When you reach an important and decisive phase of your life - Class 10 every party or family function you attend becomes more of a job interview and less of an occasion. Every second person asks you, "What do you plan to take in Class 11?", and dare you say, "I've not decided yet", they start acting like free-of-cost career counsellors.
It gets worse. Even if you have decided that you want to take arts, you start getting weird looks and your parents have a hard time explaining, "Ji bachchi ne IAS karna hai, iss layi arts le rahi hai, nahi taan science waleyan tonh ghat nahin"(Our daughter is interested in becoming an IAS officer, that's why she's taking arts; otherwise, she's no less than a science student).
In India, a child's career is decided even before deciding the name. As said in 3 Idiots, 'Ladki hui toh doctor aur ladka toh engineer' (If it's a girl, she'll become a doctor; if a boy, an engineer). Mine, too, was pre-decided.
I had decided from the beginning (around Class 3) that I would become a lawyer. Obviously, it was not solely my decision; it was influenced by the people around me. But then I grew up, and discovered how corrupt lawyers are. Then, I decided I'll become an IAS officer as many former students of our school have become. The way they are honoured in school and invited as chief guests made me wish to be like them. I wanted my parents and family to be called on stage and honoured.
But then the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) happened, and you're considered nothing but a fool if you take arts after clearing NTSE. Expectations rise, and you're seen as the next IIT or PMT topper. Strike out PMT because it takes longer to complete graduation and then settle down in the medical profession. But engineering is a short cut four years and then placement or MBA.
Moreover, if you plan to take IAS after doing BA, you are asked the most demoralising and depressing question, "What if you don't clear IAS? What is your Plan B?" I have no answer. Well, I want to study mathematics and psychology, which is a terrible combination. No matter how hard you try to prove your point, you are always pulled down and advised to take the tried-and-tested career options of engineering or medical.
Such reactions scare me a little. It always becomes scary when 'What if?' comes into question. I always wanted to do something different. I want to do something I am happy at, as the song by Jon Bon Jovi goes, "I ain't gonna be just the face in the crowd, You're gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud, It's my life and its now or never". But if you don't risk anything, you risk everything.
So, it's decided. I'll take the risk.
Hopefully, in the future I would be able to say:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."