Call for Entries: What I Would Love to Learn in School
By Shivani Shetty, Class 9, Witty International School, Malad, Mumbai
I’m a writer, and my main job is to write. But I’m not a terrific writer, so I don’t always fulfil my job profile. In fact, if one had to describe my occupation, I would probably be the first ever professional reader, working around the clock – unpaid.
So, with this fearsome resume, I am the best person to tell you what kind of literature we’re missing.
The book we require most of all, especially people like me, who are growing up in this unpredictable world, is a Comprehensive Guide for Surviving Life. We need a step-by-step breakdown of our minds, actions, fears and apprehensions, and ways to successfully conquer them. Unfortunately, such a manual does not seem to be coming anytime soon, so we are left to turn towards our schools to teach us this.
And our schools are failing. We’re all so chaotically obsessed with our future, we seem to have forgotten that we will be living in it. Our schools are doing a fantastic job of preparing us for a living, but not a life. Throw the prospect of a few examinations at me, knead in the possibility of an entrance essay, layer it with some vindictive deadlines, and I could whip up a colour-coded schematic of how to accomplish all that.
But ask me how I would respond to irrational haters, what I would do if I was without family or friends in a foreign city, where I would go if all my attempts were rejected and nothing seemed to be going my way. You would have lost me at the second word, because I would be drowning in my anxiety, insecurities and self-doubt. My schools have taught me how to signal to lifeboats and how to hold on to buoys. But what I really need to learn, is to swim. I need to know how to use the speed of the current and how to float when my energy is giving way. I wish I could have lessons on loving myself as I am, and on identifying genuine flaws, as opposed to nit-picking.
I wish I could attend a crash course on fixing my inadequacies instead of gouging deeper holes into myself. I wish I was given textbooks that explained why it was okay for me to accept compliments people gave me and how to believe them instead of stretching modesty to denial. I wish I could be taught to appreciate the joy a kitten purring could bring me or to stand up for myself instead of believing others lies. We are all on a train taking us to where we need to go. Whether we believe we have the power to choose the destination is not the question, but rather if we have the power to choose to be happy no matter what stations we pass by. I wish my school would teach me to be okay, to survive, and more vitally, to live.