Tuesday, April 15, 2014

N is Number 1

These are the times of rat race. Everyone is running to achieve the number 1 spot in their respective fields. Cricketers, film stars, businessmen, the common man, housewives and even children are not spared from it. From kindergarten starts the mad rush to always be numero uno in studies, sports and extra curricular activities. In fact, kids start the rat race as young as infants. Baby shows are quite popular these days and children are made to pose, preen and what not to "win". I know the world is competitive and all that. And you have got to be the best to survive here yada yada. 

But I have a different theory regarding the Number 1 , especially in the case of young children. And this came about as a result of the introspection of my own life. I was a Number 1 child in my days :-P

I always stood first in the class, participated in debates and elocutions and also played sports. I was considered an intelligent student. Or may be I even was. But that's not the point. The same happened in college. I was the batch topper, excelled my subjects and participated in cultural as well as technical fests. In fact I was always made fun of as the "topper" girl. And like with all classes, through school and college, we had these average children who the teachers always scolded and said they would not make anything of themselves in their life. 

Now, after more than 10 years of passing school and 7 years of graduation (engineering), I work for an MNC and earn peanuts. While so many of those average kids have gone on to do their masters and doctorates and are earning quite well. Most of them are living abroad while some of the most notorious ones have joined the Indian Army.  The best example here would be of my husband. When I met him first after finishing college, I had a job offer with an IT major while he was still figuring out what he wanted to do with his life. He was appearing for exams and giving interviews, and not getting much success. And for what it's worth, he now works for an MNC too and earns more than me. Not that I am complaining though ;-)

A couple of years back, it used to puzzle me. Where did I lag behind? What did I do wrong? And slowly I saw a pattern. Most of the people who were average had minimum or no expectations from family and teachers. And so they went about school or college with being number 2 or 10 or 20. They had less or no fear of failure because, much of it, in fact, was expected of them. But people like us, the Number 1s had a reputation to uphold. We couldn't fail. And so went on with school and college being the number 1s, but we burned ourselves out.  That burden of expectations and praise took a toll on the likes of us. It did far more bad than good to us. 

And so, I know that when my little one grows up, I will encourage her to study, participate everywhere she can but being number 1? Never. At least that's not a point I am going to push. If it happens, good. If she can maintain it, even better. But I now know what's best. And I couldn't have agreed more with this dialouge from the movie Three Idiots, "bacche, kabil bano kabil. Kamyabi to saali jhak maar ke peechey aayegi"
It basically translates to this



20 comments:

  1. I am so glad Ghata you wrote about it. I was like you, almost same story. Now when I look back, I realise I missed on so many things because I was always focused on being number 1. Never really had too much fun growing up. Hence I decided I will move away from the rat race, neither I nor my kids will be a part of this. If they really want to study hard and excel in anything, they will decide. It will be always there choice. My elder one goes to a school which is focused on holistic learning. They have no exams. Though I have been getting a lot of flak for it, from other parents but I don't care. I know in my heart, it is a correct decision. :)

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  2. A lovely take on N !
    We are all in a rats race, so true ! I can relate to this wonderful post of yours !
    Looking forward to read more.

    http://www.ananyatales.com

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  3. waah, huband ki baja :P

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  4. husband ki baja di

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  5. Oh you read my mind. I was thinking the same. I, a topper, have been sitting here at home cribbing and ranting while my friends are doing so well in their lives, both personal and professional. And here I am struggling with both. :D

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  7. I have been wondering about this too..You have put in a very interesting perspective.. I was a good student,but now I feel, like what is the difference anyway..All of my classmates are doing equally good.. I am burned out for sure and just want to take few months off and relax...

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  8. Enjoyed reading it. I love the 3 idiots quote u used in the end. But going abroad and hitting a jack pot some times depends on "goodluck" as well but ya I agree that No 1s have hell lot of pressure on them. I know it pretty well and I take this opp to announce that I was a number one too but nothing came easily to me :( :)

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  9. In my childhood, my mother always wanted me to be No.1 in everything I did, which often made me feel overwhelmed and unhappy. Certainly, she made me what I am today, but I wish I hadn't suffered from my 'perfectionism' so much. There are many things more important than trying to live up to other people's and our own expectations.
    I enjoyed reading your insightful post.

    http://romisdg.blogspot.jp/

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  10. Enjoyed reading this post. Insightful. As someone said, even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat :)
    I like the quote from 3 Idiots, makes so much sense.

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  11. I was not number 1 and was always in the 'scolded' list because my siblings were toppers. That was enough for me to decide how i wanted my children to be brought up :) In fact I have had to fight off teachers who said 98 was not enough, the child should have got 100/100 like many other kids. And guess what my son was ONLY in LKG at the time.

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  12. The problem in rat race is that you are still a rat even you win the race. I liked your article. You could have quoted me as an example as well :P.. But on the serious side you hit the nail right on its head, I do not want my daughter to enter in such a mess where we have to force our decision and kill the inner natural talent in her.

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  13. My favourite film, and I agree with you all the way. Success has nothing to do how well you did in school. Whether you were Number 1 or 2 or whether you scraped through, life judges you in other ways.

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  14. I totally agree with you Ghats. Especially observed this in China and Hong Kong where kids are expected to start preparing for stiff interviews at 2 years of age!
    To me people who are primarily driven by external recognition (that's what Number 1 signifies to me) are unjust to their potential. They either burn themselves out or live miserable lives even if they become "successful" by their own standards. I remember being complimented by a "topper" friend a few years ago that she was surprised to see me go this far, as you know I was among those average people in the class. Though, when for my own sake, I'll move on from this corporate job into something less paying or lucrative, the same friend will perhaps see me as a loser who couldn't cope up with the pressure. I wish we all gave each other the freedom to define our own success. Pursuit of excellence comes from within to all great people (be it Sachin or Einstein), and so their effort must not be painful and really well-yielding. Screw everything, I hope to have that effortless passion for excellence some day. What a beautiful life that would be! :)

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  15. Good job Ghata!! I am 100% agreed with you...

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  16. I couldn't agree more with you. Academic excellence is no indication of your success in life. While my benchmarks for success is not in how much I earn, I understand what you are saying. Pushing yourself to come first didn't give you as big a reward as it ought to have. I was an average student too. As for my measure of success, I'll just say this: I recently read that if you can look back on your life and find reasons to smile, you are successful. By that criterion, I am successful. And so, I am sure, are you. Your academic scores never had anything to do with your inner joy. :)

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  17. You have put this across so well ! I have always felt that I am not pushing my child enough.Your post has calmed me . Thank you !

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  18. Agree with you. I am an average student and so are my kids...I don't have any expectation from them...they can choose what they want to be. This a lot many parents should understand.

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  19. I absolutely hate the way parents, teachers and adults put kids down who don't have the intellectual prowess in one particular subject! It's as if, if you cannot become a doctor or engineer, then you're worth nothing!
    I'm not surprised that these people do well. Not just because of no pressure but also because they probably have a lot of EQ to get through those growing years, don't you think?!

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  20. it's funny. we're actually in the middle of conducting a research/thesis about the success rate of the honors graduates of our college and I'm suddenly inspired to focus on it because of your post. haha. Motivating. I'm not really one of those who focus on being number one and now I know I also have the chance to do better. ;)

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