Ever since I was a child elders would ask me what I wanted to be. Honestly, I have little memory of the answers I used to make up to avoid further probing or sometimes just to fantasized myself as someone accomplished. I should be grateful that my parents posed this fine balance of academic and co-curricular engagements in my life. My father, who was a government officer had his own (often practical) vision of my success while my mother who has always been an adventure seeker encouraged me to explore things.
As a single child I got too much attention from my parents, my mother would tirelessly spend time and energy on me and make me learn the nuances of different arts by the experts. As a result I ended up in music, dance and sports training after schools. Vacations were no different, I was learning clay modelling and calligraphy and to play table tennis simultaneously.
I admit that I was an obedient child and put my heart and soul in whatever I was offered. Hence I excelled in many of the tasks I headed out to do. But what was that one thing I really wanted to do in life?
As time passed some things stayed with me and others withered out like dry leaves in autumn. One instance would be that of my music vocal classes. I have always been a great bathroom singer or so i thought, but somewhere this did not resonate when I was learning and I gradually dropped out of the class.
So did music get eliminated from my life?
My affair with dancing would continue longer. I trained in the classical dance, Kathak for 6 long years. I had to quit practice because the monstrous 10th board exams loomed like dementors outside my window. I would later continue to dance by choreographing my own steps (with a little help from youtube) in college.
But did I want to pursue my passion for dance as a professional?
I have a genetic gift of an athletic body which comes from my mother. I seemed to be good at athletics throughout my school. I in fact won laurels at the state level too. And not just athletics I had a fair stint at playing team sports like basketball and volleyball. But when the bar was risen and I had to compete at a larger platform I failed miserably. I knew something was missing.
So I decided to shelve my dreams for becoming a world athlete for the time being.
Being a child of the indian middle class there is no escaping from getting good grades as supposedly that is what ‘will help you in future’. I did my share of slogging and did fairly well in the 10th board exams. Now in india, your 10th board exams happen to be natural deciding criteria for where you belong (somewhat like the divergent series). So the 80 % marks and above took science followed by commerce and arts.
So commerce and art was eliminated from my life by virtue of a good score. Did I know I belonged somewhere else? This time I did not even have the time or chance to try them out. I wouldn’t know.
In between all this growing up were the activities that involved creation-Clay modelling, paper craft, painting were my happy place when I used to be bogged down the pressures of being a grown up.
By the time I reached my 12th board exams I knew my passion lies somewhere else. Things that you like should not necessarily be an everyday struggle. I voiced my opinions to my parents but by that time, the scope of elimination seemed slimmer. The only viable option was to give engineering entrances to secure my future. I guess, as a child your parents can afford to let you explore more, but as you grow up, the risk averse nature of our middle class families offers little to explore (even though it happens unwillingly or unintentionally).
Like the obedient that child I always was, I had put in my best effort in this as well.
Days months and years passed with me trying to make sense of what i was being taught. I was the do-er I didn’t make any sense of things that didn’t involve interactivity.
Then in my 2nd year of BTech, I happened to visit IIT Bombay for their annual fest and there I saw their student exhibition at the design department. Instantly I realized that this is so close to the many things that have made me happy in the past. And so began my quest for figuring out how to I enter this rather intriguing field called ‘Design’. In fact, when I look back, it were the extra curricular activities involving design captivated me more than my traditional engineering classes.
The preparation to get into the design community was focussed and rather fun. But just figuring ‘design’ overall was not enough as there were many fields in design which I had no idea about. I realized it was as big as engineering with so many things to choose from.
I began my elimination process once again. I didn’t know much about cars so automobile design was out. I did paint and sketch but then I was an engineer about to compete with graphic designers and artists who would have a greater experience in terms of skill set. Perhaps I naturally inclined to other fields within design i.e. product design and interaction design. I seemed to be a better fit for either of the two and I filled enrollment forms for these streams. Fortunately or unfortunately I got calls from two colleges, both in the field of interaction design. So, was this another elimination in the making?
Thus began my journey to unravel the depths of the field of User Experience which involved both my left and right brain equally. Suddenly everything started to make sense.
The elimination to finding my passion in life has been successful so far. At times, I eliminated things from life. And sometimes life started eliminating them for my own good. But there are experiences that have taught me new things growing out of my current profession. Maybe something will be eliminated, partially if not completely to accommodate something bigger. Fingers crossed!