I hail from a small town in Punjab. There’s a very limited scope of life there. People study and pursue the same decades-old careers. I too, followed a path set by my parents. Took up non-medical and enrolled in a B.Sc. degree away from home. However, I knew this wasn’t the right choice for me. I had always been a creative child: drawing, dancing, and literature; these were the things that brought me alive. I even suggested pursuing architecture, but my opinion was given no importance.
Having no interest in the degree and being away in a strange, grim environment, studying seemed even more impossible. My academic performance went downhill, and I was constantly pestered by my professors. There was immense pressure from my parents; they couldn’t accept my poor academic performance. I eventually failed my exams, and although my parents didn’t say anything, I could sense how disappointed they were in me. Even as I protested, I was again enrolled in the same degree at a nearby college.
There began the most difficult 3 years of my life. I had nothing to look forward to anymore. The creative person in me had died, I stopped engaging in any of my hobbies. Each day, I went to college, came back, and shut myself in my room. I talked to no one; it felt as if I was alone, even while being in a crowd. Just existing daily was suffocating for me, and I cried each and every day. I had forgotten what it was like to sleep well, I could only get 1-2 hours of sleep at max. My eating habits were also getting worse and I lost a tremendous amount of weight. That was also the time I started getting migraines that I still struggle with to this day.
At such a time, when I needed the support of my parents the most, all I got was constant nagging and comparison with others. I was constantly being compared to others my age, how the neighbor’s kid was doing so good at studies, how a cousin had gotten a well-paid job, and how I was still a good-for-nothing problematic child. At this point, I realized that no one was going to come to save me, and it was I who had to help myself. There’s an excerpt from the Shiv Chalisa that helped me get things into perspective:
मात-पिता भ्राता सब होई ।
संकट में पूछत नहिं कोई ॥
So, I decided to be my own savior. As soon as I completed my B.Sc. degree, I decided that I needed to get out of that environment. I fought with my family and got enrolled in an animation course in Delhi. And there began the most transformative period of my life.
Delhi opened up a new world for me. The people here didn’t know me, my past, and what I had endured. I felt I could leave every negative experience behind and create a new life for myself here. Nobody was here to judge me, I could do things the way I wanted to. It wasn’t so easy getting accustomed to a new city. I noticed that people here were far more competent than me, as they had access to a lot more resources which I never had. However, I took that as a challenge and determined to change myself for the better. Being away from the constant family pressure, there was a reduction in my stress levels and I started to eat better and gain weight. I also worked hard at learning my course; it was a lot of fun finally doing what I wanted to do.
This wasn’t the end though, as my family didn’t understand what I was studying. For them, it was a waste of money and time. I was also under pressure to start providing financially. At last, I couldn’t complete my whole course and had to go for a job. But I didn’t let that be the end of my dreams. I learned everything practically on the job, and perfected my skills. And although the job lessened the financial pressure on me, my parents still didn’t agree with my life choices. For them, the only thing that could make them proud was a traditional, settled career.
But I have learned to be content with my own choices. I’m still very grateful for the decision to shift to Delhi. At last I would just like to say that parents should understand that their children are not a commodity, or a means to fulfill their dreams. They are their own person, with dreams, wishes, thoughts, and choices of their own. We are always taught that parents think the best for their children, and although it could be true, they’re not always right. Similarly, children might be less experienced, but they’re not always wrong.
So, for anyone who might be going through a similar experience, I’d like to tell you that superheroes don’t exist in reality; there’s no one who will come save you. So become your own superhero, your own shield, and live your life on your own terms. There’s no one in this world who knows you better than yourself, so listen to your inner voice, and help your own self.
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