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The Curse of Expectations

“My Child, you have full freedom to choose whatever field you want in your life..

Words every Pakistani youth can relate to, but with a subtle twist.

“…. Tu ab batao, mera bacha doctor banay ga ya engineer?”

I can understand that it’s in the nature of parents to protect their beloved children and guide them towards a better future. After all, they want what’s best for us. Plus, they want to see us achieve things in life that they never could. Parents have an inherent fear planted in their brains that their children shouldn’t repeat the mistakes that they did, a fear that is clearly elevated in the minds of our Pakistani parents. Typically, this fear is born from the prevailing mindset in our society which, like most other societies, gauges the worth of an individual on basis of their degrees, diplomas and financial muscle. Basically anyone who’s not a doctor or an engineer is a worthless reject with absolutely no future at all in life. This hostility leads them to push their children to the fullest and shove them indefinitely into the engineering or medical hole. And so, from our very births we’re cursed by the burden of expectations.

This curse is truly a unique one, in the sense that it transfers from one generation to the next, and so on and so forth thus, resulting in an endless cycle. A curse that places the burden of the failures and wants of the parents on to the frail shoulders of their children. This breeds an air of hostility and poisons their relationship as the children feel that the parents demand too much of them. It starts to feel like parents are constantly disappointed unless their child excels academically. It creates an unnecessary strain in their relationship which drives them further apart over time. This curse perverts and molds the psyche of children and they start to believe that what their parents have deemed for them is in fact the best for them. But the question looms large, is it?

From a certain and a more common point of view, it is merely because of the financial gains and security it warrants, and the apparent respect it earns an individual. But is that all in life that we’re meant to do? Are we all just supposed to earn money and respect, sacrificing our true needs and happiness for a secure future? They seem to think so… Well i don’t.

As cliché as it might sound and as much as these words have lost their meaning, I believe that if we truly love what we’re doing, success will be an extra bonus to the personal satisfaction and sense of fulfillment that you achieve. If we truly love what we do then, we put our whole hearts into reaching its heights and when we do, we’ll reach new heights and discover things we didn’t even know previously existed. Success will be drawn to us like a moth is drawn to a flame.

We might not end up as the most prosperous financially or maybe, we might not get rishtas in good families and society won’t see us with as much izzat (respect) but at least, we’ll get to live our life as we deem fit. Well, I know I’d take the latter in a heartbeat. This certainly does not mean that the road will be easy and we won’t have doubts over it. There will be nights where we will lay awake, feeling uncertain against the odds, a slight feeling of regret creeping in, saying to us that, “What if….?” But i assure you there will be many more nights where we’ll sleep sound content of the path we chose for ourselves. A perfect example of this is the recent Oscar winner and world-renowned actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. He dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of acting and since he was committed to it. He poured his heart and soul into it, he reached that stage at which he excels now.

In a more local and relatable, but in no way a less inspiring example, we have Roshaan Bukhari, the secretary of the Lahore Astronomical Society(LAST) and the coordinator in Pakistan for the Planetary society (world’s largest space interest non-profit organization). He dropped out of his 4th year in medical college to pursue his dream of being a renowned astronomer and he has already garnished widespread praise and support for his impeccably bold decision. Keeping these in mind, we can’t help but think that it’s just as Paulo Coelho says in his enchanting novel, “The Alchemist”, that:
“If you truly want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

Forcing or manipulating your children into choosing a specific field might get them a secure future but at what cost? That’s a decision that should be left to our children rather than ourselves because if we really love them that much, we need to trust them to make their own decisions and let them learn their own lessons because time, after all, is the best teacher.

No matter how hard we might try, we can’t save them from the inevitable ups and downs in life but we can groom them to be strong and independent enough to choose their own path. As scary as it might seem, letting go of the fear to bind them is the first step towards doing that and freeing them from the undoubtedly horrid ”Curse of Expectations” thus, helping them truly live their lives.

  • Very nicely written article, Hassaan. Thoughtful and coherent. Two minor corrections please. LAST is short for ‘Lahore Astronomical Society’, so writing ‘LAST astronomy society’ is not recommended, rather, Lahore Astronomical Society (LAST) is preferred. Secondly, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest space interest non-profit organization. I will be thankful to you for editing these corrections in place. Thank you for the article and I must say I am looking forward to your next one. They really make for a good read!

  • Naiha Bilal

    Man, you always come up with something inspiring. Lol, I wonder you’ll not quit medical in the 4th year like the astronomist?

  • M Bilal Sohail

    Story of newrly every student…

  • Salman Ranjha

    Well written about the worst problem students in our region of the world suffer from