The Odd Rat

It’s really hard to play a game when you know its rigged, even harder, when you know that its is rigged but have overlook and play along. You cannot quit the race, you cannot pretend to quit the race, you should run but do it voluntarily out of your own ‘free will.’ Let me give you some context. Recently, I have been sucked into the world of MBA admissions. This is not going to be another rant about our educations system or it’s rigidity but more along the lines of why/how it functions the way it is.

In my 23 years of existence, I still haven’t grasped the concept of being ‘practical’. This continues to haunt me till date, and has taken a toll on me, especially in the past 3 months. While it is preposterous to decide one’s life based on few sheets of papers ( certificates), that is completely prone to the elements and can easily be manipulated/misplaced etc., I have come to a point where I have come to accept that rule. Because, I want to play along. Similar to that of money, which is again a piece of paper, but I ‘ve come to accept that as well and play along.

To play along, I need to abide by the rules. So I send the certificates and documents to the institution. Just when you think when you have compromised enough, you get another rule that you need to abide by, which will be better illustrated through this experience. Here’s how a part of my interview went:

Interviewer: “Why did you study this?”

Perplexed, I answered: “Because I wanted to.”

I: “Now, why you want to study this? Long term goal?”

“Sir,I like the course content and want to study.”

I: “Good! But What will you do after that?”

“Sir, I Dunno. I will look for a job that interests me”

I: “Do you regret quitting your job? Parents happy?”

“Sir, I am happy”

Brief silence.

I: “Thanks, you may leave.”

“Thank you”

Overall the interview went fine, though.

A brief background will help. I did my BE in Mechanical Engineering, then went on to work as a journalist and study psychology. Now looking to do Masters in HR/ Communication. I will have to justify because I have volunteered for it. But how do I do it, or rather how do I show them I am ‘practical’?

I was sure that this would be THE question in my interviews. Why this after this after this and so on. While it is easy to justify the actions in any way we want, or find excuses, I prefer to tell them the honest answer, which is “I liked it so, I studied.”

Why do we study? To make more papers, or just for the sake of learning? When I see people around me, I see two kinds: 1.Employees studying to get a promotion, 2. People studying to get employment. Education is driven by insecurity, not by the actual willingness to learn the subject. While this is true in every sphere of life, we have started taking the game too seriously for our own good.

If I may summon Maslow here, here is the pyramid he had formulated some time back. I believe, we need to have a closer inspection of this three-sided figure:

The first three, I believe are primary motivational factors and let us assume that you are a reasonably sound, healthy and well-groomed individual and your lower three rows of pyramid are fulfilled. This indicates you are in no danger to yourself or the society as a whole. Now, what happens to you when you abide by the rules and continue to play the game, comfortably ignoring the reason or the motive behind it? Your first three levels are fulfilled, and you’re happy? No! To get out of the lower three is the most difficult task, because insecurity breeds more insecurity. The more you have, the more you will want, or in this case more papers.

Ultimately, what we need to strive for is the last stage of pyramid, which requires a tremendous sense of security. The more insecure we are, the more intolerant we are and the more intolerant we are, the more we engage ourselves in this sort of role playing.

An average middle-class Joe is running the race for forever in an infinite loop of temporary gratification and more insecurity. He goes through 18 years of structured school life and goes on to college, work, marriage and goes on to pass it on to his kids. Do we really want to do it? Or do we willfully ignore the things so as to be ‘practical’?