My conviction in the fact that opting for Humanities in the 11th standard would be the best bet for me stemmed from my growing interest in History as a subject which led me to the wondrous ambition of becoming an archaeologist. While that career ambition can at best be classified as a passing phase, a secondary and perhaps more compelling reason for my desire to opt for Humanities came from my utter hatred for the remaining two alternatives.
Even so, the vagaries of peer pressure made me continually question my plan since most of my friends were preparing to hop onto the engineering bandwagon while others had their minds set on commerce. Yet, I failed to cultivate an interest in those mainstream subjects which meant that I had finally made up my mind. My decision however was a source of anxiety for my well-wishers whose advice, albeit ill-timed, was in good conscience for they viewed the stream as being devoid of lucrative career opportunities. Further, Humanities or rather ‘Arts’ as they would refer to it, wasn’t deemed fit for the male child who was expected to peddle with Math and Science while not straying off the path of the Indian middle class’ good old mantra to success – Pehle B.Tech fir MBA. Considering that my sister had enrolled herself in a medical college and my decision to opt for Humanities made it seem like I had stepped into the shoes of the girl child while my sister assumed a more significant and ‘masculine’ role.
Family gatherings acquired a tone of familial interventions which soon entered the virtual space with the family WhatsApp group acquiring a somber tone for my future was at stake. Everyone seemed to be in consonance with the idea that I needed some course correction for my decision was ‘rebellious’ if not outright impractical. Everyone, with the surprising exception of my parents who, while not enthusiastic about my decision, were also not dismissive of its validity and were willing to allow me to go along with my gut. From then on, I was driven which meant that the failures, though few and far between were enough to make me implode with self-doubt. While I seldom failed to make it past the entrance exam, I was often bumped for the student next in line since my extra-curricular wasn’t ‘glowing’ enough. Nevertheless, the search achieved fruition and I made it to a good school. Perhaps, the stars had finally aligned after a brief but taxing period.
Thenceforth, I’d often contemplate the motivation behind that decision. A eureka moment was in the offing for I realized that more than paying heed to the romanticized notion of being rebellious and holding my own in the face of disapproval, it was the fear of being unhappy for the next 2 years, the fear of feeling doomed while trying to grapple with numbers, equations and isotopes and what not!
While it was incredibly easy for me to be swayed by the voices in my head, it was the fear that steered me clear of committing that potent blunder. It’s the same fear which today, has afforded me the luxury of reveling in that ostensibly ‘rebellious’ decision while being unabashedly smug about the best decision I could have ever made for myself!