It’s YOU WHO decides – An Open letter from Aditya, Old Cottonian, batch of 2016:
In 2016, fresh off completing my ICSE Class 10 board exams, I, in all my naivety, confided in my father about my interest in biology and my dream of becoming a doctor. While I wasn’t always the brightest student, through hard work and countless hours of dedication, I managed to excel academically. The Class 10 board exams marked my first personal victory, and shortly after, my father returned from work and gathered my mother and me for a conversation.
During that discussion, my father shared his belief that if I had the slightest chance of getting into a medical college, I would need to forgo two years of regular schooling and enroll in something called “coaching.” Both my mother and I nodded in agreement, unaware of the significant impact this decision would have on my life. Within a couple of months, I found myself heading to a coaching institute in Kota.
Kota was an entirely different experience altogether, with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it exposed me to new opportunities for growth, but on the other, it contributed to my struggle with depression and other mental health issues. My time there was bittersweet. Although I didn’t secure admission to a medical college, the exposure I gained helped shape me as an individual. However, it also brought along an overwhelming amount of sadness and challenges.
Even after taking a drop and giving it another shot, I couldn’t clear the medical entrance examination because it simply wasn’t the right path for me. It was disheartening to face failure once again, but instead of giving up, I made a courageous decision. I chose to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in microbiology, aligning my studies with my genuine interests.
Now, looking back, I am grateful for that decision because it led me to where I am today. I have recently received acceptance from the University of Melbourne for their Master of Biotechnology program, and I couldn’t be more content. This opportunity to further my education in a field that truly resonates with me brings a sense of fulfillment and excitement for the future.
In India, the pressure on parents to see their children become doctors, engineers, or pursue prestigious careers like IAS, IPS, or CA is still prevalent. It’s not their fault, per se, but it is crucial for them to realize that limiting children’s options to these fields can lead to self-doubt and dissatisfaction. The success rate in medical entrance exams is only 6.5%, meaning that out of every 200 individuals, only 13 are successful. So, what about the remaining 187 students? Are they not bright enough? Are they considered failures? Should they drop a year and try again? The answer is no. They are bright, they are not failures, and they don’t necessarily need to take a year off just to “work” their way up from a lower rank to a higher one. They might simply be in the wrong place.
This situation reminds me of a quote: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” At the age of 15, you are still discovering your purpose in life, unsure of which profession might be the right fit. Deciding on a career path solely based on what you like at that moment is flawed in so many ways. Give yourself time; most people don’t figure it all out until they are 24 or 25. Some may even take until the age of 34. Life is a journey, not a race. Take your time, let things unfold gradually. Don’t succumb to the pressures of the rat race; it’s toxic. Instead, venture down the less trodden path, and you’ll never find yourself feeling trapped.
If I could turn back time, I would not have skipped regular schooling just to focus on clearing an exam. I wouldn’t have subjected myself to immense stress and anxiety at such a tender age. Instead, I would have allowed myself to grow at my own pace and prepare for the world when I became an adult.
Remember, life is a delicate balance of self-discovery and growth. Embrace the journey, explore different possibilities, and allow yourself the freedom to evolve.
Disclaimer: The contents of this text are based solely on personal experience and opinions. They do not reflect a general tone or represent the views of any specific individual or organization. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. The intention is not to defame or discredit any particular organization or institution. Every individual’s experiences may vary, and it is essential to conduct thorough research and seek appropriate guidance before making any personal decisions.