We get so wrapped up in our daily lives and chores that we often don’t make time to do the things that make us happy. Or worse, we are told that what we love doing is pointless or lame.
When I was young I told my uncle that I liked drawing and making things to which he replied that art was nonsense and it was better to want to be a doctor or a lawyer. It was disheartening at the time but I never let it faze me to the point of never doing anything arty again.
I loved writing short stories, baking, making birthday cards. Even if I was a bit rubbish at it, I kept going because it gave me joy, a hobby.
It makes me sad when I see my young cousins glued to iPhones or computer games (I’m not anti-digital) as I wonder what will they do when they’re older and need an escape?
This summer my parents and I went to Bangladesh to visit relatives. I met with one of my cousins who is a published Bengali author and poet. I mentioned to her that I also liked writing and she told me that writing is in our blood and I should always write about what makes me happy.
Too often I write about things that are unfair in the world or something that I’m annoyed about.
Regardless, I find that simply sharing my thoughts and feelings makes me feel good. It makes me feel understood as whoever reads my writing knows where I stand, especially since they would never find out in person considering that I am very shy and a bit awkward.
I feel like there are so many expectations of young people that it can be overwhelming. Schools and families (particularly from Asian backgrounds, though some not all!) like to encourage more academic subjects such as sciences and maths and value those grades more than others.
I was never the kid to excel in those subjects. I never really excelled in anything but I enjoyed anything creative.
When I chose the subjects that I wanted to do for A-levels, I received a call from my school’s career adviser. She criticized my choices, saying that they were “too creative” and “wouldn’t give me lots of options.”
It was a slap in my face as she never asked me what I enjoyed doing or what I was even good at.
There’s this gross idea that if you’re not doing what everyone else is doing then you will be overlooked and your achievements undervalued.
After doing my A-levels, I came to the realisation that I just had to do what I wanted and not give a single damn about what people thought of it.
In the end I chose to do a degree in marketing.
The same uncle who told me that art was pointless would always ask me what I was studying because he could never remember; perhaps it wasn’t worth remembering to him. Meanwhile, I have a cousin studying medicine and it’s a running joke that I studied the wrong ‘M’ (marketing not medicine!)
It’s my life and my happiness. Not something for anyone to judge me on or brag about if I have achievements.
How many times have I had to hear that someone couldn’t pursue something they really enjoyed because their parents pressured them into something else?
Surely, we will fail and things will go wrong. But it would be an insult to any achiever if we think that success is easy. We always worry that we’re not good enough but how will we ever become good if we don’t continue?
I was never the best writer, illustrator, or baker, and maybe I’m still not. But if I give up then there is nothing to improve on. In the meantime, these little hobbies are the coping mechanisms for my thoughts and stress and the bores of life.
It doesn’t matter if no one understands what I do just as long as I am content doing it. As cliché as it sounds, we really do only get one life. It’s far too precious to spend it the way others expect you to.
Just be happy.