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!

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