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The world population is about 7.4 billion. There are close to a 200 countries. The number of distinct professions in the world, while I don’t quite know how many exactly, has to be in the thousands. Yet, any of us can live in no more than 1 country at any given time and perhaps, don’t get to live in more than a handful during the course of our lifetime. The number of people we actually encounter in our lives and have any form of sustained relationship with (in any and all capacities) has to be in the 1000s, if that. A lot of this is mere speculation and while I wouldn’t be surprised if I am completely off with the numbers, they certainly hold true for me. That I can say with a good degree of certainty.

Other than all the reading and watching and hearing we do, in terms of actual interaction with real people we know, we might mostly be limited to a ridiculously small percentage of the world population. And that I think is all that matters to a large majority of us unless, of course, you are one of the relatively few popular & known & accomplished figures out there. I am not one and I don’t know of anyone who is such so, like it or not, my experience and therefore, my thoughts are purely limited in that sense.

A lot us are competitive but not all of us are, certainly not to the same degree. While it is true that a number of our traits are innate and a number of them are shaped by the environment we are subject to both in the impressionable early years and slowly, but surely, over the rest of our lives, I want to believe that we still have control over our thoughts and can choose to really be who we want to be. It is undeniable that most of us aren’t born with a silver spoon and hence, we have to work towards a lot of what we want to achieve a bit more than a few other lucky ones but our destiny has to be within our control.

I have one child, a teenager who would soon be in college. While I am still in the pursuit of my own dreams, I can see that my dreams get tweaked a bit periodically (not to mention more frequently now) to make room for what I think can help him achieve his dreams as he starts to have the first of them (the more important ones beyond those along the lines of “I want to own a Bugatti”!).

The only piece of advice I see myself giving my son repeatedly is that he should do his very best at all times and put his best foot forward but, more importantly, try to always do what he thoroughly enjoys doing and be respectful of others in the process.

While I have no complaints and am immensely grateful to the Almighty for giving me all that He has, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t wish I had done things a little differently over the years. Hindsight is surely 20/20. However, none of that is going to stop me from sticking to my goals and dreams, regardless of how long they actually take to come to but I feel it is my duty to do all I can do to help my offspring get the head start. Now, here is the most important part and what urged me to write this post today. I want to try and help him get the head start without most, even if not ALL, the related pressures associated with something like this. That’s where it tends to get tricky, unsurprisingly.

I grew up in a competitive environment, relatively speaking, but wasn’t one to succumb to the pressures, not most of the time at least. I did what I could and what I was able to. I did what I felt like doing amidst the rules and requirements established by society that most of us are unable to escape. I certainly didn’t let other people’s opinions of me come in the way of doing what I wanted to do and more importantly, come in the way of not doing what I didn’t quite want to do in the first place. This resulted in some decent grades and perhaps more, not so good ones! It resulted in some jobs and not others. It resulted in some contracts and not others. But, overall, it resulted in me being happy despite the grades I missed & the contracts I didn’t quite get. That’s because I tell myself that I at least did what I really wanted to do at the time of the doing.

Of course, we all run into people with differing mindsets all the time. To each their own. I just hope and pray that my son can continue to live life in his own terms (as he now does) and not have to succumb to societal pressures at any point in life. What people think of what we do is entirely their problem, not ours. I have always believed that competing with one’s own self is a whole lot more important than competing with someone else. Agreed, when you apply for employment or for any such thing, you are evaluated against the rest of the applicants but if the sole purpose of life becomes competition, I am not sure it’s even healthy. And even if it is, I certainly doubt if it makes one happy.

I think there has to be a good balance between what you have to do and what you want to do. This balance needs to be maintained at all times in one’s life and cannot be deferred to a future point of time. I was told a number of these things (paraphrased, of course) as I grew up:

  • When in 10th grade – “Just work hard this year and that will ensure you get into a good group or school next year and you are all set”.
  • When in 11th and 12th grade – “Just work hard these 2 years and that will ensure you get into a good college”.
  • When a freshman in college – “Just work hard this year and that will ensure you get a dual degree of your choice”.
  • When in the next few years in college – “Just work hard these few years and that will ensure you get a good job once you graduate”.
  • When in the last year in college – “Just work hard this semester and that will ensure you get into a good college in the US of A”.
  • When in the US of A – “Just work hard for the next couple of years and that will ensure you find a good company to work for”.

And so the list goes on and on. While my point is obviously not that it isn’t good to work hard at any and all points of time in life (that’s a no brainer), all that I am trying to say is that happiness cannot be deferred. There are things you would really feel like you want to do at different stages in life and you have to try your very best to do them at that time. If you are one of those people for who what I am stating is rather obvious and are already living life that way, I am absolutely happy for you (and perhaps a tad jealous too!). If you aren’t one of those, give it another thought to see if what I mention makes any sense.

Don’t wait for life to happen. Make it happen. I have to admit I am absolutely hypocritical when I say this as I still haven’t made that call but my hope is that by reiterating this and putting it in words, it would make it a bit easier for me to take my own advice. That would make me selfish, I accept. So, at the end of another long post, it looks like I’ve published myself as being both hypocritical and selfish. Good job, Krish 😉

— krish @ http://www.snowpal.software

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