“Medicine, law, business, engineering- these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life but poetry, beauty, romance, love…, these are what we live for.”
– Robin Williams, The Dead Poet’s Society
As we enter 9th or 10th grade, everyone around us starts discussing streams. Our friends exchange their ideas, our parents keep enquiring and giving their suggestions, relatives have their own stories to share about stream choices.
For some of you out there, the choice is a cakewalk, but for most others, it isn’t exactly child’s play. For the assistance of the latter, who don’t have it all figured out, I have a personal experience to share.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth”
– Robert Frost
About five years ago, when I was in a massive dilemma about selecting a stream, I used to resort to these lines from my favourite poem, The Road Less Travelled. They depicted my turmoil and were descriptive of my confused state perfectly.
While I was good at and liked studying all subjects, I had always found myself looking forward to social science and literature classes more than maths and science. Literature, especially, had been very close to my heart (and still is). Regardless of my preferences, I always excelled at my classes and was all around an academically bright student.
The moment I entered class 10th, suddenly conversations around me changed from admiration and applause to debating about which stream I should opt for. All I could ever hear was “You are so smart, you should definitely take science”. I always nodded out of respect but never acknowledged their advice.
“I had always found myself looking forward to social science and literature classes more than maths and science.”
The Stigma and Expectations
Science and Mathematics were definitely interesting and intriguing, but if ever I had to make a timetable for studying, Social Science and English would always find their place on the top. There was a certain ease and comfort with these subjects when I compared them to maths and the sciences.
The diverse syllabus of social science entangled me in the threads of culture, politics, history, the geography of countries all around the world. My adoration for authors and poets brought me bliss which none could.
Despite all this, I had grown up listening to my parents talking about my elder cousins, and how the smart ones always took science. I was discomforted by the idea that my intellect would be out for people to doubt if I took humanities.
Fearing my parents’ reactions, I could never gather the courage to speak out my heart, and was constantly burdened by the guilt of letting them down.
Recommended Read: What are the Subjects Offered in the Humanities Stream in Class 11?
“I had grown up listening to my parents talking about my elder cousins, and how the smart ones always took science.”
The Influences of Society
I then decided to speak to someone else about my dilemma, my best friend.
What I heard from her was something I wouldn’t have expected in a million years. She told me that it would be a waste of my intellect if I chose humanities! That day I realised that the discrimination and stereotypes of the caste system were not just limited to my history book but also had found their way into streams selection. Science for the wisest, commerce for the average and humanities for the fools.
As the day came closer to fill up the form, I was getting anxious, so I called up my English teacher, and let out my desire for opting humanities. I had called her because I thought that of all of the others, she would understand my problem.
The reply she gave was alarming to my ears – She told me that taking humanities was her compulsion and not her choice because she wasn’t efficient in science and maths, and hence she pursued the subject. She advised me to harness my love for humanities into a hobby and pursue science so that I can “make something out of myself.”
Hearing this from a person I really looked up to really broke my heart. For the first time, I felt compelled to think about and question my choices.
Recommended Read: The Dawn of Humanities: Has Social Sciences Finally Got The Top Spot?
“She advised me to harness my love for humanities into a hobby and pursue science so that I can “make something out of myself.”
A series of thoughts ran through my head, about how my future could be hopeless, how my friends would look down on me, and how my choice would doom over my parent’s dreams.
But one thing struck me, “everyone is telling me that there aren’t many career options with humanities, so why don’t I check it for myself?”
So I went on to the Internet. I was amazed to see a plethora of career options, from being writing to media, law, public relations, international relations, civil services, psychology, design, etc. I spent 4 whole days just reading up on all the options I could choose from! It now struck me why people despise humanities – it’s because there is no awareness of how much it has to offer.
While doing my research, I found out about two of my seniors who had opted for science in class 12th, but went on to pursue courses in humanities for their undergrad.
One of them was placed at a leading advertising agency and couldn’t be happier with her career choice. When I spoke to her, she told me that she too had been swayed by the opinions of others, but ultimately found her path. She told me how things fall into place if you are passionate enough about what you are doing, and especially in a field as flourishing as humanities, I really have nothing to worry about.
Recommended Read: No Scope, No More: 14 Exciting Career Options for Humanities Students
“It now struck me why people despise humanities – it’s because there is no awareness of how much it has to offer.”
My research, coupled with her encouraging words gave me the confidence I needed to speak to my parents.
When I told them what I wanted, they were very upset and told me point blank that I am making the wrong choice, and everything else they could to deter me from my decision.
But I had already made up my mind. I went ahead and opted for Humanities with Psychology.
Recommended Read: World of Humanities: 6 Upcoming Careers You Need to Know About
“Things fall into place if you are passionate enough about what you are doing.”
The Present Day
It took everyone time to believe and adjust to my decision, but after all this time, when they see me writing blogs or speaking in college about issues like mental health or debating about women security, all they are filled with is pride.
Following my choices, my siblings also gained the courage to speak for themselves and choose what they like. Finally, I destigmatized humanities in my household and that was the small change I started with.
Today I might not be the engineer or pilot my parents dreamt of, but I am definitely an aspiring Industrial Psychologist working her way to her ambitions. My parents sometimes fret about the pay scale, job security, nature of work, but I am clear about making a career in human resources and further studying industrial psychology. Also, with time, I plan to start writing professionally.
The experience of standing up is difficult, but once it’s done, it’s all about the glory that follows through. I hope some of you young readers can draw inspiration from my story and become fearless about what you want. Figure out what you like, what amuses you, tread slowly and discover new heights!
“Finally, I destigmatized humanities in my household and that was the small change I started with.”
Did you find this article helpful in choosing your own stream? Share with us in the comments below!