I am a 17-year-old teenager. Maybe just like every other 17-year-old, or maybe not.
I am about to share the battles I fight with my inner self, not at every moment of the day, but a major part of it.
Like most other Indian parents, mine too thought that science would be the ideal choice for any child.
Considering that I was just a kid and not capable of taking my own decision, I was partially forced into taking Science.
Till class 10, I was a free-spirited person, very involved in my friends, family, sports and every other thing that intrigues most teenagers.
I wasn’t really pretty, not at all to be precise. I was mostly the athletic one. Not getting attention from boys did not really bother me. I still considered all of them my friends.
I was part of every school event, took part in almost all the sports and had a lot of friends.
However, I could not talk freely to people, without caring about their judgment.
From the beginning, there was a lot of friction between my parents and me. My initial proposals to do anything or go anywhere were always met with heated arguments.
They always insulted me and called me a failure at every stage of life.
Sports have always been an integral part of my life. In fact, my parents introduced me to basketball.
Since I was tall in comparison to Indian standards and had an ‘athletic figure’, my coaches always told me that I could have a future in the professional circuit. Initially, I did not like the idea of going out to an unknown place, where every face was new.
But slowly, I started liking and eventually loving it.
Like several other people, I too dreamed of reaching the top and never stopping; thoughts which I now laugh upon.
Though my parents introduced me to this sport, they didn’t look at it as anything more than an ‘exercise’ to keep myself ‘fit’.
Therefore, I was obviously stopped from pursuing the sport beyond the district level. Because, of course, how could they allow a 13-year-old girl to go to other states alone, without her parents and so on.
Their excuse was the sorry plight of sports in India, how unsafe it was for girls and how women in sports are looked down upon in India.
As I went to higher classes, my sports practice was stopped because of the increasing pressure of studies. It was a harsh truth that I had never even dreamt of.
I could not even imagine how evenings on the weekend would be without basketball. They always told me that I could go back to the sport once I had taken admission in a good college, and frankly, I started waiting for that day to come.
3 years have passed and now, I don’t even look forward to that day.
The thought of how the people I played with have blossomed into better players and how my journey has been a downfall has given me an inferiority complex.
At that time, it felt like the worst that could happen to me. But that was before I knew how the 10+2 education in the science stream would be.
I was one of the very few people from my class 10 group to take up science. As a result, at the beginning of class 11, I felt out of my comfort zone.
On the first day, I walked into my new section and realized that I knew just a handful of people, that too not personally, in the class of 48 students. But I was very optimistic and somehow, came to terms with reality.
Also, I was enrolled into an IIT coaching centre, yes, another trademark of Indian parents. I was even quite focused in the beginning.
I was expected to give up all my interests, not step out of my house except for tuitions, shut myself in a room without any distractions, or communication with the outer world and study for 16 hours a day.
I was not allowed to take any holidays; I haven’t stepped out of the station in the past 2 years. These expectations were considered very normal.
However, I was determined to make friends and started talking to my classmates. And I did make some good ones, for whom I am very thankful.
My class 10 boards results were also good, so the expectations from people increased.
But as the workload and pressure increased, I started losing interest.
In the meantime, I got involved in a long distance relationship with a past classmate, which did not work out well and also affected my studies.
Not that I blame him because it was my fault that I allowed things to take such a turn, but I do blame the relationship.
It lasted a year, all through class 11, and it harmed me. I never flunked any subject but I didn’t do well either. I just managed to scrape through. The only subject that interested me was my elective and I scored really well in it.
That was when I made up my mind to pursue my elective as Honors in college, instead of Engineering, but I was afraid to tell my parents about my decision.
They had put in a lot of money in my IIT coaching, and coming from a middle-class family, the fact that I would waste that and how they’d react to my views was a constant source of my fear. The bad grades resulted in a constant tussle with my parents.
I'd disappointed them and they sensed that I was involved in a relationship, which they did not approve of.
Everything summed up to be very disturbing. Class 11 ended like this, and the same continued through Class 12. Now, I am almost at the end of my school life.
I have my class 12 boards coming up in less than two months. There are times when I slip into depression and contemplate about my uncertain future.
To date, I have not figured how to like the subjects that I loathe.
It’s not that I don't have dreams. I too dream of going to the best colleges in the country, or even outside, but I seldom find the urge to pursue those dreams.
I do sit to study, but I don't love it. I could never love these subjects.
Whenever I see a senior or a relative gaining admission in a good college, I dream of going there myself, I dream of how amazing the experience would be, and the pride.
But I can never force myself to do the hard work to reach there.
Loving one particular subject will not get me a seat; I need to be equally good in all, which is something I’m unable to achieve.
There are times when I feel that I would have probably done better in Humanities than PCM, but it’s too late for that.
At this particular moment, when my peers are slogging, I am writing down my emotions; something that I feel no one cares about but I hope to be free of them once I’ve written them down.
My parents don’t believe in me anymore. They have accepted that I am good for nothing. I cannot think of anything that I can do to make them feel differently.
I don’t know how to tell them that I am good at other things, things that are not the center of their mindsets.
Thanks to the Indian education system, where instead of creating an interest in subjects, 12 (minimum 4 for each subject) fat books are thrown at a student’s face.
Thanks to this system, I have lost my spark, and the self-confidence I once had.
Thanks to the examination system, I struggle with low self-esteem, which is falling further down every single day.
But this is just a phase. Somehow, I will pass through it. Maybe, I have something even worse in store for me ahead.
There are so many questions I feel inside me all the time, but there’s no one I can ask.
I don’t have my freedom. I feel stuck. Stuck in my room. Stuck in my thoughts. And stuck in this system.
When I think about the future, I see things getting worse. I am unable to find peace within me.
I don’t see hope anywhere.