LET’S STRESS ABOUT STRESS
Here’s what happens when hapless students write to hopeless columnists
Aa gaya hai jee….JEE ka result, aapki aur meri jaan ka dushman. Hello, good people. I have no strength left to continue giving sermons on the insignificance of examination results when it comes to eventual happiness, or the lack of it, in life. Kitni baar same baat boloon? Still, each year, it’s a flood of mails that land up in my inbox after the results of Board exams, as well as exams for ‘entrance’ to four years of further undiluted misery. Lakhs of studentsoldiers carry their parents’ expectations and aashirwad on their shoulders to brave out the challenge. Some become subjects of pride and flash a victory sign in newspaper interviews, while the others grieve and write mails to hopeless columnists like yours truly.
Is baar toh hadd kar di nah ek Udaipur ke ladke ne. Yaar, 360/360 in IIT entrance, koi karta hai aise? Itne marks mein toh an entire class could have got through and made it to ceramics engineering at least. Vaise, we are such grumbling losers. The young man is brilliant and deserves all the limelight. But unka kya jo lakhpati ban gaye — I mean, one lakh something rank holders. Someone else scored 100% and just handed over 100% free supply of taunts to your parents for, at least, the next one week. Ha!
‘Do NOT carry photos of top scorers in your paper, hamaari waat lagti hai,’ wrote Gurvinder from Bathinda, poore dhamki waale style mein. Now tell me Guri puttar, how will you and your brothers-sisters get inspired if we do not highlight the achievements of toppers? And as responsible media, hamara tumhare parents ki taraf bhi kuchh farz banta hai. Who else will give them the ammunition? Stop whining and aim for 360, not 063 next year.
Okay, jokes apart…it’s a seriously stressful time for lakhs out there. Yes, I know you worked hard. Yes, I know there’s too much competition. Yes, I know it has been your dream to crack the JEE. Yes, I know you wanted to make your parents proud. But you also know that this is exactly what every single one of the 12 lakh students who took the JEE mains felt like. Say yes? Then why do so many of you do not realise the reality that comes with the task of competing. There would be some who’ll win, and for them to do so, there would have to be some who will lose. Why does such a simple thing be so difficult to understand and accept for the otherwise tremendously intelligent and bright youngsters.
Why do we see endless cases of depression, with some even going to the extent of giving up on life, because they couldn’t bear the shock of not making it through an exam?
You know what the answer to this paradox is?
1 We never prepared them
for rejection: Our generation of progressive and evolved parents does everything right, except teach our kids how to deal with disappointment. A recent Whatsapp forward by a friend narrated how at a kid’s birthday party, the hosts changed the format of the traditional ‘passing the parcel’ game to ensure that each kid who had the parcel in hand when the music stopped, got to keep it as a gift. ‘This way, no kid loses and becomes sad’, was the reason. It sounds perfectly alright but then these ‘happy’ kids would not know the feeling of losing, and realising that it’s absolutely okay to do so.
We protect them way
too much: We are so heartbroken at seeing our kid sad that given a choice, we would let him or her go about their entire life with a protective cover around them. This manifests as us fighting with their teachers if they get scolded in the class, if they don’t get a part in the school play…even with other kids if our kid doesn’t get to be on the jhoola in the park. We are there for them, blinding them to hurt, grief, disappointment of any kind. We fight for no-exam policy all through schooling, and then when he or she suffers a shock on not getting through the entrance test, we blame the entire education system. I don’t think parents realised when they crossed over the line from being the generation ‘jisme bachchey apne aap pal jaate the’ to an over-fussed one ‘jahan hum unhe adult hote huye bhi paal rahe hain.’ I remember when as a kid, I would fall on the ground, my mom would say ‘kuchh nahi hua. Stand up’. Now when my two-year-old trips over accidently, the entire family rushes to comfort her. Playfully so, but mom even hits the ground as a punishment for making her fall. I’m sure it’s the same at your home. So eventually, there’ll be a generation of adults that has never seen failure, not faced rejection AND expects an instant reprimand for anyone who hurts them. Well. 3 We are suffering from delusional optimism: In the age of self-help books, motivational gurus and all your Facebook friends ready to tell you 24X7 that you are absolutely amazing, it’s not tough to avoid falling into the trap of self-pity if anything goes wrong, even remotely. Like not getting through JEE. Or having a bad hair day. Are you getting my point? It’s actually quite nice to look at positives in life, and also to feel great about your capabilities. I’ve been advocating the same in this column for the past 10 years. But what’s evident, of late, is that we are so attuned to the positivity mantra, that we are allowing ourselves to be mediocre in the process — in work, in relationships, in studies. And the moment failure hits us in any of these, we prefer announcing ‘feeling sad, empty and low’ on social media, and getting instant loves and high-fives, than actually making an effort to better ourselves. I do it, and I’m sure you do, too. Our kids will do it even more, because they are growing up on a feed of positive quotes on Instagram, comforting FB likes and artificial Snapchat filters, through which they can see themselves as ‘the best’. Till the next JEE exam comes through.
Sonal Kalra has such double standards, I tell you. She keeps saying ‘think positive’ and then writes all this. Delusional, you see. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra
COACHING FOR AN EXAM OF A COACHING FOR AN EXAM YOU MUST GO DEEPER