How old were you when you first left home? No, not for the sleepover party at your best friend’s house. Or even a short holiday with friends.
How old were you when you first left home and had to live away from the comforts of your home, your mom’s delicious cooking, all the amenities that you’d fondly rely on?
I was fifteen. And as you can well imagine, that was probably the first ‘scariest moment’ of my life that I can clearly remember. Some of you may have read a bit of this experience here - or the run up to the experience, rather.
Looking back on it though, it was one of the best things to have ever happened to me.
What is it about leaving home that seems to make kids these days freeze? Alright, I’m generalising rather lavishly here, but it’s merely to try to understand a point. Is it just the fact that ‘moving out of their comfort zone’ thing that worries them, or is it the parents? Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.
I read an interesting article recently (though it was dated early 2014), that almost three million adult children across the world, still stay at home. If you’re a parent, you’re probably thinking, ‘So what? We’re there for them. And that should certainly account for something.’
I agree. As parents, we will do every little thing we can to make sure our little ones (they’re always our little ones, aren’t they? Even at 30) get the best of everything we can afford and provide. And you know what? That’s perfectly alright. However, I’m increasingly coming across groups of parents who are reluctant to let go of their kids. And these kids in question, are sort of well into their 20s.
Before I go on, or one of you takes a shotgun and decides to finish this once and for all, let me reiterate this.
There is absolutely nothing wrong if you’re still staying with your parents. Well, personally, I would say you’re missing out on a few things, but in the larger scheme of things, I can see why it seems alright - you’re living with family, more often than not you do not need to pay rent, necessities such as food, and the rest are taken care of. Which is all perfect. However, there is such a thing as ‘life experience’ and while you can ‘glean’ a lot of it from the experience of your parents, in order to truly mature as a person, you really need to open your wings and fly, so as to use the famous bird-family analogy.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been playing guide and mentor to a young woman who is soon to embark on her Master’s course in the United Kingdom. Obviously as someone who has been in London for almost a decade, I gave her a bird’s-eye view of everything - from the probable differences she’d notice in the education system to the type of people she’d encounter. Now, this smart young woman has never left home. Forget going abroad, she has hardly been away from home for more than a couple of days. And I could start to sense her discomfort. In fact, I might even say if left to her, she would just not go. Oh, she wanted to do the course alright, but everything else was - for the lack of a better word - freaking her out. Well, as you’re reading this, she should be sitting in her flight ready to take off and start her new life. So I suppose it’s safe to say that I’d managed to convince her somewhat.
Truth be told, the first person that I’d ever convinced to move out of their comfort zone was - no surprises here - my wife.
My wife hails from a very conservative family. Yes, she’s probably the only loose-canon-tom-boy-can-kick-the-crap-out-of-you-if-you-mess-with-her kind of person in their entire family; but somehow she never ever nurtured the dream of experiencing something new or even go abroad for that matter. Perhaps, it’s something that I haven’t told her enough, but I know she did it for me; so that we’d be together. However, the truth is also that she perhaps benefited the most out of this little adventure.
In her own words, ‘the wealth of experience that she gained because she moved out of home and spent time away from her comfort zone, has helped her both personally and professionally.' Today, she holds a Senior Managerial position in a large, respected multinational firm and is highly sought after. Professionally, of course. Personally, they need to get through me first. *cracks knuckles *
So now it comes to the person who I hope will read this post someday - my presently three-year-old son, Rishi.
I have no idea where either of us will be when you read this post. Maybe you’re just stepping into your hormone-raging teenage years - a snapshot of which, you have rather accurately and vividly showed us, during your threenage years. Or maybe you’re already away from home, and doing what you want to do. Either way, here are a few things I’d like you to keep in mind.
- When it is time for you to move away from home - and yes, there will be such a time - do it confidently. Yes, it’s natural to have those butterflies fluttering away in your tummy and for you to feel like we sort of disowned you (not that we ever really owned you!). But think of it as a positive step. Your mother and I will always be there for you. Well, for as long as our earthly bodies and organs let us, anyway.
- A part of you will want to leave and experience everything. Another part will want to stay back with us. Take my advice and listen to the first part. Text-book education and degrees are not everything. Between your mother and me, we have almost FIVE degrees. Almost, because your mother never finished her distance MBA; Ok, that was below the belt, but that is perhaps the only thing she has never completed that she started. Having said that, basic education is important. While we will really support you in whatever you want to pursue in your life, we would rather you do it after you finish school and get some sort of basic degree. Hopefully, you will figure out way early where your interests lie and we can work towards that. However, if you’re going to take after this father of yours, tough luck! It’ll be almost the big THREE-O before you realise what you really want to do.
- If you do get a chance to go abroad to study, do it. I know what you’re probably thinking at this point. Who in their right minds would say no to that? Well, my son, here’s the thing. From experience, the education system everywhere is pretty overrated. What makes it special is the actual experience of being in a new place and starting from scratch, quite literally. You need to build up your network of friends, colleagues, and what nots. And trust me, that experience is as important in developing your personality as what you learn in your classes.[bctt tweet="It matters not, what you choose to study. What matters is making the most of every experience. "]
- If you do go abroad (study or otherwise), keep an open mind about things. Be it food, friends, work, culture, travel, book, movies, music - whatever it is, try to explore and experience things outside your comfort zones (within moral and legal boundaries, of course - I’ll be watching you!). A lot of our fellow countrymen and women may shoot me down for saying this, but we Indians have a slight issue when we go abroad for prolonged periods of time. And that is that we try to make a Little India there. Or if there exists a Little India, we stick with them. No, there is absolutely no problem in sticking to your roots. However, remember that each person has some experience you can learn from. So the more you choose to expand your horizon and mindset, the more you learn and to be honest, that is in fact what tolerance is all about. We live in an incredibly intolerant world today, and we live in the hope that your generation can set that right and respect everyone's differences.
- Last, but not least - because, there’ll always be more advice; we’re parents after all - Just be a good person with a decent enough moral compass. We can only guide you in showing you what is right and wrong. Or what we believe is right and wrong. If you’re ever in doubt, trust your instinct. Your inner voice (as long as it’s not voiced by Hannibal Lecter) is a good guiding light. Bonus points, if it sounds like me.
Lots of love,
This post is part-ramble, part-a-letter to my son, Rishi. They say the Internet never forgets. So even if I was to suddenly disappear off the face of the earth (say eaten by a Dinosaur), I’ll leave this here in the hope that he may stumble upon it one day.
Oh, and while I've got you here: Have you voted for my blog yet? If not, here's the link:
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