M Murshed Haider*
When I was a student of class seven or eight, in my secondary school in Bangladesh, my aim in life was exactly the same to my other classmates because we used to memorize the same essay from the same text book! Once I moved into class nine, I had to choose either ‘science’ or ‘arts’ or ‘commerce’ as an area of special focus. Studying ‘science’ was kind of prestigious issue during then. Most of the guys who used to study either ‘commerce’ or ‘arts’ were presumed bad students because they failed to get the opportunity to study ‘science’. My father was so upset when my elder brother didn’t get opportunity to study science and was compelled to study ‘commerce’ instead. I always loved math but I had passion for Bengali literature too. However, being a ‘so called good student’, the discipline of ‘arts’ was not an option for me. I was so happy (!) to make my parents proud. I don’t know about others but now, after more than twenty years, when I look back, I feel like I didn’t study for myself, I did study only to satisfy my parents and to get appreciation from others. I studied because I had to. It was probably 20% fun and 80% compulsion.
Once I completed my secondary school certificate exam, it was time to get admitted into a good college (equals to high school of the west) to make my parents proud for once more. I wanted to take ‘statistics’ as my option subject as I loved math and thought it would also help me adding some extra marks but I was forced to take ‘biology’ instead as it would allow me to sit for medical exam once I am done with my higher secondary certificate exam. My mom wanted me to be a doctor while my dad wanted me to be an engineer! And guess what? I was forced to get admitted into two private coaching centers simultaneously. The schedule was hectic –three days for engineering and three days for medical. Oh! Those days! I was just a stupid young kid who didn’t know what he wants to be. I didn’t know what my aim in life was. Till then, my only aim in life was to satisfy my parents. I couldn’t take it anymore. My mind revolted. I desperately needed some breathing space.
I was a mad sports lover, so were my other coaching mates. So, instead of concentrating on study, we rather put our full concentration on playing cricket. We formed a strong cricket team from the guys within our batch and started playing friendly matches against other batches as well as other coaching centers. Result was inevitable. We got great success in sports but not in the exams! For the first time I let my parents down. They couldn’t believe that I did neither qualify for BUET, Bangladesh’s top university of engineering students nor for medical studies. Unlike now, in Bangladesh there were no private universities since public universities were the only institutes which used to cater services for higher education studies. Therefore, the competition was fierce to enter in public universities where choices were limited. MY parents thought my life was ruined. So did I!
My family members merely talked to me. I felt alone. I did qualify for other good universities including university of Dhaka but my parents’ faces were still gloomy like dark could. I wanted to study ‘Applied Physics’ but my dad thought this discipline had no potential for availing a good career. He rather wanted me to study ‘Economics’. However, just before the day when I needed to choose my subject, my father decided that I should study ‘BBA’ (Bachelor of Business Administration). BBA was just newly introduced in University of Dhaka and he decided that I should enroll for the t ‘Accounting’ major under BBA. This is how my fate was decided!
However, after so many years, my realization is that when you study something that you would never choose, you would easily end up not excelling as much as you could. In addition, our education system demands us memorizing everything up to a certain age rather than letting our mind be creative. We depend on our parents to choose our fate and future. Our thinking process doesn’t get matured enough to make decision regarding what should be our aim in life. And then, our aim in life becomes our pain in life because we study something that we did not want to. We try to adjust ourselves with the situation that we are in to and ultimately it costs us a lot.
For myself, I was lucky that I could change my track gradually. I never liked the subject accounting and never wanted to take that as my profession. I know many of my friends who did study subjects that they never liked and still trying to adjust themselves with the professions they are in. Now, the question is: whose fault is this? Should we change our education system? Or, should our parents allow us to fulfill our dreams instead of theirs? Or, should we be smarter at the younger age and find out our passion and stick to it? Or, should we change the perception of our society? Or, should it be the combination of everything? Whatever the answer is, we should not allow this process to continue. This way we end up being mediocre while not being flourished to our fullest potential In other words, we end upbeing ‘good’ whereas we could’ve ‘great’ in our profession!
However, we can’t turn back the clock now. Therefore, let us, at least promise to ourselves that we would let our next generation to fulfill their dreams and flourish to their full potential by not imposing our demand and our idea on them. Let us not terrorize our children with the fear of ‘what my parents would’ve thought if I don’t study this discipline.’ Let us all believe from the core of our heart about what Tagore said:
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free…
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
* M Murshed Haider is a Member of the Editorial Board, Alochonaa.com; He is the Co-Founder and CEO of OptiMA HR Solutions and a Motivational Speaker and a Corporate Coach. Mr. Haider is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Management