I am an Indian, and this story is about our lives as Indians. We are too many of us and so we think someone would take our place, the moment we leave. In the rush to find our spot, we never take the time to understand if life has meaning, happiness or substance. Fellow Indians, please slow down.
India, and Indians
The Indian population at the time of writing this post is 1.38 billion, and expanding. We would soon cross China as the most populated country in the world. Being so populated, we have done a lot of harm to ourselves. There are people everywhere you go in India, and hence there is more supply than demand in most jobs, and careers. The Indian education system is at par with the world, but it is the sheer number of people who creates the rush to get ahead of everyone else. Indians, because of the competitive spirit reach some of the highest places in the world, but they fail to unleash their own creativity, and end up working for the west.
Parents expect their kids to get a job-any job, and in the rush to get a job, and then compete with the rest of the Indian population, we lost ourselves, and a sense of what our individual identities should be. We become a part of the crowd.
One life, so much to do
I didn’t do much work today. I generally get a decent amount of work done in a day to be able to look at myself with respect at the day of the day. However, I have deliberately tried to slow down over the years.
It wasn’t always so. During my undergraduate life, I tried to be a chartered accountant, a journalist, an MBA and many other things. I was desperate to learn something which will get me a job-ANY JOB. I didn’t care why I needed that job, besides that jobs pay. But I wanted a job. That’s what I was told to do. My father once famously said, to me, that he would have been happy if I got 10000 bucks a month.
I rushed through my college life, through my 20’s. Although, I finally got an MBA but I had to take the CAT exam 5 times. I hated it. But I was in a rush. So, I didn’t ask myself the why’s.
I rushed through most of my life. At some point, when I had a decent job, I realized that I wasn’t quite happy. Happiness somewhere got sacrificed in the rush. I didn’t know why I was doing what I was doing and I had just rushed through 3 decades of my life.
Why we must slow down as Indians
At some point, I decided not to rush anymore, when the speed is within my control. Sometimes, I still do it unconsciously, but again, I remind myself not to rush. I want to smell the flowers, want to leave a legacy. Also, I want to know why I am doing what I am doing. And I want to do work that matters, with people who matter.
Think about Rudyard Kipling for a minute. What is he famous for? He is famous for a poem called “If”. How many people left something after they died which the world values? Only a few. Even if we don’t care what Rudyard Kipling did for most of his life, but he left a poem which has inspired millions. That’s leaving a legacy.
We cannot leave a legacy if we don’t know where we are headed. Most of us, at least in India, don’t know what we are passionate about. We don’t know why we do what we do, besides mercenary reasons. It is a sad way to live life. A mercenary life is not a worthy life.
The society looks down on prostitutes because they sell their bodies for money. Many of us are selling our souls for money and we want to be respected for that.
Please slow down, fellow Indians, and try to understand why life matters
We need to slow down-take a break and think who we are. We need to understand what we are passionate about. I am no authority on the subject but I have had my own journey and struggles to understand who I am. Since I am writing this piece, I would love to propose a few questions that probably could help us in connecting us with our true selves:
- What is the key reason that drives me to do what I do?
- If nobody paid me anything, what would I be willing to do for free?
- If I had all the money, how would I spend my time?
- What do I love?
- Who do I love? Why do I love this person?
- Who do I admire? Why do I admire this person?
- What am I passionate about?
- If I could live an idealistic life, what might it look like?
- What is one thing about me that’s unique?
- Who am I at the core?
Well, I could go on. These are just some of the questions that could perhaps begin to unravel for us the mystery of who we are. As Indians, there is tremendous pressure on our lives to move from one milestone to another:
I am not saying there is anything wrong with the sequence. However, it is important that there is meaning at every step. After all, life without meaning is a worthless life. We can only create meaning when know who we are and why we do what we do.
Take it slow
So, may be, take it slow.
Give yourself a year off.
Or a few months off.
A week off.
Take a day off.
Thank you for reading.
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