For those not from Bombay/India, the school system is such that the Year 10 school certificate exam has somewhat more importance than the HSC or Year 12 exams. That’s because you choose your stream (Arts, Commerce or Science) after Year 10. And that, in turn, determines your career path. It’s a bit restrictive especially if you choose Arts or Commerce because you can’t change to Science after Year 12. On the other hand, if you go with Science in Years 11 and 12, and then change your mind, you can move to any other field. To cut a long story short, Science is given more importance, followed by Commerce, whereas Arts used to be considered a field you didn’t choose — rather it was one you had no choice but to do because you didn’t get a good enough mark to get into Science or Commerce.
During my Year 10, I had made up my mind. I was not going to jump on the science bandwagon like everyone else I knew.
I hated physics and chemistry. I didn’t particularly wanted to work with numbers or in the business sector. That left me with Arts as a choice since I loved English (The plan then was to become a journalist).
My dad had no problem with my choice. My mum, while she didn’t have any problems initially, got a tad influenced by “well-wishers” who thought I should do Science as it would open up more opportunities for me. Plus, since I actually had the marks to get into the Science stream, these people were all the more convinced I should do that. That’s Indian society for you…everyone wants to offer their two cents’ worth — even if they haven’t been asked!!
I can still remember my arguments to convince my mum that I was doing the right thing. I remember telling her that if I were to take up Science in Years 11 and 12, and then decided to change to Arts, given the fact that I’m not good at Science, I would end up with low marks in the HSC and it would make it more difficult for me to get into a good Arts or journalism college. The second argument was how I would be saving them money because not taking up Science meant I wouldn’t be going for all the extra tuition that costs thousands and thousands of rupees.
In the end, she bought the arguments and stopped listening to people who did not matter.
The rest, as they say, is history. I got into one of the best colleges for Arts in Bombay and needless to say, 5 years there changed my life. It changed me as a person. It broadened my mind and my horizons. And I am so grateful for that.
More importantly, I’m glad I was stubborn and stuck to my guns.
By the way, there were some “well-wishers” who had something to say about my choice of college due to it historci reputation of smokers and potheads. My take on that: Don’t I have a fucking brain of my own to make up my own mind?
Yes, people said I had changed. But I’m willing to bet they will say that again now that I’ve been in Australia for 4 years.
Do I regret anything?
I do think I made the right choice in terms of my major…journalism was not meant for a social phobic like me.
Psychology is giving me all I could ask for — challenges, something new everyday, interacting with people on a one-to-one or small group level.
A decade on, I am not the nervous 15 year old standing in line for admission into the college. Yes, I’m still stubborn. But now, I voice my opinions a lot more. I’m a lot more confident than I have ever been. I love what I do.
And most importantly, I am happy with who I am — something I probably wasn’t at 15.
Until next time,