I wrote this one for a speech at toastmasters ... like it a lot coz it reflects the state of mind of most of us MBAs passing out .... read on ...
A year back when I walked into this place, these were the words I kept hoping I’d get to say to myself two years down the line. Today, I look around with a hint of disappointment… at how I betrayed myself and how this place has betrayed me and everyone else. I guess we all came in here hoping to find our unique purpose in life – unique as we all are. Once in I don’t think most of us have managed to resist the charm of being one among the crowd. Of being accepted universally. Isn’t it amazing how all of a sudden all our dreams, all our aspirations seem the same – different as we all claim to be? And what is more amazing is how predictable a life we’re all set to lead – busy, cash rich, with no time to spare for anything but work – look around .. And you’ll see a bunch of wannabe corporates – all individuals who in the race to be different – have funnily ended up looking all alike! And standing here in the next 5 minutes I wish to talk about what I call “ A Different way of Life” – something we all have envisaged at some point of time – but something only a few will have the courage to follow through!
I visited a very different person yesterday. Let’s call him professor X. Someone who teaches students like us and is completely disillusioned by what he sees. So disillusioned, in fact that he’s decided never to teach them again. I think I’m supposed to be on the other side – with my kind – the students. But strangely enough I found myself strongly agreeing to everything he said. About what we’ve turned into.
And I’m going to tell you exactly what that is. We’ve turned into disinterested youngsters who treat the classroom as though it were their personal quarters. We treat the professors as though we’re doing them a favor by listening to them. We treat attendance as the be all and end all of existence. Lectures hold as much meaning for us as an advertisement that we zap through disinterestedly. Better still; lectures are where we catch up on our sleep – the busy all important souls that we are, its impossible to catch sleep back in our rooms. And of course the great communicators that we all are, we never miss a chance to have a hearty laugh at the odd professor who can’t communicate to save his life – notwithstanding the fact that saving his life is not really the point of the lecture. The point is to educate a bunch of uninterested “students”!
What is really sad is that not all of us were like this when we walked in here. But to be accepted as one of the crowd it is important to blend in – to do what the majority does. And that is what i mean by us having lost our individuality. The few of us who do want to stand by what we believe in end up being ridiculed by the rest. After all being conscientious is so uncool! And staying awake in class – you have got to be kidding! What kind of loser are you if you stay up through class – and god help you if your reason happens to be sheer respect for the elderly individual who is teaching you!
Let me not limit myself to the classroom. Outside of it, look at the job scene. What? Landing a pseud well paying job isn’t your dream? Then what on earth are you doing here? Here a bullet point there a bullet point … everywhere a bullet point … sounds like a poem … the finance guys all want the investment banking job. The marketing souls are all fmcg freaks. Every SOP reads “my ambition in life is to contribute to a better world by way of my unique skill sets and talents!” what an oxymoron our resumes have turned into!
So what would a different way of life be like? Well to me it would be one where I could live without having to be careful of what I say. Where I didn’t have to tread carefully because judgement was always around the corner. Where I could say I wish to work with an NGO and not have to be laughed at. Where I could dream of a non competitive work environment without sniggers behind my back saying what a wimp!!! She can’t even take challenges.
A different way of life would be one where we would all be secure in our identities and not give a hoot about what others would think. Where we could participate in activities without having to worry about whether they make for good bullet points or not! Where we could pursue our dreams no matter how weird they sounded to the rest of our batch mates. Where living in a place like this would actually be a great learning experience as the outside world sees it! Not a foolish endeavor at getting grades and bullet points. Where a good job would be the best job for you … not the best job as everyone sees it!
And all it would take to make this blissful dream become reality would be that rare thing that we see around here and call courage… to stand for beliefs and against the tide. The day that happens I’m sure Prof X will be happy to come back to a class that’s there for the education – not for the signature!