“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein
What do you want to be when you grow up? This is one of the most important questions of your lives. And when do people ask you that? When you are very young, and many of you would have answered; Collector, Astronaut, Scientist, Doctor, Engineer, Businessmen, Police Officer, Pilot, etc. In fact everything seemed possible then. But as you grow into your teenage and adolescent years, everything changes. The same question boomerangs, again from our parents, relatives and neighbours when we are in high school. Parents want an answer because to them you seem a bit lost, directionless! You might have heard them often say, “Oh, my child doesn’t know what he wants to do after tenth. He has no sense of direction.”
Moreover, they have heard from their friends and colleagues that their children are going for medical and engineering courses. Upon hearing that, their heart beat goes up further and they want to know what you want to do. There’s a lot of pressure being put on the tenth grader who is trying to cope with the challenges of teenage and find his identity and place in the society. There seems to be a mismatch between the desires of the parent and you. There will be long lectures from the father in the evenings and you often hear your mother talking over the phone to her friends and relatives about you. They begin to worry about you too much!
During this time the friendly atmosphere at home becomes hostile and the parents often feel that they don’t understand these youngsters today. They have no dreams, no purpose and no direction. “During our time it wasn’t like this! I am worried where my child will end up!”
And if you share some of your aspirations with them, they would say, “It’s good to be a singer, dancer, artist, but you need to find a career. You better study well and find a job. Your interest cannot make you a living.” This is where the problem begins.
Perhaps most of you teenagers who are reading this will agree with me that your dreams have changed many times and still keep changing. Being a trainer and career counsellor, I interact with thousands of students and I feel that it’s not the lack of opportunities, it’s the lack of direction which needs to be addressed. Opportunities are in abundance for students from all streams. No career is bad if you like it. But most students have no idea about various study or careers options available to them today.
They follow the decision of their parents who are not career experts. They do it out of fear and concern for the future of their child. They want their children to get a job, if possible a government job, and settle down. They don’t care about the child’s aspirations and dreams. Most parents and teachers guide children based on the little knowledge that they have about various options available for their children. Many youngsters end up in careers they dislike and drag themselves to work cursing their parents for their miserable life.
When it comes to making a decision on higher education or career most students…
- Accept choices made by their parents who may have limited knowledge about it.
- Are influenced by the media, which is biased and gives very high importance to certain courses and careers.