Like many starry eyed yet misguided students in our parody of an educational system, I took up Science in 10+2.
Now, I don’t have anything against the sciences. If I've learnt anything from Bill Nye the Science Guy, Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, it's that we'd still be cave-men were it not for the various branches of the sciences. But in my case, opting for science was a very important mistake. Sure, it’s not every day that you hear the words “important” and “mistake” in the same sentence, but hear me out.
Soon after I cleared my 10th Board Exams, I was faced with a difficult choice. And the sad part about this is that the choice is dictated in equal part by societal pressure as it is by misinformation. Back then;
You could pick Science, which basically means that you could end up as a doctor or engineer.
Then you could pick Commerce, which around 9-10 years ago, meant that you would become a CA. No one knew what that meant, but it was very important.
And lastly, you could pick “Arts,” which would set you up for 2 years of condescension from your neighbours as the kid who couldn't score enough marks to get through either science or commerce.
Yes, it was a fudged up state of affairs back then. Why our education system used (and still uses) “marks” and “percentages” to determine what subjects a child can pick or not pick is something that is beyond my understanding.
But I digress. So at that crucial stage of my school life, I decided that I would take up PCM with Informatics Practices. The last bit means that you learn some rudimentary shit about computers and coding.
Why did I do this? Because I loved cars. I loved everything about them. I used to love shows like “Pimp My Ride” and “West Coast Customs.” I wanted to design and build cars. And in my infinitely limited wisdom, I thought that I could achieve that goal by studying, you know, like how tires moves and stuff. It was kind of like wanting to learn how to swim, but joining the track team instead.
Of course, my parents were super happy. I was going to become an engineer. I thought that I had done fairly well in Math and basic Science before this, so it couldn't be that much difficult, could it? Woohoo!
But my misconceptions were cleared on the first day itself. The physics teacher stepped into the class & I got ready to take notes and do some Science and shit. And then he started saying things that made no sense at all. He could have been speaking Greek. And I was like…
It was pretty much downhill after that.
I went from a “model student” to a “duffer.”
I went from the front of the class to being a “back bencher.”
I spent most of my time doodling on my notebook or taking naps between lectures.
Disappointed a lot of teachers.
And thanks to hundreds of late night mugging sessions;
I somehow pulled through 11th and 12th. Barely. Which brought me to my first realization;
“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”
10+2 Science and Math is hella complex guys. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There’s Math in Physics. There’s Physics in Math. And there’s Math and Physics in Chemistry. I don’t even know if I got that right. I didn't really pay much attention. But the gist is that you should choose the Sciences if you really love them. It pays to be really good at Math as well. So here’s the thing, Science is pretty freaking awesome. Every person should be curious about it. But if you aren't cut out for it, don’t tread down that path. However, if you love it, then there’s no better way to go.
“Choose wisely, live well.”
Before you choose your specialization, go to a career counsellor. Ask your parents. Think about what you want to do and how you’ll get to it. It always pays to make a well-informed, intelligent choice. And even if you make the wrong one because you weren't that well informed or your parents put you up to it, it’s not the end of days. However, always remember that;
“What other people think or say doesn't matter.”
What people think of you is not important. You have to feel good about yourself and keep it that way. Don’t let a teacher’s assessment of you and your capabilities affect your self-confidence. What the heck, I’ll quote a scientist. Albert Einstein once said,
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
You’re a genius. And if you've picked the wrong specialization and are being troubled for it, remember, you’re not stupid. You’re just a fish climbing a tree. Stick to that if you like, or find your river and swim.
“It’s never too late to change.”
Sure, it’ll mean a lot of work and adjusting yourself to a lot of new subjects, but if you’re up to it, don’t hesitate. And I mean this for any specialization. If you love the Arts and ended up choosing Commerce, change. If you’re an Arts students who would rather study economics, change. It’s never too late.
See, I stuck with Science till the end. So I can’t really push you to try and switch. But that experience was valuable to me. At the end of it all, I knew I wasn't meant to “do Science.” So I packed my bags, chucked the plan my parents had for me and strode out on my own path. And that made all the difference.
“Trust me. Everything will be okay in the end.”
Choosing the wrong stream and sticking to it is not the end of the world. There’ll plenty of opportunities to change paths, choose something else and do what you love in the future. All you have to do is be honest to yourself.
I took Science in 10+2, then I did a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, then I did Advertising and PR and now I've become a writer. Sure, it’s been a long road. Sure, there were times when I was filled with doubt and sometimes, dread. Do I regret any of it? Hell no. These errors in judgement and so called “bad decisions” helped me realize what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do.
They say wise men learn from the mistakes of others. Well, I’d rather be a fool and learn from my own. Because those are the lessons that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
Make mistakes. Experiment. And always follow your heart. It knows what it’s doing. In the end, you WILL find your river, you magnificent fish, you.