I stumbled upon this speech of Steve Jobs’ Commencement address at Stanford University. As I was reading it, I was envious at first of those lucky students who had the good fortune of meeting (or at least seeing) someone like Steve Jobs in the flesh. Eventually I did get to watch the same speech (courtesy: YouTube) but the actual live experience is always humbling and overwhelming.
Do what you love, he says.
And that had been my plan up until 10th standard. I had it all figured out. I love reading, writing, and I am good at languages.
I had decided to become an author. And although no specific education is required for that, I had decided to take Arts- so as to soak in the culture- and study English Literature perhaps, or Journalism or do a B.A. and then an M.A in the French language: my second-most favourite language (the first being English of course).
I studied well in my 10th standard and scored a respectable 93%. Wow! I could do virtually anything I wanted to and get admission in some of the best colleges in the city. My dream was about to come true!
But (sadly there is a ‘but’) somehow things just don’t work out the way you want them to. My mom refused to let me take Arts and pursue any of the above streams. It was for my own good, she said.
I didn’t go down without a fight though; I tried everything- explaining, shouting, crying, blackmailing, convincing via others- but it just didn’t work out and in the end, she won. So I struck off Arts from the list.
Science was rejected immediately since those Physics equations and Chemistry formulae were just beyond me. Nor could I see myself dissecting cockroaches, frogs or other such vile creatures.
That left me with Commerce (about which I was clueless back then- I didn’t even know all the subjects- such was my focus on pursuing Arts). Even then I was really hoping for a miracle or a change of heart in my mom-not this actually since there were more chances of the former happening. But all the people I talked to about it, either because they didn’t want to make me rebel against my mom or because they actually believed that, told me that I could do very well in whichever stream I chose. I was an intelligent girl and it was not about which field I could excel in but about which field I chose to excel in. After that, I kinda decided to stop all the resistance and actually give Commerce my best shot. I got admission in the best college in the city and then got caught up in Accounting and Math. If I’m gonna be totally honest here (which I am, since that is the whole point of the blog), accounts is a really interesting subject.
But even now, my favourite subjects are ‘Organization of Commerce and Management’ and ‘Economics’- the theory subjects. I score really well in them as compared to Math-of which, by the way, don’t even ask. I think its about how you can take a girl out of Arts but not the Arts out of a girl, or something like that.
Now I’m at peace with myself about my career choice. My mom made the choice for me, but now it’s up to me to either blame her if I fail or make sure I succeed because it’s not really all that much fun proving your mom wrong. And as J. K. Rowling said in her speech at Harvard (Another totally great and truly inspiring speech, and needless to say, these were the students I was even more envious of. No offence to Mr. Jobs, but nobody can beat JKR when it comes to me!), “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, the responsibility lies with you.”
I obviously wonder about all the ‘What-ifs’ many a times, especially when Math seems likes the most difficult thing ever- which it does very often, although I’m working on it.
I also seriously consider doing an M.A. in English Literature after getting some professional degree through Commerce, and perhaps leaving the Commerce part of me behind like a bad phase forever.
But it doesn’t work like that. I may or may not do that M.A. but I can’t unlearn all the Commerce things I have learnt now.
My biggest fear was that Commerce will change me and kill that Arts part in me- it will commercify me-as I like to say.
The Commerce terminology has already seeped into my vocabulary. ‘Journal’ has already stopped reminding me of a diary and started showing me pictures of the “original book of entries.” I have already started using the term ‘Utility’ as a regular word while expressing my material wants (this is an Economic term so I think Arts would’ve made this change too).
Although it isn’t killing the Arts part in me. In the beginning it did seem like it would, since I completely stopped reading books (not completely, actually, since that’s not really possible with me-but I read very less) and even writing stuff in my diary. I was totally depressed about it. I *had* decided to give it my best shot but it wasn’t very easy. A friend of mine, who up until then was my best friend, started telling me about all the so-called awesome things in Arts. And how her college was so much better than mine, and she had such great friends and how life was so much fun. Earlier those things used to hurt me, a lot. I used to get very very jealous of her and curse myself and my mom. But after a couple of months, I realized that she was probably just not so happy herself. Maybe that’s why she kept telling me all that, to convince herself that it was all good. She probably herself was hurting over the fact that she couldn’t get admission in the best college of Arts because of a lack of less than 1% (which, by the way, I would’ve gotten had I chosen to take Arts, but I try not to think about it, there are some things that I just can’t get over- that college, for example). I also realized that I was being stupid. Commerce will kill Arts in me only if I let it. And then I started being my artsy self again.
Now I just hope that things work out well. That I don’t have to blame anyone, least of all my mom who I know had and always will have my best interest at heart, and not regret anything in life.
Like, Steve Jobs said, “You have to trust that somehow the dots will connect in your future.”