I call it the Great Indian Race.
Over the past few weeks ever since school began, I have been under deep thought and a slight form of depression. The stress of college applications, and how my peers view me in school, began to crack my soul and it did not find a place to go. I think that even my parents will be unable to help me at this point.
So as I was in deep thought, I thought to myself why I even exist. ‘Why does a failure like me have to be born into a family of loving and successful parents? Why do I have no friends? Why do I choke when it matters?’ All these thoughts came pouring down on me like a waterfall, and I did not know what to do. I started to cry on the inside, and I am not the crying type.
Just to reiterate, I am currently a Junior in High School, so this is the year that really matters in the college applications. I see myself as an above average candidate, who doesn't really stand out but has something going for him. You might be thinking ‘Eh, he maybe going places’, but I don’t think that is the case. You see I am also an Indian. And this matters, a lot. To understand this, we have to go back all the way to 2013.
Ah, sixth grade. The year when I moved from India, the land known for its great food and movies. But it is also known for another thing, known as the Great Indian Race. I know, sounds weird, but keep reading. The Great Indian Race is the race amongst the adolescents of India to get to the top of society, otherwise known as ‘Ivy League Schools’. At the time, I was part of the race, as a 12 year old with no idea what he was doing. My parents saw this, and decided that it would be best if we can move to the U.S, far away from the race, a place where dreams and happiness can be realized. In the U.S, I attended a pretty diverse middle school, with not too many Indians. It was a time where I was not under any pressure, and got to meet many interesting people. But, I hated it. The cultural differences that I experienced were very harsh on my young mind, and had thus begun my path towards depression. I did not have any friends that I could relate to, I did not know what I was doing. School work was easy, but I still experienced emptiness inside me. It was a sad time, especially in the winter. The cold definitely did not help with any of this. All I had was my family. As I was going through middle school, life did get better. I joined the track and soccer teams, and did great in both. But somehow, somewhere, there was a little voice screaming inside of me “You suck, kill your self now”.
Next began High School, oh High School. It was a pretty strange feeling when I entered Nashua High School South. There were people who I knew from my middle school, but there were hundreds of kids in my own batch that I had never seen before in my life. Not to mention the people from the three classes ahead of me. Even though this may make it seem like life would get more depressing for me, It didn't. Infact, it got pretty fun. People from the Academy of Science and Design, or ASD Middle, were 99% Indian. Well, they weren’t from India, but close enough. I finally found a group of people that I could empathize with in my struggles as an Indian. It was fun.
Fast forward two years, and here I am in my Junior year. I am back to where I was before, a kid going through some form of depression that resembles a feeling of emptiness. Someone who now uses comedy as a self defense mechanism to block his hatred for himself. I have pride in myself for experiencing the pros and cons of both the United States and my homeland of India, but I regret somethings at the same time. I feel like I have been entered in the race again; the Great Indian Race. The Indians around me have somehow peer pressured me into believing that college is everything. If something helps with college, do it. If it doesn’t, don't. It makes me sad, as this was the thing I wanted to escape in the first place. This pressure makes me doubt my goals and ideas. For example, I am an avid coder, and have taken a liking towards Computer Science. But now that I have fallen under this pressure, I have begun to doubt whether I wanted to do Computer Science for myself or because of the Indians. Being a part of this race is exhausting and is like a living hell. Especially when you don’t have any genuine friends who are willing to help you through this process right next to you (Except for a few). I have begun to view myself as a failure, because I want to push myself more and more consistently. I want to stop , but the peer pressure is stopping me from doing that. It’s physically and mentally exhausting. But what is worse is that I have to see a lot of the Indians that have lived here since they were born enter into this race without even realizing it.
I feel sad for those people who I have known since my freshman year get into this race. A lot of these guys deep down think that doing so will guarentee success and happiness, but the truth is it doesn’t. How do I know? Remember, I was part of this race before. I have seen real people finish this race and end up hating themselves for the rest of their lives.
Yes, this race may lead to a high paying engineer, doctor, or scientists’ job, and sure some people might end up doing well in it and find happiness. But the problem is not this, but the idea of a race. Some people may genuinely want to go into these fields, but I know a lot of people who say that but deep down want to do something else. Either they believe that money is everything, or they are under peer pressure. An example of this is when I was telling a friend of mine that I find philosophy interesting, but he said that it is useless because there ‘is no pay in philosophy’. Well, that might be true, but why should it matter. Money might allow you to solve problems that give you happiness in the short run, but it doesn’t give you the happiness that you want for the rest of your life.
Of course, I am not someone with the solution to this race, for I am someone who has been trapped in it again, what makes it worse is knowing that you are in trouble and you cannot do anything about it.