“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.”Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
A famous baseball player once remarked, “I never in my wildest thoughts, dreamed when I was a child, that people would pay me to play baseball”. The implication here is that he turned his childhood hobby and passion into a profession and then never had to ‘work’ a single day his entire life. His passion became his work. And this need not be for just famous sports personalities, it could be the case for you too. Not everyone might succeed in sports or other performance arts (not discouraging anyone: if you have that passion, go for it by all means). The competition there is fierce. But even for less spectacular careers, you can transform your passion and strength into a dream career and then enjoy what you do for the rest of your life.
How do you choose a profession that would give you the luxury of not having to ‘work’ your entire life? If you like what you do, then it would not seem like hard ‘work’ anymore. It’s as simple as that. The key lies in knowing early what your passions are, what your inherent strengths are and then sticking to that path with conviction and courage. Society and peer pressure would want to drag you into certain directions. Those of us who have gone through that process would quite well know the pitfalls of following what others want you to achieve as opposed to what it is that you want to do with your life.
So how do we reach there? When do we make the first move? What tools do we have to assess what would suit us most? Here are some pointers towards reaching that goal:
1. Every profession (within the confines of legality and decency) has inherent dignity and the ability to grant you a good life and income
Most of us have grown up in a society/school/home where you were given the impression that if you lose out on a few areas of your curriculum (Reading, Math and sciences), your life lay in ruins. In my young days, the huge social/peer pressure was to get into a Medical field or an Engineering field. Anything other than that was considered for those who have been ‘left behind’. Scores of people ruined their lives trying to get into it, only to realize later that they lack a certain aptitude in it.
It is like the proverbial story of the crow, the peacock and the magpie who attended the same school. The peacock had a talent for dance, the magpie had a beautiful singing voice. The crow too had some inherent strengths, in that it was a very clever and resourceful creature. But it was obsessed with what the peacock and the magpie were doing, hence decided to try both dancing and singing. In the end, it became a mediocre dancer, a terrible singer and forgot to apply its own strengths in a meaningful way, and ended up as a scavenger of leftovers.
Do not become like that proverbial crow. Instead, be true to yourself, be honest when you evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses, do not let others tell you what you are good at or not. These friends, relatives, random busybody on the road, teachers etc do not decide your destiny. Of course, healthy feedback from well-wishers and mentors is always handy. But the only person capable of making a career decision, in conjunction with your faith in God, is you yourself. Always remember the almighty has conferred on you a unique set of talents and skills and think of it as a sort of treasure hunt within yourself to discover these treasures.
2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Might sound like a complete cliché (especially for Gen Z cynics), but this is a very tricky part of the whole process. In our tender teenage years we may be blindly optimistic, idealistic and foolhardy and at the same time prone to be sad, discouraged and disillusioned pretty quickly. We are all prone to live in self-denial. It is always advisable to take the help of a career counsellor in identifying the areas of your strengths. At the end of this series, I will be giving you some resources towards the same.
Some of you might think “Well, I do not have any real strengths”. That can simply not be objectively true. If you are alive today and you have survived 10 or 12 years of schooling, you are certainly a capable, resourceful and intelligent person. It’s just that you need the objective and rational tools to direct your creative energies towards one goal and that is to get into a profession that you will find JOY in doing.
Let me take mathematics as an example: Some of you might be naturally good at it. Some might be mediocre. Others might need a lot of work in that area. What you need to take into account is math is not some kind of monolith. It is a very vast and highly staggered discipline. Just because you were not good at one kind of math does not mean you are not brilliant at another kind. Hence, if you got bad grades in math in class 10 or 12, do not rule it out of your life. Expose yourself to other branches of math, explore more branches online, practice a lot more.
There are others who lack mathematical abilities. It is NOT the end of the world. The world is filled with extremely successful people who were terrible at math. Trust me, this is not some hyperbole. But the key is to be TRUTHFUL to yourself. It is not going to be easy. There may be parents breathing down your neck, teachers giving you nightmares, and your friends who can do binomial multiplication while playing cricket. DO NOT be intimidated. The only person that matters on God’s good earth in this regard is YOU: how truthful you are to yourself. Trust me, that is all that counts at the end of the day.
------To be Continued------------