An Average Indian’s Life Cycle:
1. Be born.
2. Go to school.
3. Preferably, stand first in class.
4. Go to a good college.
5. Become a doctor/engineer/lawyer/scientist/IT professional/MBA (or anything else that you’ve convinced your parents will fetch you a decent salary after graduation).
6. Get a good job.
7. GET MARRIED.
8. HAVE KIDS.
9. Spend the rest of your life repeating the above cycle, except now you play your Parents.
Hmmm. Sound familiar?
Have you turned 23-24 and experienced the on-slaught of the parental persistence to get hitched? I think we all have. Some of us are luckier than others, and they back off once they realize we have a different vision/dream for our near future. But the ones who give in, well they get sucked into the above mentioned life cycle, and then their life focus pretty much shifts to in-laws, babies, diapers, nappy rashes, and basically just living for others, not for themselves. (Is there something wrong with wanting to live for yourself? But hey, that’s another discussion for another day).
And this thought of mine was only reconfirmed when I happened to read this article that someone shared on Facebook last week.
So here’s my follow up thought – just think about this for a second.
WHAT IF we changed Steps 7, 8 and 9 above to say maybe the following:
7. Save up enough for your world travels.
8. Travel the world for a year or more.
9. Write a book about it.
10. Then travel the world talking about your book.
11. Become a life coach.
12. Write another book.
OR OR OR OR maybe this:
7. Work on a business idea you have.
8. Save up enough/take a loan and start your own business.
9. Expand in 3 years.
10. Sell and re-invest.
11. Take a break coz you’ve earned it and travel the world.
12. Start a new business with a brand new idea you had during your travels.
… I could go on!
But do you see my point?
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS MY FRIEND.
But this is while we’re looking at a microscopic level and analyzing ONE LIFE.
What if we zoomed out for a bit and looked at an ENTIRE NATION?
What if ALL OF INDIA, and all the Indians in every part of the world…. had the freedom to pick steps 7, 8, 9, 10, 11… of their own free will? Guided by their own personal passions, personal drives, and their own personal dreams for their life.
I see countries where this happens.. and I see economic growth. I see a rise in entrepreneurship. I see a rise in personal independence. A high sense of personal freedom. I see nations that grow rapidly because an entire population contributes in their own personal, individual ways to the growth.
And trust me when I say this – they’re not necessarily better prepared for the real world than us Indians. I’ve seen and experienced this first-hand. Our education system beats most education systems around the world hands down. So that by the time we’ve graduated from high school, we know a lot more than an average kid say from the US. It’s true.
Sadly, we lose the lead.
But just imagine… such well prepared, thinking, educated, intelligent 21 year olds.. free to think about what they want to invent, create, build, work on for the rest of their life… in my mind, I see a country that could race way ahead of a Germany, Japan or USA.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to diss our “traditions” or our “culture”, or even remotely interested in judging people who actually choose to have the kind of life mentioned in the first list above. There are people who actually WANT that out of life. And there are people who have to want that because it would mean giving happiness to a lot of people who are important to them.
But it’s the MINDSET that I want to question.
What if we weren’t programmed to think that marriage/having babies was the be-all end-all of our adult lives?
What if we had the freedom to think about writing the pages of our lives’ books with the words that WE chose?
What if a regular dinner table conversation in an Indian home didn’t have questions like: “so when do you plan to settle down?” / “when do you want to meet that boy/girl your auntie mentioned last week” / “now that you’re married, when are you giving us a grandchild” / “bhatia aunty’s daughter is married and just had a baby, what are you doing with your life?” thrown at the kids by the elders, but INSTEAD had conversations that started with: “Are you happy?” / “Are you feeling passionate about your job?” / “What goal do you have that you want to achieve in the next 5 years?” / “Is your life fulfilling you currently or are you looking for something to change, if yes, what?”
What if we knew that the happiness of our loved ones only depended on us following our dreams and passions, and in us living a life that fulfilled us on every level of our being?
And yes, this fulfillment could come from marrying the person of our dreams and building our lives, homes and families with them, or it could be fulfillment that comes from becoming the CEO’s of the companies we work for, or it could come from turning into the lead singer of a struggling band.
Whatever it is – I just prefer to advocate free will. And open dialogue.
I don’t know… call me a new-age thinker or a challenger of the traditions.. but there’s just something awesome about freedom.
Until next time – keep Being Awesome.