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You Don’t Need Anyone’s ‘Permission’ To Follow Your Dream!

You do not have to be perfect. There’s no perfect daughter, perfect employee, perfect wife, or perfect mother. These are just labels created by society, for their convenience.

Dear Preethi,

So here you are, just out of engineering college, having no clue why you pursued Electronics Engineering. Yes, I know, like many others your age, you too were persuaded by your parents to opt for engineering because it supposedly gets you a lucrative job.

Believe me, however strange this might sound, you’ll soon come to realize that a high paying job need not always make you happy. And there are a myriad courses and career options out there, you should definitely consider something that’ll make you look forward to go to work every day.

Weren’t you always keen on choosing literature for graduation? Well, it isn’t too late, you could still go for further studies in Arts, the way you dreamt of. I would rather you do that – don’t overthink, just go for it.

I understand your concern though, would your parents agree? Do understand, they are your parents, not your foes. For the past two decades, you have agreed to every single thing they said, and they know it. As an adult, why don’t you sit down and explain to them, that you wish to change your line a little bit? I’m sure they’ll come around, give it a try. You always wished to be a teacher, tell them that your happiness lies in that profession.

The question of a ‘suitable’ career to bag a ‘good’ husband…

Yeah, your mother believes that an engineering degree and a software job will fetch you the ‘prize’ you are eventually meant to bag, a ‘good’ husband. A handsome man, who earns extremely well, owns a huge house and preferably resides abroad. And if I’m not wrong, you have been fed with that sentiment for quite some time now.

Like when, long before you even entered college, when your aunts casually advised your mother to marry you off asap. Why? Because they believed you’re “short, stout, dark”, in fact, everything a girl your age shouldn’t be. And that, the arranged marriage market is “a little tough on girls like you”.

You wept into your pillow all night, your mother grasped their words to the T and many a times, albeit unknowingly, echoed her worries about your physical attributes. Don’t take it to heart at all, you’ll soon realize that for a successful career, none of this really matters. Stay fit, healthy, happy and that’s all you need. You earn money and respect for the work you do. In a mature, professional environment, who gives a pence about how you look?

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You don’t need anyone’s ‘permission’ to follow your dreams

I’m not advising you against marriage, all I say is, there’s no hurry. Complete your education, find yourself a job, see what it is to be financially independent, to stand on your own two feet. Enjoy your singlehood; that’s important as well.

Love or arranged, wait till you come across the right person. And when both of you could look beyond physical appearances, societal restrictions and find each other compatible, get hitched.

You do not have to seek anyone’s ‘permission’ to follow your career, nor do you have to give it up post childbirth. Of course, situations matter, but speaking in the general sense, children grow up eventually, they grow out of your nest. If you end up sacrificing everything, your job, your health, your passion, all for motherhood, neither will you be happy, nor will you keep them happy.

When you begin earning, make sure you are financially independent

Whatever be the case, try to maintain your financial independence. Because you don’t know what life has in store for you.

And don’t just depend upon someone else to take care of your finances, take keen interest in your investments. Be an equal partner in any big monetary decision that your family takes, like buying property, vehicle, gold or mutual funds.

Try to strike a balance between family and work, but in case you falter, don’t panic. You do not have to be perfect. There’s no perfect daughter, perfect employee, perfect wife, or perfect mother. These are just labels created by society, for their convenience. Do your best, and when you can’t, relax. It’s alright to pause.

Do not expect your husband or your children to make you happy, look for a life beyond family as well. Spend time with colleagues, go for walks, take up a hobby, keep busy.

Remember, YOU are important, take care of yourself, your physical and mental well-being. Never, ever, suffer in silence. Shout, reach out, seek help when needed, there’s no shame.

And I did get my dream of being a teacher!

So, today I am a professor in an Engineering College in Mumbai. You see, I did stick to my passion and turned out to be a teacher. And trust me, maybe lesser paid, but I enjoy being at work everyday.

I have been blessed with a loving and supportive husband; my height, weight or complexion have hardly played any part in our marriage. But yes, I was married soon after graduation and at times I feel I could have remained engaged for some more time without tying the knot, so I could enjoy being single a bit more. I always kept my job, I haven’t been around my son 24/7.

No regrets, as my son has grown up to be a kind and well behaved young man. Infact, he’s very independent and I too feel safe in my financial security and social life. A happy me perhaps keeps my family happy I guess.

This August, we have working women writing a deeply personal letter to their younger selves – from the time they were teenagers or college students or young adults just stepping out into a career, and later too when they came up against problems – telling them that they should embrace their #freedomtodream and how this will take them on their journey to get to where they now find themselves.

If you are a working woman and want to write a similar letter to your younger self, log in to your author dashboard or register here as an author, and upload your piece with #FreedomToDream or #FreedomToBeMe in the title. We’d love to hear from you.

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