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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Don't let the world define you - Ask our Counsellor Q&A Column

[The following column answered by me appeared in the Deccan Herald Education supplement of October 18, 2012]

Dear Madam,

I am doing my PUC. I scored 86.2 per cent in SSLC last year. I was confused about what I was going to take up in PU, and my sister suggested that I take up Science. Now I am worried about what to take up after PUC. I am having sleepless nights thinking about my future. Actually, I’m interested in many courses except engineering.

I’m interested in doing something different. The work which I do should give me happiness, it should be worth doing, and moreover I should feel proud about myself. My family supports me a lot. The problem with me is that I don’t like to sit in front of the computer for a very long time. I always dream about doing something creative. Actually I’m interested in MBBS, fashion designing, journalism, something related to agriculture,etc. Moreover, ours is a middle-class family where my parents can’t afford a large amount of money only for my studies. Also, students like me lack the information about various courses which have a very good scope.

After reading the article published in Deccan Herald on September 27, 2012, I felt like you are the one with whom I can share my problem and even ask for some solutions. So I, from the bottom of my heart, request you to give me some ideas for my future. Please advise me. I’ll be looking forward for your reply.


Dear Priya

I think your question is best answered by a career counsellor who can assess your strengths and interests and help you choose a career that you will enjoy. All I can say is that you are in the fortunate position of having many choices, in terms of interests, to choose from. And since your choices are very diverse in terms of the training you need for them, you need to narrow down your selection. 

I suggest you do an exercise for yourself. On a sheet of paper write down all your career choices. Then for each of those choices, analyse for yourself (or get the help of others in your family who seem to be very supportive of you) what your strengths are that will assist you in that line; what are your weaknesses that may hinder your progress; what are the opportunities available in that field, as you see them now; what are the costs involved in each of those options vs. what is the typical earning potential; what are among the best institutes to train for each of those options and what do you need to get admission into them; and, what do you feel is the future potential for that field. Once you do this exercise for each of the options you are considering, you may be able to narrow down your choices by realizing that either you are not a good fit, or the opportunities are not great, or that you don’t really have the special skills required to excel in that field. 

Apart from this exercise, you said that the work you do should give you happiness, it should be worthwhile, and it should make you feel proud. All these things are within your control. It is not the ‘work’ that will give you all these — it is your interpretation of how worthwhile you find the work, that will give you happiness and make you feel proud. That is not for the world to decide, but for you to decide for yourself. What worth you bring to the profession is something you must define for yourself. Don’t let the world define you. So, in continuation of the above exercise, you must also think about and write down what gives you happiness, and what about yourself makes you proud. 
How will you know that the work you do is worthwhile. What external signals will give you that information?
You said your fear about what you will do in future is preventing you from sleeping these days. What is your worst fear? Think about it. Sometimes fear is such an ambiguous amorphous thing that if we don’t define it for ourselves, it can take over your whole life. So what are you scared of? What is your worst fear, in case you make the wrong career choice, or the choice ends up not being that satisfying after all? Yes, some choices may be better than others, but every choice will eventually depend on what you make of it. And, no choice needs to be final or fatal, in the eventuality that you discover it to be wrong.

Hope this helps. Good luck

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