It took me years before I finally realised what I love doing and what I’m good at. As a child, I firmly knew that I loved arts and crafts. I used to spend a lot of time trying to be creative and while my Mum encouraged it, school ultimately won over my time.
Once I was into primary school this flame inside me, of drawing/painting/being creative, was decreasing into nonexistence. My parents were more concerned about looking at top scores and grades on a piece of paper rather than my passion and interests, which truly made me happy instead of maths or science.
Secondary school was the worst. I was thrust into a hectic schedule of studying and GCSE’s invaded majority of my time. While choosing my GCSE options, I was determined to choose photography and music. However, my parents convinced me to not take photography because it wasn’t worth a GCSE to take pictures. Music was ruled out because it wasn’t “academic” enough. To say I was incredibly frustrated is an understatement. I ended up doing subjects I didn’t even enjoy. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I had followed my heart instead of my parents. It didn’t help that my grandfather told me that medicine was the best path for me, despite the fact that I absolutely detest science.
Then came college. This current part of my life so far has been a significant improvement. My parents are now more accepting towards my career aspirations after they saw the hell I experienced during GCSE. I took subjects that I was genuinely interested in for once, although I still regret not taking photography once again.
Perhaps the problem underlies in the fact that my culture is rather restrictive when it comes to an individual’s passion. I’m sure you’re aware of the typical Indian stereotype of every student being forced to take either medicine or engineering. Believe me, I’ve been to India several times and pretty much everyone I’ve met is either studying to become a doctor/nurse, engineer or accountant. I can’t help but feel sorry for them. Good for them if they truly love these career paths but surely, there are many Indian youths who would rather study something else. My oldest cousin was originally studying accounting or something related to economics/business. But he simply didn’t want to go down that route and our family realised that it wasn’t working for him. Now he’s studying hotel management and is seemingly a lot happier. Unfortunately, India has still yet to move forward in this area. Anything that does not fit the traditional standards is usually seen as a hobby rather than a potential career choice, such as art. Being raised in Britain is certainly a blessing as it has opened doors for me that would not have happened had I remained in India.
My struggle in finding my passion wasn’t just about my future career, but also in discovering what I’m good at. Some of the biggest things in my life which I am upset about is not being able to develop my art skills. Since I was continuously forced to study, I never had much time to practice drawing or painting. Thus, my artistic skills are still very basic compared to my friends who are now almost at a professional level. Now that I have slightly more freedom, I’ve been returning to my beloved world of creativity and will keep working to hone my skills.
My advice to you is to go ahead and follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone judge your aspirations and keep practising so you’ll become good at what you love doing. If you’re still young then I cannot stress enough how you should do so, because later in life you will look back at that former glory and regret not following your heart just like I have. Explore different things, find what you’re good at and what you love and it can be anything. Then stick to it because it will be the key thing that will define YOU.