How strict parenting makes it harder to deal with failure
As an engineering student looking back into my past, at no point in my life did I actually want to be an engineer. Astronaut, cricketer, filmmaker, writer, tourist guide – I wanted to be all of these. But never an engineer. I did not know what an engineer did, nor was I interested to find out. I never even understood the point of academic grades or why acing an exam is important. Yet, my current version weighs my success in life based on academic grades, while living in constant anxiety and a fear of failure.
The simplest of mishaps makes me paranoid about the worst-case scenario because I have been programmed to pursue absolute success in academia. As I meet more people over the years, I realise that a large fraction of my generation has been moulded to pursue success without ever learning how to deal with failures along the way. But while preparing us for this rat race of success, our parents decided to provide us with one crucial tool.
They forgot to give us a reason to be in the race.
Halfway through the race track, we forgot to ask about it. Even if we remembered, it was too late for us to pull out from the race anyways. The singer, the poet, the writer, and the cricketer inside us were manipulated to weigh their lives based on grades.
Maybe up until school and college, many of our parents were directly involved in our academics. But as we grew up, they set us free. Yet, we can't fly because our wings are too accustomed to the cage. We cannot let go of the rules set by our parents. Anything other than academic success is not good enough since it's not satisfying to our parents or the expectations set on us. The writer in me cannot suddenly let go of the academic expectations and pursue writing as a career despite having the opportunity to make my own career choices.
With time, we grow up to be people-pleasers. The only reason for us to pursue academic success is that we don't want to let our parents down or be proven as a failure to our classmates, our teachers, or the very system that extorts us.
With time, we become good at it. We excel in our academic duties and the expectations keep on rising. But somewhere along the line, everyone stumbles. Failure, however inevitable, becomes impossible to deal with because we've merely been pushed to pursue the goal. But teaching how to cope with failures along the way wasn't part of the syllabus since failure was never an option to begin with.
There's no universal guide to dealing with failures that our parents can teach us. But dealing with failures isn't about following a few steps after the tragedy and forgetting about it. It's a continuous process of finding something more to life than a particular goal and not being dictated by wins and losses. It's about defining your own parameters rather than living in your parents' preconceived ones.
Because after a certain age, freedom will inevitably be ours. The question is whether we'd be able to accept that freedom and define our own way of life or continue to be shackled by the phantom chains that no longer exist.
Remind Ifti to be quieter at [email protected]