(A letter to the bright Indian student)
You are probably one of the toppers of your class. The teacher loves you and is super nice to you right? And your classmates are envious of you? You parents are proud of you. Your family taunts all the younger, under performing sibling by pointing at you. “Be like him/her” they say. You are the perfect Sharmaji ki beta. You are treated at the epitome of perfection. And You maybe a little proud of it. And that’s alright, after all you didn’t get that 99 percentile unjust lying around.
So while other students had anxiety during boards, this was your time to shine. While others were angry with their parents for confiscating their phones, your parents chilled and didn’t even worry about your performances in the pre finals. You were probably the “luckiest” Indian student on boards results day. Oh but Hun, there is so much you do not know. So many issues in the way you’ve been. Turns out many Sharmaji ki betis and betas suffer serious anxiety when they face real life.
I’m not here to tell the Indian student their ways are wrong. Seeing the results, your ways are the best out there. I’m not telling you that you need to do things differently. But I’m telling you to be super cautious to avoid these moments that may befall you if you were the padaku perfectionist.
Choice of Career.
Tina chose architecture because she was good at it. Rahul chose computer science because he was a hacking pro. Brinda chose management studies because she loved being the perfect in school. But you, the bright Indian student were good at everything. You loved studying and acing all tests. What did you like more? What would be your career path? But before you can think about it, you’ve chosen science and working super hard to ace the NEET and JEE entrance tests because those are catered for brilliant minds. But did you really want to be a doctor? Or did your grades do the choosing for you?
“Tell us about yourself”
You’re eighteen and in the premiere institution of your choice. There are some cool people around you and they ask you ‘Tell us about who you are. Leave your education at the doorstep. Define yourself beyond your markscard.’ You’ve spent so much time on your grades, there was hardly any more time for you to round yourself to perfection. You probably pulled out of music class and basketball class for a year to prepare for boards. So who are you without your grades? Do people know you for anything beyond your CGPA? As an adult, you can’t parade your 10th markscard like an ID card. Chances that your Co worker at your medical job is impressed that you got 100 in a difficult geography test when you both are 45? Very less.
Time’s running quick. While you were cooped up in the room redoing to perfection all your drawings, people were out and about: living lives, discovering themselves and falling in love with themselves and discovering what their goals are. And at one point, that becomes the most supreme thing out of them all.
Skipped a beat
For many Indian A students, they probably got to the top by serious and intense hard work. Personally, I feel like that’s a false metric to scale by because it doesn’t really indicate one’s inclination or potential towards the given subject they are acing intensely. So if they were to have a down phase (which is only human) or if they took a while off education, they might be lost for a long time as they were unable to figure out the intricacies and mechanism without an uprooted understanding of the subject.
There comes a phase when teens and 20 some things try to appear effortlessly perfect. It’s a nice thing to be known for. Calling out those who put in visible effort as nerds and not accounting their accomplishments to any intelligence I stead to plain and boring effort. As a person who spends four hours a day studying the entire book thoroughly, you might be at a huge disadvantage. Dear bright Indian student, you don’t know the art of balancing the act of an active social life and a perfect A to perfection. This may lead to a drop in performances or an imperfect balancing act. But above all loads of anxiety.