N is Number 1

These are the times of rat race. Everyone is running to achieve the number 1 spot in their respective fields. Cricketers, film stars, businessmen, the common man, housewives and even children are not spared from it. From kindergarten starts the mad rush to always be numero uno in studies, sports and extra curricular activities. In fact, kids start the rat race as young as infants. Baby shows are quite popular these days and children are made to pose, preen and what not to “win”. I know the world is competitive and all that. And you have got to be the best to survive here yada yada. 

But I have a different theory regarding the Number 1 , especially in the case of young children. And this came about as a result of the introspection of my own life. I was a Number 1 child in my days 😛

I always stood first in the class, participated in debates and elocutions and also played sports. I was considered an intelligent student. Or may be I even was. But that’s not the point. The same happened in college. I was the batch topper, excelled my subjects and participated in cultural as well as technical fests. In fact I was always made fun of as the “topper” girl. And like with all classes, through school and college, we had these average children who the teachers always scolded and said they would not make anything of themselves in their life. 
Now, after more than 10 years of passing school and 7 years of graduation (engineering), I work for an MNC and earn peanuts. While so many of those average kids have gone on to do their masters and doctorates and are earning quite well. Most of them are living abroad while some of the most notorious ones have joined the Indian Army.  The best example here would be of my husband. When I met him first after finishing college, I had a job offer with an IT major while he was still figuring out what he wanted to do with his life. He was appearing for exams and giving interviews, and not getting much success. And for what it’s worth, he now works for an MNC too and earns more than me. Not that I am complaining though 😉
A couple of years back, it used to puzzle me. Where did I lag behind? What did I do wrong? And slowly I saw a pattern. Most of the people who were average had minimum or no expectations from family and teachers. And so they went about school or college with being number 2 or 10 or 20. They had less or no fear of failure because, much of it, in fact, was expected of them. But people like us, the Number 1s had a reputation to uphold. We couldn’t fail. And so went on with school and college being the number 1s, but we burned ourselves out.  That burden of expectations and praise took a toll on the likes of us. It did far more bad than good to us. 
And so, I know that when my little one grows up, I will encourage her to study, participate everywhere she can but being number 1? Never. At least that’s not a point I am going to push. If it happens, good. If she can maintain it, even better. But I now know what’s best. And I couldn’t have agreed more with this dialouge from the movie Three Idiots, “bacche, kabil bano kabil. Kamyabi to saali jhak maar ke peechey aayegi”
It basically translates to this