I grew up thinking I wanted to be a doctor.

I remember having a full on doctor’s kit with plastic tools by the time I was three. I remember having a full light microscope, complete with slides and cover slips, litmus paper, and test tubes by the time I was nine. By the time I was fourteen, I was volunteering in various hospitals across my city. And when I turned eighteen, and went off to college, the question began…”So what kind of doctor do you want to be?”

You could say my parents left no stone un-turned in getting me interested in science and medicine. And I’m thankful that they went to such great extents (financially and physically) to push me to do my best, especially in a field that was unfamiliar to them. But it’s become that my career options are limited to “what type of doctor” I want to be, and I’ve become tired of hiding the fact that my goals don’t lie in wearing a white coat.

Coming from a South Asian household, I think I’d be correct in saying most of us are geared towards higher paying, science and technology based, “stable” jobs. Which is totally alright. I know plenty of people that genuinely appreciate and love these careers, but I’ve grown up to realize that these careers aren’t necessarily for everyone. Including myself.

We all speak different languages. I don’t mean the languages you may be thinking, like English, Hindi, etc. I mean languages such as notes of music, of written words, of key strokes of a computer. Everyone has their own language that they speak. But the problem often is that not everyone understands each other’s languages. And that leads to the problem of comparison in South Asian society.

From my experience and observation, one of the worst heartbreaks for a child is doing their level best and a parent or anyone else coming back with the response of “your friends or so and so’s child did, how come you didn’t get to THEIR level?” Parents have every right to push their children and want to see them achieve their best. But if a child comes to a parent, with absolute happiness in their eyes to show them how far they got, and they crush that happiness by comparing them to another individual…I feel like the child has basically been told that their efforts meant nothing. This, in my opinion, is the worst blow to a child’s self-esteem, and even their desire to do better.

I also think this applies to situations between even friends, or significant others, etc. Not everyone is built the same, and not everyone has the same strengths and weaknesses.

It’s not just the older generation that can have this mentality, even friends of the same age can make another friend feel inferior, if someone tells a friend, “oh how could you not have gotten an A on such and such assignment”, it’s important to realize what that imposes upon them. In my eyes, it shows that they are not recognizing their strengths may be different from another individual’s.

Helping the self-esteem of others, and appreciating their efforts is a very effective way of letting a person know that they are good enough and that they have accomplished something. Because most of the time, people already feel like they’re worth nothing. So if people around them make a conscious effort to help them feel good about themselves, it could make a huge difference in how they feel, act, and respond to their surroundings.

But that being said, I want to remind each and every one of you of something: your journey is unique to you. Your being a certain profession doesn’t define your identity, no matter who says what. You are you. Your possibilities are endless.

It probably still hasn’t hit you yet. How many you’ve made proud. I’m sure even when you do realize it, you’ll go on living like it was just another day. You’ve changed and you’ve grown. But even then, you’ve still remained true to you. Carry that with you forever, it’ll always be the currency that will get you the farthest. Life is a cycle of ending one journey and then beginning another. Each journey will come with its’ own ups and downs… make every one of these journeys something to inevitably grow from.

Always remember that you’re much more than you see yourself as, whether the weight of your actions throughout life, hits you or not. You’ve made a difference, visible or not. Keep being the firework you are, fiery but bright. Keep lighting up the sky, and making the stars jealous.