A sixteen year old girl was recently admitted in the Psychiatry department where I am currently posted with a serious case of depression and mental instability. On inquiring, I found out that she failed some recent exam and went spiraling down into the depths of gloom and misery. And just like this ill-fated young girl, hundreds of young men and women fall and succumb to the pressures and stress of various things in life all over India; some resorting to suicide; some to drugs.
In this article I wish to voice my opinion on one of the primary root causes leading to many psychotic and other mishaps in the lives of many individuals all over the country. The problem I speak of is not one often recognized or even interpreted as a problem by adults and society; and in fact has integrated itself so much that it is now a part of the system and life.
When a child is born to a family, the elders gather around it and there are squeals of joy and delight; but together with the fine traditional activities, come the expectations. My son, future engineer. My daughter, future doctor. From a very young tender age, a child’s mind is trained and the concept is engrained, that Life is a competition. If you are slow, you get left behind. You must excel in every field, in every aspect.
I am not against competition and the competitive spirit and all. It can be healthy and aids in the achieving of goals and success, be it in sports or academics or anything else. But the competition I speak of is one that goes deeper than a desire to win; rather involves a ‘must win’ as a requirement of life. This leading on trains individuals into robots and not human beings, for they tend to live a life of just competing in everything and end up adopting a survival of the fittest mentality, one that is predominant in the jungles of Africa too.
From examination grades and cricket scores, competition has evolved to how much more beautiful one is, how stylish they are, how a person drives, how well they write, how much more popular they are and even more to who got more sleep last night and who didn’t, who had a meal more earlier than the other and more. Basically, from the crucial aspects of life where competition gears productivity like in sports and somewhat in academics; the competitive spirit has gone a little overboard and life itself has become a competition.
Who’s to blame? Well, start with society, for integrating this culture that you have to be the best and out-class everyone else in anything that you do. It’s definitely good to be the top scorer in your football team, or the one with the highest grades; but I have seen and experienced people who stress and almost go mad, not because they don’t expect good grades, but because someone else may score more than them. They messed up one question, and the world is going to fall apart.
Secondly, the parents. Again, like I said, competition to some level is healthy, but the amount of stress and pressure parents put their children under this aspect sometimes may lead to very drastic situations. I have seen a distinction batch mate break down in tears for missing out on a distinction in one exam claiming his father would never forgive him. He got 74%, just by the way!
I think it is high time that people realize that we only live once and that life is not a race, for surely what lies at the end of this race we call life? From the Mangalore buses racing each other giving no heed to pedestrians, to people stuffing their faces competing on who can eat more; it is time for people to calm down, break the trends and system, and live your life to the best of your ability, for yourself and achieve your best in life, for as Jiddu Krishnamurti once said “Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.”
Now beat this!! :p