It’s Not School Anymore

Schools are different. Classes and ages are different. Cities and finances of schools or their clientele is different. Subject streams and choices are different. Why do success trajectories have to be uniform, then?

We were conditioned to please, but the real world is more than just individuality or fitting in. Should we care about what others feel about us? Can our worth be calculated in praises, marks, or salary and designations?

Panicking before an exam was our ritual. And this anxiety trickled down from her, like her favourite colour or favourite movies and books.

I realise, all this time when I had her, I tried mirroring her. Because my parents felt she was perfect. Because I felt she was ‘sorted’.

And today, she and I are on different journeys. I have made some impulsive decisions to be where I am, and I have also thought and overthought till I gave up on an idea.

But school is still within me, and I try to clone people and their codes. Knowing they are different. Knowing we are all entangled in an exchange of needs and wants.

Why do we want ANYONE to understand what we are going through? Feelings make us vulnerable, let’s accept it.

I am seeing a wave of polarisation on mental health, where one side strongly emphasises to feel what we are feeling, express what we are going through, and be bare and honest rather bottling up.

The other side asks us to Man or Woman Up, and the wave of toxic positivity that “everything is in our head” ridicules the genuine struggles of people.

So what do we do? Armour ourselves of steel and never bend, or bundle down like a slack?

Balance, is the key, that one reaches after hours or days or even weeks of cycling.

There is no exception to balancing life too.

It takes long for one, to come to a stage where they learn to be amicable and yet love themselves, or at least spare a little kindness. It is a long journey to understand what one needs, and what the world needs out of us.

How long, and to who all, will we prove that what we do is the right thing? Who are we trying to please, after all?

And for what?

I know, in Maslow’s hierarchy, self-actualisation lies at the top. And any home is built from the bottom up. So a career, relationship or life needs to be built by eating the frog first, after all — poison came out of the Samudra Manthan before the prizes could be realised and actualised or relished.

But your journey is your own. A balance of rest and effort, pleasing and taking a firm stand for oneself, or bending and firming up does not come at a timestamp or with a specified quantity, like in a recipe. It is a matter of taste, after all, salt is always put according to taste, and often not directed in quantity each time.

This is your salt. You play to live or live to play, eat to live or live to eat, work to live or live to work, the choice is yours.

But one choice, you don’t have a choice of — is to live. Breathe, survive, thrive — but don’t stop.

Failing is not bad, but excelling need not be a sin you should be apologetic for.

Resting is not bad, but stretching when you can for what you can do is totally your call.

Originality is appreciated, but inspiration cannot be always condemned.

Hence, I realise, I need to make my rules because school may have given us books, but the knowledge is ours to apply. And I can’t peep into a paper of my partner always, because the difficulty level of my life isn’t the same.

So it may be school for some still, because life is about constant learning. For others, it is about excelling and exceeding the ordinary. For others, it is about stealing the little pleasures and then having to pay for with being caught, or a bad score, but life will be fair to all, like most of our teachers.

Fingers crossed.

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