What do you think of this tweet?
Gave a talk at a women’s college in DU recently was shocked to hear girls only wanted a good marriage. Why waste a seat in univ then?
It’s a provocative thing to say alright, and it’s definitely annoyed a lot of people (look at this spirited takedown by Monika, for instance)
This post is not about whether non career-oriented people “deserve” a seat in college or not. As long as someone gained admission through fair channels, and as long as there was no manipulation in the process, I don’t think there’s any question of ‘wasting’ the seat. Since when did students’ career plans (or lack thereof) become part of the admission criteria at DU?
This is about the “shock” (at hearing that girls just wanted a good marriage). I do not blame the tweet’s author for that. At all.
When I first got into IIT-D (to the general shock of everyone who knew me) I automatically assumed that EVERYONE there would be ridiculously career-oriented. Frankly, getting into one of these colleges, with your chosen field of study, is no joke. It takes a LOT of effort to beat a sub-two percent acceptance rate and in general, you have to be pretty academically focused in your High School years to make the cut (what you do AFTER you get in is, of course, a different story :D). I automatically assumed that anyone who was academically focused would probably also be very career-oriented. It’s a reasonable assumption to make, but in the case of Indian women, it does not seem to ring true.
When a classmate said something like what was mentioned in the tweet, I could not hold back. I’ve written the following “letter”, the contents of which more or less match what I actually said to her in person, and if it’s not as fluid as I would have liked, it’s because I’ve tried to approximate my original phrases.
I’ve met so many bright, intelligent women like you who describe their future plans as follows:
Oh, well, I have to improve my CPI a bit so I get a good placement. Maybe I’ll work for a couple of years. And then, I’ll settle down.
This is such a shame, R.
Since you are a proud IITian today, there can be no doubts about your caliber or ability to work hard. But are you going to actually use that brilliance for your own good?
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to become a homemaker. If you can afford it, it’s your privilege to do so.
But if your entire AIM in life is to marry a rich guy and live out your White Picket Fence fantasy, I think you are being more than a little foolish.
Remember, There are no free lunches in life.
That holds true regardless of whether a person is male or female, employed or unemployed, in a relationship or single, attractive or ugly. No matter how much support you have from people around you, at the end of the day, you are going to be on your own. YOU are the one who has to live your life, and you are your own staunchest, most unswervingly loyal ally. No one is going to give you some kind of royal, luxurious lifestyle without demanding repayment in some form or the other. No one is as concerned about your happiness as you.
And therefore, you must be PROACTIVE about your own happiness! You must take responsibility for running your own life. You must do justice to your own self.
What you must NOT do is to hand over the reins of your existence to someone else. To become a slave to someone else’s whims and fancies. To give up your independence. It is ALWAYS a bad idea to give up your independence to someone else. Always. No matter who that ‘someone’ is or how close you are to them. This is life. Shit happens. And if everything blows up in your face, you don’t want to be caught napping.
Even if you aren’t into the career-building thing, work if you can.
Spend some of it.
Feel the rush.
Feel the surge of confidence.
Feel the control.
Savor it in your mind.
But don’t spend it all at once! Have a plan. Save some for a rainy day, and use it to build your own resources. NOT your family’s resources. YOUR resources. As an individual.
Have expectations from life! Don’t just be pushed along like flotsam, wherever fate takes you. Being a woman does not mean that you must bow to any and every situation you face. If things go wrong, FIGHT! Use the resources you’ve built over the years. If you can’t fight, withdraw! Use your resources to do that. But don’t just sit around at take it all with a whimper and a fake smile. You deserve better than that, from yourself.
Be strong. Be resilient. Be confident, and be independent. That’s what I ask of you as a friend.
I realize that you may resent all of this “free advice”, but I cannot, in good faith, keep it from you. Taking it or leaving it is entirely your prerogative.
Your Loyal Friend.N.A