You always have an option, you just don’t know it yet.

This one is for all those people who are trying to figure out what they should do with their lives (and there is a fresh batch of these people every year) – No one tells you that you can grow up to be a famous porn star.

I see this great hullabaloo about the deadly cut-offs at the Delhi University this year. What course are you trying to get into? Commerce? Science? English? Pol Science? Why are you doing it? Because it’s the done thing to do? Because your parents think it will lead you to a secure future? Because your friends are doing it?

I bet most of you kids had some form of a career counselling in school. I had a sham version of it too when I was in the 12th. I call it sham because I remember thinking back about it recently when I discovered that there is this famous porn star – Jenna Jameson – who is apparently the Shah Rukh Khan of the porn industry. Heck she even has a wikipedia page to her name. How many of us will have the privilege of boasting about that during our lifetime eh? And I was thinking, no one ever counselled you that you could be a porn star when you grow up. Doesn’t that make you feel cheated? What else have they been hiding from you? They don’t even tell you that you can be Shah Rukh Khan. Hell they don’t even offer the encouragement that you can be absolutely brilliant at whatever you choose to do, provided you chose it and have fun doing it.

I remember this interesting anecdote from my career counselling session when one of the people in the counselling panel was rambling about the great future in one of the professions like being a doctor or an engineer (I don’t remember exactly which right now). This kid in the audience, one of us, stood up and said “Sir, you can choose to be whatever you want in life and be good at it. There are paan walas who sell a paan for rs 5 at the roadside kiosk and then there is this guy in a big shop in CP called Panchayat who manages to sell the same paan for rs 150. Both of them manage to sell paan all day long”. Now this guy understood life!

What I’m trying to tell you is that these famous and acceptable careers come and go as a fad each year. First it was law, then came this wave of everyone wanting to be a doctor, then engineering, then MBA. Actually now it’s MBA + engineering. I think the next wave may be journalism. There is enough masala to report on a daily basis. Or maybe becoming a baba and going on a fast religiously for any cause just or not will catch on as an acceptable profession too. Think about it. There’s good money in that and no one ever told you you could become one!

I was one of you too once. My parents wanted me to become a doctor. I guess my heart must not have been in it. Because now I am a person who studied Botany during graduation and through some miraculous twist of fate ended up learning how to design in an IT company. And trust me, it’s a lot more fun than Botany. At least for me. (although I have to say studying Genetics was a lot of fun too).

Over the number of years I have seen my friends take up a number of interesting professions. Someone went on to become a journalist. Someone chose to work in human resources. I know a guy who gets to play video games as a profession and he is good at it. My cousin gave up her job as a designer at a magazine to become a fashion designer. That radio jockey you love listening to every morning, guess what he chose to do with his life :-). Hey guess what JK Rowling decided to do with her life! My point is, keep your options open because there are a lot of fun things out there to do. You just have to figure out what is fun for you. The greatest learning in life will come from Experience so take in as much of it as possible. Stay away from home if possible. I never got to do that, but I have a feeling nothing teaches you better about life or gives you confidence like being responsible for yourself does. If you get through to DU, you have 3 years of college life. Bunking is a lot of fun. Do it! Cheat at least once during your exams! Trust me you will never forget for life what you cheated and it’s a great story to tell later. *Just be smart enough not to get caught*. Take part in extra-curriculars. Learn a new language! Learn how to program. Basically just soak in as much as you can while you have the time to. If nothing else, at least later on in life you won’t regret having missed out on the opportunity while you had the chance.

As for you parents – your kid not becoming a doctor or an engineer or not getting through to SRCC is not the end of the world. And yes it is perfectly acceptable for guys to take up humanities / arts in their 10+2! Trust me that is some regressive thinking if you don’t think it is and please, for their sake, snap out of it!

24 thoughts on “You always have an option, you just don’t know it yet.

  1. Nice piece. I’d like to add that you’re not “married” to the choice you make at age 17. Life is long and interesting, and will present you with many more opportunities if you only keep your eyes open. So don’t sweat it. The days of a “secure job” are over. This is the age of making an interesting life instead.

  2. Good one 🙂 Its really funny. And I googled Jenna.For anything to love it, u must try it, whether prostitution or anything. Besides having fun and all, there is conscience, which is the most important. Anyway, I got what u wanted to say 🙂

  3. I’m a first time visitor who accidentally bumped into the same pile of words which had been sitting in my head… ages!
    I hope you must have seen the movie “Into the wild”. I’ll share a line from it, ” Nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit of a man than a secure future.” Now it makes sense. 😉

    • sunainak says:

      I guess we all keep having the same realisation over and again. Don’t know how much we end up doing about it though. I haven’t seen the movie you mentioned. Will check it out for sure though. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  4. Shahzar says:

    awesome is the word i’ll use to describe the post i’ve just read.
    Such a great thing you said in this post.
    A very few people considers the options that are available to them. And even less choose to go on a unique path.
    Everyone is including themselves in the mob, the crowd.
    Hats off to your for writing such a great piece of work.

  5. Nice blog post 🙂 I wish I could go back and tell my 17 year old self that you should spend even more time on having fun 🙂

    I completely agree on the not being wedded part – We change directions all the time, and it still works out 🙂

  6. Nice that you take time out to share such stuff.

    I can resonate with it, and I think there is a missing element which will add some perspective:-
    For one to make good money (its not the only measure of success but a substantial one in my book) in a non-mainstream career like “music”, “sports”, “writing”, “fine arts”…, you need to be pretty darn good at what you do. Its not your love for your work, but your competence that takes you to the top. The top 2% are immensely successful irrespective of the field that they choose. But becoming competent enough to make the cut requires consistent action. The good part about loving your work is that the fun makes it effortless.
    As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in “The Outliers”, it takes 10,000 hours of quality time for most people to become extremely competent in their fields. Competent enough to become outliers. Of course to become top 2% you may just need 2-3k hours 😉
    Not discouraging the kids here, but its worthwhile to pick a field you love and pursue it with unmatched passion. Understand your stuff. Become a subject matter expert in it. You’ll be satisfied, famous and rich. Be uncomfortable, take bold decisions – thats when you grow.

    I too invest a bit of my time encouraging youngsters to follow their bliss. Of course there is a lot of delusion and wishful thinking that needs to be chucked out of the window first, its all about confidence and discipline.

    You write well Sunaina, keep kicking.
    We might stumbled upon each other at #NAVTEQDevDay Delhi I suppose.

    • sunainak says:

      Hi Amit, Thank you for the comment. I kinda agree with you, just that you will never have competence on day one, but yeah you have to work hard to acquire it. I personally feel you also have to be on your feet and flexible enough in mindset to adapt with the times. But I speak from personal experience of course.

      I did go to the NavTeq day, so yeah we must’ve met for sure. Nice to connect here again. Thanks for the encouragement :-).

  7. A piece which makes us wonder on the decisions that we had taken. Skillfully written to readers, easy enough to understand, a wonderful insight on taking independent actions.

    @brrahulgowda – via Twitter

  8. Absolutely fabulous!
    and lol i am one of those Engineering + MBA guy who plan to start an ad agency and aspire to become a best selling Fantasy fiction writer 😛
    The way you are brought up has a lot of impact on your early career choices
    for example till 10th i thought Art meant Painting and music
    Commerce meant being an Accountant
    and software engineers were super awesome guys like bill gates
    MBA would make you warren buffet
    (Myths all of them) but no one told us and i for one was ignorant enough.
    but as they say its never too late 😀

  9. Wrote a very long comment and it Dissapperead as i was logged in from another account 😐
    Writing again 😛

    Fabulous post! 😀
    and an engineering + MBA guy here lol 😛
    well the way we are brought up has a lot of impact on our early career choices
    as a kid i thought Art meant Painting
    Commerce was to become an accountant
    software engineers were super cool and filthy rich like bill gates
    MBA was a sure way to a glamorous and Affluent life

    What we never realized that this is only the Forefront the backend is lifeless if you dont love what you do. I plan to start an ad agency write a fantasy fiction novel and may be start a library cum caffe.

    but nobody was there to tell me early in life that i could do all this.

  10. just FYI..

    you can have a wikipedia page under your name in this lifetime is super easy … and….it is free…anddd…you don’t have to be famous for that 🙂

    also..I agree how exciting it is when you are doing what you love to do…like…other then my day job of software engineering..I am working as a professional blogger..and lot of other Internet stuff…it really gives you a kick..

  11. Mini says:

    Wonderful piece. Cab so relate to it n I completely agree…I took science at +2 IT at grads n MBA in finance.Worked for a yr in finance and am into business now.Plan to take up Social Media as my next thing in life:-):-) Lifes a roller coaster ride n enjoying every bit of it.

  12. Good piece ! 😀

    I taught a girl physics & mathematics for her IIT & when she finished the exam and got some 220-ish rank, I asked, which branch are to willing to opt. She said, “I dont know, I just wanted to get through IIT”.

    Thats how the current generation is….

  13. meera s says:

    Interesting, except I heard the same thing in 1991 and I an sure people heard the same thing in 1970.

    It’s all too hip and ‘young’ to say one must pursue what one lives doing. Of course. But one must also eat and life is becoming expensive by the day.

    I have a friend who studied films because she loved it. Her parents would have wanted her to study for an MBA or such, but as the young will have it, she stuck to her choice. Thankfully (?) her parents supported her. Today she is struggling to pay her rent and often doesn’t have money for a simple coffee. She has spent 11 years working in documentaries, which is what she lives, but she doesn’t have the money to replace her old dell phone with a snazzy new one, something g which she would really love. Meanwhile, her friends, who studied Traditional streams, MBA, genome studies, architecture etc, are buying their economic homes and sending to children to fairy tale schools. This friend would live to have a child but she doesn’t have the money.

    We have been pushed towards a socio economic setup where you have to make choices wisely. Deriding traditional choices can be fun, but there is an aspect of practicality in it too.

    Dis you notice how the maximum number of high quality wildlife photographers are software engineers? Because they are the only ones who van afford the gear to pursue their love. Real, full time professional wildlife photographers hardly exist. There is no money in it.

    • sunainak says:

      No. Sorry. Its just that I seldom visit the blog now so the comments sometimes go unnoticed. Of course Google’s tabbed mail interface doesn’t help. I see you wrote a long-ish comment and while you make some valid points, on behalf of all those who choose to stick to their guns and pursue their passion, as does your friend, I’d like to disagree. I am sure they derive some pleasure beyond earning big bucks from pursuing what they really wanna do. I envy such people actually. Maybe because I still struggle with trying to figure out my true passion. Fortunately I stumbled into the creatives so it keeps me busy and satisfied. And for the likes of us, there is the well known adage – if you cannot find the work that you love, love the work that you find :). And THEN the money helps I’m sure 😉 (Koi mujhe bhi paise de do!)

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