Shaelja Mishra

“People who dream of becoming something often fail. Avoid such dreams. Aspire of doing something great rather than becoming someone great. Then you will definitely do it” -Narendra Modi

I have always believed that instead of setting milestones of designations or titles on our career path, we must look for problems to solve. If the one you’re trying to solve is meaningful enough, then everything else will fall into place.

I am being brought up in a family for which respect for learning as well as cultural ethics is a paramount. I was fortunate to have read for 12 years in a school that placed as much importance to values and morals as to formal education. I was always a scholarly child who loved the lessons, was full of questions and was often involved in discussions with my teachers who passionately quenched my curiosity and guided me to become a better person with each passing year. In class 9 I enrolled myself in a 4 year school integrated program of an eminent IIT-JEE coaching institute. By the end of class 10, I was completely in love with science and the various ways in which it presents itself as a logical model of the real world. I was always interested in finding better ways to express a scientific idea or topic and aspired to pursue an academic career in science to nurture this interest of mine. Then came the first  turning point of my life. I entered into class 11 with a lot of excitement about expanding my knowledge. However, it turned out to be a heinous experience. A large part of the school hours were handed over to our coaching teachers who converted the classroom into a sort of factory line were the inquisitive minds were drilled to become a database of tips and tricks to crack problems and any “why” or “what if” was replied as “JEE ke liye itna hi kafi hai” or “Itni research karne ki zaroorat nahi”. One particular ‘topper’ was over-praised and any student who failed to catch up with the rushing lessons was alienated. The worst part was that the teachers, instead of discouraging students from involving themselves in bullying, cheating in tests or abusing , were themselves involved in backbiting fellow teachers, using swearwords for children and encouraging eve teasing . In the two years, I witnessed  the stumbling of the moral foundations of my classmates. All this sucked my joy of learning. My faith in education was restored in class 12 when I decided to seek help of one of my school’s chemistry teacher.He ignited my mind and instilled in me an undying desire to learn, thus inspiring me to strive for greatness.

This was the time when I became aware of the problem I was keen to solve- the negligence of the fact that education comprises of 50% knowledge and 50% character building. My school life made me realize the role of a teacher in building or destroying a child. I have chosen teaching and science-communication as a career path and aspire to inspire the future generations to embrace the beauty of science and use their knowledge to create a better world. Though this career path is not considered a ‘successful’ one in our society and the path of altering the system is a painful one, I am determined to achieve my goal.

My journey till date has taught me some valuable lessons:

Stop seeing problems that you face or see in the world around you as roadblocks but as stepping stones. They’re the building blocks to a better life and a better you. They create better worlds. Look out for such problems and build your career around it. Transform it into an opportunity to change the world. You have to be burning with an idea, or  problem, or a wrong that you want to right to be successful and have a great career. Something that makes you want to jump out of the bed in the morning, and makes you go to sleep every night with peace of having done something wonderful…something that truly matters. Never giving up and pushing forward will unlock all the potential you are capable of. Invest in yourself. Plan your way cautiously.  Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts that take you nearer to your goal.

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take or the amount of effort and risk it involves. Time will pass anyway, and working hard on something you are not passionate might slowly result in a lack of interest. The question isn’t about success or failure. Its about choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.  And if you are truly into it and as long as you persevere and endure, you will surely achieve it.

“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

– Steve Jobs

Shaelja Mishra

Pursuing BSc. (H) Chemistry

Gargi College,

Delhi University

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