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Feeling scared to pursue an offbeat career that you’re passionate about because your family may not approve of it? Don’t worry, it’s not just you! As the rat race for survival in today’s economically turbulent times gets tougher, a substantial number of people are caving in to parental and peer pressure to follow the beaten track and take up jobs that they are not primarily interested in.
All that glitters is gold
While for some it is the lure of a lucrative job that is too good to resist, many take up these jobs due to lack of options. “In the Indian context, stereotypes and gender roles also play a critical role in such career choices,” says Prapti Iyengar, a counsellor. “The male is supposed to be a stable earning member in a family and he usually looks at established options that provide a secure job and good pay such as being an engineer or a doctor. In many cases, if the person doesn’t have adequate family support, it becomes extremely difficult to break the stereotypes and pursue professions or interests which are not mainstream. Another common problem is that people may not know how to enter the profession of their choice due to lack of vocational guidance or sufficient exposure to test their abilities and gauge their chances of success. Hence, they ultimately land up compromising on their passion.” Unsurprisingly, a lot of people who have compromised their passions in choosing such careers have ended up feeling frustrated in the long run.
However, nowadays an increasing number of people, especially the youth, are taking up careers which allow them to balance their passion with work. Be it by doing part-time work on weekends in their fields of interest or by finding time to pursue their passion after office hours, leading a more holistic life suddenly seems to have become the new mantra. Says Aishwarya Harish, a freelance market researcher and a trained Bharatanrityam dancer, “I have always believed that everyone has a capacity to balance various aspects of their lives if they so desire. When I took up my job, I wanted to explore my interests in different fields. But it gradually became difficult to balance my passion for dance with my work. Hence, I decided to freelance for the organisation instead of working full-time.”
The industry, too, seems to have woken up to the fact that people need their space to pursue their passions. This view is echoed by Aishwarya as well. “Today, bosses are very supportive of your other interests. Teams are willing to adjust. Colleagues support and encourage each other to explore their creative streaks all the time. And while you still need to meet your deadlines and finish your work satisfactorily, many organisations give you the flexibility to manage your time so that you can pursue your passions. Ultimately, it is up to you to manage your time well. This, in turn requires a good deal of discipline and an organised approach.”
Living your passion
Today, the career landscape has also undergone a sea change and offbeat careers have gained a much wider acceptance in the society. In fact, many such innovative careers have turned out to be huge successes. Consequently, the youth are no longer averse to exploring their interests as realistic, full-time career paths. Be it as an entrepreneur or in a job, this trend is catching on in a big way, especially among Gen-Next.
“Several opportunities exist – it’s all about making the choices,” says famous stand-up comedian and CEO of Entertainment Engineers, Nitin Gupta. “Follow your heart in terms of what you want to do and how you want those things done. I stumbled into stand-up comedy by chance and liked it. Hence, I decided to give it a shot. The advent of comedy shows on television created a much needed market for stand-up comedy by the time I graduated. Today, the market is growing and many more people are taking to English stand-up comedy. Personally, I’m really enjoying what I do as it gives me the liberty to do what I want.” Ask him whether people should take the plunge to follow their passion and Nitin advises caution. “We tend to use the word ‘passion’ very loosely. Many people mistake their interest as passion, which can be very dangerous while making such career choices. If you really want to follow your passion, you need to put in that extra bit of hard work and dedication. Also, make sure that you get your priorities absolutely correct before making such choices,” he concludes.
Author: Tejas Suma Shyam