Amongst all conversations I’ve ever had with my father about society, politics, culture, work, my life and everything in between – a particularly recent one stood out and has been on my mind since.
My father was born in a very small village in western India and grew up with the most basic essentials required to sustain a minimum living. When you heard about how people in rural India studied without lights/paper/supplements – well, he was one of them.
He says, “I hardly had anything to fear and that was because I didn’t have much to lose.” He started his fight into the real world at an early age of 16. No work was above or beneath him. For him, it was just work. It was his passion, his battle to survive.
He eventually did. After working 18 hours a day for over 15 years, day in and day out, he was able to afford a decent house, a car, a grand wedding (both his sister’s and his own), some trips abroad and in essence a comfortable and respectable living for himself and his family.
He doesn’t live in his village in the hard conditions anymore, but he still evaluates the cost of his money at every cent. That’s how he grew up, that’s how he survived. And so, this is innate to him.
On the other hand, just one generation down, here I am. I studied in a private school, at an expensive university abroad, was provided with a car to shuttle me between tuitions, social gatherings, had an air conditioner running through the night, bought myself new pieces of clothing/accessories with no occasion in mind whatsoever and basically never truly understood what surviving means. I probably can’t count every cent for what it’s worth.
But that doesn’t mean I am not fighting. It’s just a different battle. I am struggling to find growth. And this is what keeps me awake on several nights or makes me tire myself through many days or gives me the energy and courage to live alone (it’s been over 6 years now). It’s the passion within to jump over to the next level or even higher from where I am. It’s about finding that one interest that can rule the rest of my life. To summarise again, it’s growth.
But unlike my dad, I didn’t start out at nothing. I am starting out from base: Comfort. But that’s a good thing, right?
It surely is. But while one would think this would be a smooth ride without much to worry about, it has instilled a massive amount of fear. Fear that I will fall if I try and jump too high or bending too low would be shameful. It’s a generational weight you see, which tends to limit my vision, my opportunities and even my desires at times. The comfort has now transformed into a safety net which I am too scared to break out of. The battle I fight is one within. To tear open this net, this vicious cycle and reach out to dig into myself, my interest. It’s about moving out of the societal pressures I was “fortunately” born into.
No matter the generation we belong to or where our endowment point lies or how much we’ve inherited: we all fight. Incessantly and tirelessly. That makes us human, makes us feel alive.
This perception has changed the way I look at quite a few things in my life and it has helped me look at myself and all the others who surround me in a new light. It has helped me fight my battles a bit better than yesterday. And that makes all the difference. Doesn’t it?