Come March and I bet my parents’ blood pressures hike up drastically. It’s exam time and though children are supposed to be the ones facing the question papers, the parents are on a special marathon as well. They wake up with the child; they sit with them as they read; the house is ten decibels quieter as everyone seems to be speaking in hushed whispers and in short, it is as if someone has just died in the house! Indeed, someone has…
Think about the child for once. Do the parents have this much knowledge of what the child is going through? Waking up for late nights is no big deal, but do the parents carry that heavy burden of expectations that the child carries? Do they know that this load is slowly killing their children?
I think the biggest problem of our times is the tremendous amount of competition around. No doubt, competition pushes everyone to give their best, but in the same breath, there is no real learning because everyone is too busy, with their gazes focused on the finish line. Everyone wants to be a winner! And our universe, unfortunately, has a rule book that states that only one person can be the winner. But does that mean the person who comes last, is worthless? Does that mean the person who came second is not as good as the first? Does that mean the person with a broken leg never deserved to come first?
In the race to perfection, lies the problem.
I happened to read this in a very beautiful book : Each one of us, is born perfect.
And I agree with it. When children are born, there is absolutely no comparison. We don’t measure how loudly they cry or how many times they sneeze. We are plain happy. Period. And that implies, we all had once been, perfect!
It is when we start growing up, that comparisons begin. Suddenly it’s about how fast a child can grasp the alphabets and the other can’t! It’s about how quick one kid grows, but the other doesn’t! Comparison kills the perfection we had grown up with. And most of the parents, just wouldn’t accept that. If you are short, they’d ask you to play basketball! If you are dull in studies, they’d hire a hundred tutors! If you can’t draw, they’d send you to a class! In short, they can’t just accept the fact that each child has certain limits.
Just like everyone can’t dance or sing or paint, everyone can’t have perfect grades or a perfect personality or a perfect physique!
Why do we chase perfection? We are like this, and this is perfect! And why wouldn’t anyone understand that?
It gets particularly serious when a person reaches teenage. He/she is constantly compared and asked to become like someone else. My parents want me to become the best doctor. My neighbours want their son to become the best teacher. Why does everyone want the best? Why can’t average be just as good?
I happen to have arguments with my mum constantly, whenever she tells me to study else I can’t get anywhere in life. I ask her, why? Why do I need to get somewhere in life? Is it the sole purpose of life to get a fine job and have a fine house? Is it the sole motive and agenda of life?
She tells me that people have too many expectations from me. And the very realization, kills me from inside, just like it kills several other people in my place. It is scary. There’s always a nagging fear that if I don’t live up to their expectations, where will I be? Will people still like me?
What scares me even more is the fact that I’ve never let anyone down and it is only natural that people believe that I’ll shine again. But what if, what if I don’t? Don’t I stand a chance in the world? Will it be the end of the world?
Each night, I sit thinking of what might happen if I fail – fail to reach that mark they have set for me? I see nothing but frightening darkness. And the chill haunts me. It makes me want to breakdown and cry my heart out. Because that load of expectations is overwhelming. Each random person who I meet and who tells me, “You are a great student. You’ll do just fine!”, contributes to that load. If only they had known that I was nothing but an average student!
As I sit at my desk, writing down these random musings, I wonder of the many students who go through these depressing periods. Hope seems scarce. And in a moment of utter frenzy, it feels like everything is lost.
I tell my mum to worry less and to expect lesser. Instead, I tell her to hope. I ask her to hope that I do good, and not expect I reach perfection. To be honest, I don’t even know what is perfect perfect!
And I lean back on my chair and tell myself that even if I fail, it won’t be the end of the world. It won’t be.