In the last couple of days there has been a lot of newsprint devoted to Sachin Tendulkar – the master blaster. Reams have been written about his batting prowess, numbers have been spouted about the records he broke in his 24-year career, peans have been sung about the magic he created on the cricket pitch…. Now, think for a moment how much poorer the country – nay the world – would have been if Sachin Tendulkar’s parents – like most parents today – would have insisted that he become a doctor or engineer. Thankfully for all of us, his father gave him the best advice of all: “Chase your dreams”. How different our country would be, if every parent gave his child this advice. Sadly, the reality is far different. Most parents either want to live their dreams through their children or insist that they follow the safe, tried and tested formula: become a doctor or an engineer.
This obsession with medicine and engineering saddens me. Because it sounds the death knell for millions of dreams. If you aspire to be an engineer or if your passion is to heal people, then of course, that’s what you must do. But if your interests lie elsewhere, if all you want to do is wield a brush, a pen or a camera, but are forced to write code, build bridges or wield a scalpel, the world loses your talent, your passion, your magic.
When I was the Creative Director of an advertising agency, I would receive dozens of resumes from Engineers who wanted to become copywriters. My first question to them was always: “Why do you want to become a copywriter?” “Because I always wanted to” would be the answer. “Then why did you do Engineering?” “Because our parents forced us to”, they would inevitably say. Now these were young men and women who loved to write, who knew that this is what they always wanted to do, but could not stand up against their parents. The result? They spent four years in an Engineering College, studying subjects that did not excite them or tickle their imagination while they could have used this time to do a course in English Literature or Mass Communication. Something that would have made them better writers. Something that would have honed their skills. Something that would have better equipped them for a career in copywriting.
I despair for all those innumerable youth who have been forced to put their dreams in cold storage. Who live unhappy lives doing things they don’t enjoy and promise themselves: “Some day…”
Some day, I will go around the world with my camera. Some day, I will write a Booker Prize-winning novel. Some day, I will paint a masterpiece. Some day, I will have a chain of restaurants….
Will that some day ever come? Sometimes, it does. That’s when you hear stories of IT Techies getting into organic farming. Or writing a best-seller. Or re-discovering their passions. But that’s not always the case. For the rest, that ‘some day’ never comes. And they trudge through their careers without joy, a square peg in a round hole, burying their dreams in mediocrity.
And who wins in this rat race? Nobody.
So follow your dreams, I wish to tell the youth. Don’t bow down to pressure – parental or societal. Don’t give up on all that you can be. Because when you live your dreams, when you follow your passions, when you blossom, the whole country thrives.
Don’t pressurize your children, is my advice to parents. Don’t sacrifice their dreams at the altar of your ambitions or what you think is a well-paying career. Who knows, there may be a Tendulkar, a Lata Mangeshkar, a Vinci or a Shakespeare hidden in your child. Let his talent emerge. The world will thank you for it.
Years ago, as a student, I had read this beautiful quote and I have lived by these sentiments all my life.
Hold fast to your dreams
For if your dreams die
Life is like a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.