Becoming an Artist

Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?


I wanted to scream in frustration. It was Mother's Day and my family and I had gone out for lunch. After some small talk, I finally blurted out that I had been looking at art schools and wanted to apply to a few - a confession that I had been building up the courage to admit for weeks. I was terrified of what to expect, but assumed that my parents would be supportive of my decision. Whatever I had imagined, I was not expecting their reaction to be contemptuous. Squinting her eyes with confusion and disappointment, my mother hissed, "No, you will not. What nonsense! Are you trying to upset me?" My father said, "You need to choose a "professional" course, dismissing the idea.

Their disapproval arose not because they didn't want me to be happy or to choose a career path that I was truly interested in, it was because of the society we live in. In India, many high school students are encouraged to pursue the study of only certain fields: engineering, law or medicine. This realisation came as a bit of culture shock, as I had spent the first 11 years of my life in the US, where I felt that people were more open to children's opinions and aspirations. In India, parents often fear for their child's financial stability which prevents...

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