Right from a young age, we start dreaming of being someone important when we grow up. Someone who makes a difference. Someone who makes their parents proud.
It is not something that we ourselves come up with. It is the expectations of our parents that stir us in that direction. It is our relatives who keep asking us what we want to be when we grow up and our teacher’s vision and guidance that makes us believe that being someone important is very much possible.
There’s one thing that we all know about Indian parents, they all want their child to be — a doctor, an engineer or a scientist. In this vast world of opportunities, we end up limiting ourselves to these few options just to please them.
No, this is not a story about how I ended up in the wrong profession or how my parents screwed up my life.
This is about how someone else’s ideology can change your perception.
The 10th-grade exam in India is the first step to building your career. Scoring good may seem to be your only option if you want to be a part of the so-called high-end professionals.
I did pretty well in my academics. I was focused, driven and to manage my studies, I joined an extra class. Revision of topics, tests, repeat tests, mock tests, personal guidance, Q&As, quarterly teachers-parents’ meetings, you name it and they provided it.
My parent’s idealogy are polar opposites. While my father is very goal-oriented and my mother is pretty laid back. My father would be an active member to discuss my future goals and aspirations whereas my mother would leave it to me to decide.
My father had big dreams for me and my mother wanted me to have a peaceful life. Maybe that’s why I was more inclined to discuss my curriculum with my dad rather than my mom. Anyway, I knew she would be the least bit interested in any of my future plans.
Whenever I had a parent-teachers meet, I would request my dad to be there. Speaking to him, my teachers would know that I am motivated at home. And at the time, I thought it is one way to impress my teacher.
Before my finals, the professor from my extra class decided to have a discussion with all the parents to ensure the pressure of the exam is not weighing on his students. As always, I approached my dad but he was too busy to be at the meet. Kicking and screaming didn’t help as my dad was quite sure that he, in no way, could attend it. So, I had no other choice but to request my mom. She was happy to accompany me to the meet (It’s not like she had any other choice 😉).
The meeting was going well, I had been scoring good in the mock tests but I made a few silly mistakes that were being pointed out. All went well until my professor asked my mother what she wished I would pursue after my board exams. The normal answer would be — Science, Commerce or Arts. But my mother decides to choose something different. She said, “She will be what God decided for her and I will be happy with it. All I hope she would be is a ‘Good’ Person”.
When all the parents believe that their children were capable of being a doctor, engineer, teacher… My mother goes with this response?
I was devastated and angry. Clearly, my mother did not believe I was capable of being good at anything important. She had no dreams and aspirations for me. No expectations at all. I was filled with rage.
This horror didn’t just stop there. My professor went on – “So you don’t have any expectations for her future?”. To which she replied, “I do and that is what I told you. Being a good person goes with any stream she picks.”
My professor looked at the report card which he had in his hand and gave it to me. I could see the disappointment on his face. He did not look straight at me but wished me all the best for my future. And we were finally done with the meeting.
I wasn’t going to take it. I didn’t speak to her the whole way back home. The moment we stepped in the house, I told her I am never taking her to any of my parents-teachers meetings ever again. She did not say a word. We never spoke about it after that.
Fast forward a few years, I now hold a degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering and did exactly what my father always hoped for me.
So, is he proud?
Here’s the funny thing. I never worked a day in my life as an engineer. I worked as a sales manager, business development manager, market strategist, digital marketing manager and as a content writer but never as an engineer. I don’t think this is what my father had in his mind. But I loved every step of my career as it taught me many things. It broadened my horizons and opened many opportunities for me.
But now when I think about what my mother said, I believe she wasn’t very wrong in saying what she did. She knew all along that we all end up where we want to be or as she said, where God decides we should be. It is not in our hands.
Hopes and dreams tend to change. People move on all the time.
Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.— Thomas Hardy
This is all we can hope for in the end, right? That we are remembered for the good we have done not by many but just a few. That we make a positive impact in someone’s life.
Could there be a prouder moment than someone we don’t know, comes up to us and tells us, “They are good. You have raised them well.”
We have no control over our future but what we do have control over are our thoughts and our actions. The values we take along with us. The decisions we make and how we act upon them. The importance of a person does not depend on how popular they are or which position they hold.
Doing tasks that are not included in your KPI, sharing your food with someone who didn’t get lunch, passing on a smile to someone in an elevator or a simple ‘Good Morning’ reserves its own importance. You know if you have made an impact in the life of the people around you when do not turn up to work one day and try to reach out to you to know if everything is well.
This is how it starts. From being good to your family to neighbours or colleagues to locality or organization and eventually, to the people you don’t even know.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.— Vincent Van Gogh
Today, all I want to say is that I am not the engineer my father wanted me to be but I still try every day to be the ‘Good’ person my mother always hoped I would be.
I hope that someday my mother knows that her beliefs had a major impact in my life and will always do.
Originally Published at Bulletproof Investors