May 25 was the day you had been waiting for, the day when you would find out what "your future holds".
Along with 10,40,367 teenagers who appeared for the all important CBSE 12th Standard Board Exams all across India, you wondered if you would get into the college and course of your dreams, or be forced to choose from the "next, less appealing options".
You young ones have a lot more pressure today than we did growing up two decades ago.
For our parents, being a graduate and getting 50% was a big thing. In my day, one was lost without 75% and a postgrad. And today, you're facing 97% cutoffs with lakhs of students jostling for 54,000 seats in Delhi University.
You are more than a set of double digits.
Whether or not you get the college and course of your dreams will not be the dominant factor in your future success and happiness.
And that's what life is about isn't it? Being happy and fulfilled?
While I do believe one must get a college education, it's not for the reasons you might think.
It's not for the job or career or status or money you might earn in the future. No, those things don't depend on your 12th results as much as on you.
It's not about numbers on a website.
Not a numeric grading system.
Not a piece of paper you get handed after three years.
"One day you'll look back and realise that the real education you got wasn't what you learned in a
classroom but out of it."
What matters is your resilience. Your enthusiasm. Your ability to face obstacles and keep going anyway. Your creativity. Your joy for life. Your hunger for knowledge and making a difference. Your dreams and goals (which will keep changing). Your determination. Your adaptability.
Yes, a good education can help you get a head start. A leg up in a very competitive world.
But what happens after is entirely unto you.
I know successful people with broken families, unsuccessful (by society's definition) yet happy people. People who failed in school/college and started their own business, people who got a mediocre education and travelled the world to have enriching experiences. People who went to great colleges and got laid off from their jobs, people who are rich and happy (as well as many many who aren't in spite of their pedigreed background), people who went to less prestigious colleges and became industry leaders, and so on.
You know what's more significant? Love. Health. Friendship. Family. Knowledge. Application. Travel.
It all equalises down the road.
Many things will be uncertain and out of your control.
But the one thing that always will be in your control is how you respond to these events.
One day you'll look back and realise that the real education you got wasn't what you learned in a classroom but out of it.
It's what you learned on the steps of your college, it's what you learned by facing setbacks, challenges, taking risks, travelling, being there for your best friend, staring bullies in the face, crashing and getting up over and over again.
It's what you learned by falling for the wrong guy, getting your heart broken, breaking someone's heart, allowing heartbreak to make you stronger.
It's what you learned when you got your first job, paid your bills for the first time, quit your first job, moved across the world in search of adventure and made it work.
"Absolutely nothing is worth letting your self-worth be determined by external forces."
You know you've learned something when you realise that confidence is sexier than any amount of make up and that enthusiasm goes a longer way than expertise. It's when you stand for something you believe in (which will be the scariest but most empowering
thing you can do), staring your fears in the face, looking in the mirror and loving who you see instead of wanting to change this or that about your body, being betrayed by someone you trusted and letting the pain rip you apart, knowing when you were wrong and admitting it, not letting shame or guilt run your life, becoming a better person and one you can be proud of, making decisions when no one supports you but the call of your own soul, trusting yourself and truly believing that you are capable of being whoever you want to be.
No, your future doesn't depend on your CBSE Class 12 marks or what college you get into - it's an evolving lifelong thing that you get to create page by page, chapter by chapter, in the book of your life.
You are and always will be much more than a degree, a course, a job.
You are a human being with inspiring qualities and with infinite potential -- at age 18 or 80.
Recognise your power and resourcefulness. Be so strong from the inside that you can face any situation in life and make it sparkle.
There will be laughter and tears, endings and beginnings, births and deaths, adventures and misadventures, regret and acceptance, the world will fall apart many times and come together again.
None of this will be dependent on your marks or what/where you studied.
Very little in life is worth losing your sense of self and peace of mind.
Absolutely nothing is worth letting your self-worth be determined by external forces.
You are wonderful. You are bright. You are courageous.
And there are many ways to get to where you want to be, if you'll keep your dreams alive and the doors open.
The rest of your life is just beginning.
And I am so excited for you.
This post previously appeared on the blog your life YOUR way.