Brains and Brilliance – Growing up in conservative Madras of the 80’s and going through the process of a formal education at that time, the only thing that mattered was grades and ranks, in that order! You were either brilliant or a dud! There was no middle path. If you got ranked first in class you were brainy and a successful future was guaranteed. If you were ranked second or third, you were alright but anything more than that meant that the quality of your brains were corroding away faster than someone going senile and your future was going to be dominated by the big “L” word – Looser.
You could be creative , sing well, make pretty pictures, dance or even write great essays. But sadly, if you did not measure up to the ranking system, you were not fit for anything! The teachers and the parents of the other students would go to any lengths to make you feel like a dud and unfortunately that is how it was at my school.
I was never a first ranker and many times I slipped beyond 5(gasp!). The worst phase of my life was when I was in the 9th grade when my grades got so bad that I wish I could turn back time change the outcome of those terrible days! It didn’t matter that I hated mathematics, physics and chemistry! There was no way I was going to specialize in any of those subjects! But I had to study them anyway and prove a point to the world about being the brightest of stars just so that I would feel like an achiever! It didn’t matter that I was creatively inclined and good at doing loads of other things that others would never even attempt! But there I was, searching for success as per the worlds definition of “Brilliance” and “Success”. I had to become an engineer because that’s what the world accepted (but, thank God I didn’t! I would have hated myself!) I spent many precious years trying and when that went south, I tried hard becoming a software programmer (oh God! I hated that even more) and at the first opportunity to switch tracks I did ! Then, most of my adult years were spent in trying to obtain the approval of male managers and approval of society in general for not being an engineer or a programmer or a doctor or for being a girl or for being single!
It was only until later when I discovered that brains had nothing to do with brilliance or success! Not all engineers find great jobs and many successful students, from the IITs and IIMs bomb in the real world struggling to make it into the layers of the crème de la crème! Some just make terrible managers and colleagues, sparking comments like “What? He went to IIT??? What a shame!” And even the so called brilliant students of my batch probably don’t lead the most exciting lives!
It has taken me more than two decades to realize this truth! I do wish I did something I loved for a living, because that way my brains, brilliance, success and contribution to life would have been in order. I am envious of those that do what they love and pursue it with all the passion they can possibly muster…
On those lines, note to the little one: Don’t worry too much if you are not good at a particular subject at school. Doing something on the lines of the subject that you enjoy is a better ingredient for a happy in life. And if I ever try to nag you about the subject you are bad at, please show me this post! I am your mom and I can still nag you about it, as it is my right to do so and this post doesn’t mean you can ignore or flunk the subjects you hate!
Note to myself: Read above! Try to practice it……You have one life. Please do what you love sooner than later. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough. And you have done great even when you never ranked first in your class ever! 🙂
Written as a part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015