It began with the regular WhatsApp conversation on the night before (read: I-haven’t-studied-anything-I-am-going-to-fail-night) of my friend’s exam. Her final semester exam.
Friend 1: Bohot ho gaya! I can’t take this anymore! I am off to Himalayas.
Friend 2: Count me in.
Me: Oh! Me too!
Friend 1: I really, really can’t sit for this exam man, I know nothing.
Me: Ya lets go to Night’s Watch instead and accompany Jon Snow then, Himalayas be so mainstream anyway!
Friend 2: LOL! See you tomorrow.
9.oo a.m. Examination Hall.
Friend 2: DUDE! She really skipped the exam!!
And few hours later… She was found in her home, explaining to her parents about her impulsive decision, and how she is ready to take full responsibility, and whatever comes with it. The parents, however, were too baffled to react.
This could have been a less dramatic and less theatrical episode, had Education not been just about accumulation of degrees and ‘settling’ down in our society. She wasn’t sure of what she wanted next, she wanted time, and this is how she bought it for herself. And unfortunate as it might be, in most cases, impulsive and rash decisions help students break the claustrophobic routine of life that an Indian must follow- 10th,12th, Graduation, Post Graduation, Job, Marriage, Kids, retirement, ALL of which needs to be attained in a certain age and time frame. A major part of this time is spend in the education system, and the rest of it depends on which part of the education system time was spent in, ironic much?
The idea of not living upto these expectations has made students and their parents so paranoid, that sometimes over 2-3 ‘back up plans’ exist in place, instead of one clear sense of direction. Instead of focusing all energies on finding that one passion, everyone is so caught up giving the next entrance, securing ‘seats’, finding jobs. Eventually, these ‘directionless wanderers’ resort to a path chalked out for them by others, because obviously one cannot falter, one doesn’t have all the time in the world to decide what is it that they really want to do. For, once you have been provided with the ‘best education’, the next obvious step is to launch into the ‘real’ world, with a ‘real’ job.
“I am pursuing M.A, only because if I don’t study further, mummy toh shaadi karwa degi. Papa is adamant already.” said another friend on asking why she is pursuing her Post-Graduation in English. Mind you this is a resident of Delhi, if you assume otherwise.
It is precisely at this junction, that the idea of taking a ‘gap year’ comes in handy. An idea very much encouraged in West, but the word itself is frowned upon in our country. A gap year in India can only come about, if the following ‘conditions apply‘ tag accompanies it:
*For Engineering, MBA, MBBS, UPSC, SSC aspirants only. If you happen to be a ‘I-am-still-confused-need-time-to-think’ kind of student, better better figure out your calling soon, or better still, join the above list of aspirants.*
The concept of taking some time off means to look back and take a moment to introspect, and judge whether one is one the right track after all. Whether the dreams and ambitions that seemed realistic in college will actually be met or not? The naysayers who think that it is a blot on the CV, and suddenly become all philosophical with clichéd arguments like ‘Time waits for none’, and ‘There is no getting younger’, must also remember ‘Not all those who wander are lost’. One needs to question what is it to really ‘settle down’? Is that ‘settlement’ really worth it all?
At times, it really is okay to play into the chaos, as long as it leads one to the path that is theirs, chosen by them, owned by them and loved by them. Everybody deserves their fair share of chaos. It’s time for the ‘chaos’ to be seen as the ‘ladder’ to greater things in life. It’s time to explain the dilemma of ‘what next?’ with ownership and warmth, and not embarrassment and fear. And if you still aren’t convinced, revisit the actual foundation of education, which is supposed to strengthen and liberate an individual with knowledge and information, and not leave one debilitating and handcuffed.