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Are you ready for the World?

Let's face it: It's tough being young these days. The world is much more competitive than it ever was, and there are so many things that need to be done. Newspapers and television tell us what kind of people we should be and the kind of clothes we should wear. Everyone wants us to earn a five-figure salary. At the same time, we have to keep the values of Indian culture flying high. How does one find a balance between the two?

Add to this the dangers that lurk around corners. Some of them are pretty obvious, such as the importance of keeping to the right side of parents and teachers. Others are more devious: one can have an accident or worse, fall in love. This is to say nothing about other tragedies, like getting rejected in an interview, losing out on admissions to prestigious colleges, AIDS, pollution, restrictions on wearing jeans, teenage pregnancies.... the list is endless.

Who said that being a young person was an easy task? We know it isn't. The canvas of a student's life is filled with daily risks and uncertainties. Each brings us to the end of the world, well, almost. But the tragedy is that nobody understands that. What we need is a survival kit, something that tells us the kind of persons we should be and what we should be doing to succeed in life. No, we should not end up on a rope attached to a ceiling fan just because we can't cope up. We have to be made of sterner stuff.

Here it is, then, the Survival Kit, containing essential tools designed to make you a better person. It takes you through a maze of common problems and suggests solutions that will help you become a winner.

Career Cracking Tests

Usually, the foremost problem faced by youngsters is related to studies. For the top students it is the fear of losing one's position by a few marks, while for those lower down, it is not being able to get enough no matter how much effort is put in. The uncertainties of the examination system seem to make it so impossible to excel. What matters is the quality of our concentration. Here are some ways by which our efforts can be better rewarded:

Always attend classes. Bunking classes may be a fashion, but it is always better to have somebody explain things rather than reading a book later on. Take notes. Revise the topic at home on the same day and mark your book with simple explanations, which you will otherwise forget.

How to stay awake. Feeling sleepy in class is a common feeling. Asking questions or taking notes is a way to keep awake. Do not accept what the teacher is saying, but keep debating in your mind. Try to make points, which need explanation.

Studying at home. It is an accepted fact that the human mind cannot concentrate for long periods. It is better to break up your study plan into 45 minute intervals. Take a break after each. Studying for five hours continuously would yield less result than putting in 5 intervals of 45 minutes each.

Wake up early. Many students study into the night, but it is more efficient to put the same effort in the morning. That's because one can concentrate better in the morning. Just two hours in the morning will be better than four hours at night.

Work to a schedule. Always have a time plan for working. Divide the chapters you want to cover and allot dates for each. This way, you can cover more than working without a plan.

Overcoming Shyness

Studies are just one aspect to succeed in life. Becoming confident and speaking in public is often the insurmountable part, especially because these skills are not taught in schools or colleges. There are some students who take part in college debates and declamations, while the majority of students either do not get an opportunity or are unable to get over their shyness.

In most careers, teamwork is required. The inability to speak coherently or being shy will thus be a major drawback. Shy people often have a negative self-image and may feel that other people may make fun of them, even though nobody has enough time to think about others. The self-inflicted thoughts prevent people from being normal and the impression they project is one of being snooty and arrogant. Shy people may, thus, end up being looked down upon, turning their fears into reality.

Very often we create our own limitations. "I live in a small town and people living in cities are better than me", says one. Another person will say, "I live in a city but I was not educated in a convent school, so others are better." This goes on, almost as if people are trying to justify their weaknesses. Needless to say, the walls are imaginary. People from small towns or government schools often do quite well for themselves, sometimes even better than those who consider themselves better off. Take the example of the President of India Mr. K.R. Naraynan. He was neither educated in convents nor did he live in big cities. When we analyze the backgrounds of successful people, we will discover that only a few of them were from large cities or educated in convents.

The way to overcome this niggardly feeling is startlingly simple: take control and volunteer for everything. Take part in outdoor activities. Play games. Volunteer for any group activity-taking place in the neighborhood. In college, seek opportunities to make presentations and speeches. That is how confidence is acquired.

Work to a schedule. Always have a time plan for working. Divide the chapters you want to cover and allot dates for each. This way, you can cover more than working without a plan.

The tensions of life

The pressures of studies and inter-personal interaction usually result in tension. One is beset by self-doubts and every small failure appears magnified. This leads to a feeling of being let down. Most people are able to bounce back and recover after a little while. In some cases, it may lead to depression. Affluent young people, of course, use the term to describe boredom or restlessness.

Real or clinical depression is a more serious thing. It may be marked by incapacity of work, thoughts of failure and death, fatigue and suicidal leanings. It results from disturbances in the brain's neuro-chemistry and is a crippling disease. With an estimated 6.5 per cent of adult Indians suffering from depression, it may not be as rare as we might expect.

Self-doubts are natural to a great extent and parents, while being supportive, should ensure that they are not overbearing. If you have negative feelings, or know of someone who is thus inclined, confide in someone you know. Contrary to popular feeling, friends and teachers will go out of the way to help you.

A hobby can drive away depression, keep you sane and give hours of pleasure. Yet, even though the number of activities has increased over the years, youngsters seem to have fewer hobbies.

Youngsters can develop hobbies for pleasure and profit. Collecting stamps, interior decoration, reading, gardening, fashion designing and writing are some of the common hobbies. Some of the more exotic hobbies could be to fly gliders, enroll at the local radio or television station for becoming a presenter, operating a ham radio. Of course, these depend on the kind of facilities available in your town. Remember that watching television for long hours is not a hobby. You will lose out on many friends and experiences if you are stuck on television.

A hobby will add to your knowledge as also the kind of person you are. For example, if you are taking part in some activities as a hobby, your self-confidence will undoubtedly improve.

Dealing with the opposite sex

As one grows, one begins to become aware of the opposite sex. One wants to be noticed and make friends. For its part, the media is relentless in projecting images of young people going around with someone of the opposite sex: the staple diet of films is a boy-girl relationship, while in advertisements, it seems that everything must be used to attract the opposite sex. Soap, toothpaste or talcum powder is not to be used for personal hygiene, but for the attention they may help in getting.

Can you blame a young person from getting confused? It is common to come across complaints from youngsters that they do not have a steady girlfriend or boyfriend and are considered backward by their peers. In every college, there is always a small group of Westernized students who seem to have no inhibitions or parental restriction, giving an inferiority complex to the others.

Let us pause and think whether this complex is justified and how it can be tackled. A school or a college is preparatory stages, providing opportunities to interact with many people. If there are sixty people in your class, it is an opportunity to have sixty friends. Being part of a group is enjoyable. Why do you want to reject all those wonderful people and get limited to the friendship of just one person? Often, it would mean moulding oneself to the whims and fancies of that one person. Is it advisable to give up your freedom? Needless to say, an involvement at a young stage would also mean saying goodbye to your dreams of making a professional career. A romantic involvement is never without its costs.

Moreover, intimacy with one person may also result in something more serious as a sexual relationship. Statistics show an increase of teenage pregnancies all over the country, pointing to the mess that young people are making of their lives. Are you up to handling a pregnancy during college?

The smart person, on the other hand, does not get involved. Friends of the opposite sex are all right and one enjoys their company in a group. This is a healthy relationship, which will add to your confidence. At the same time, it is important to have your head firmly on your shoulders and not get carried away by peer pressure or media images. One must develop the ability to say no politely. If you do feel strongly about a person, wait till you start earning. There will be plenty of time to romance and to find out whether the feelings are mutual.

The next time you see a commercial on television where young couples are close to each other, remember it is a con-game: an entire industry of gifts and cards rests on making you fall in love. The manufacturers will no doubt succeed in selling their products, but what happens to your life is none of their business. If you want to fall in love, ask yourself the question whether you want to be conned by images designed by marketing experts. Make sure that you have evaluated all the consequences before committing yourself.

Surviving as a girl

Whatever one may say about advancement of women in all spheres of life, it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive as a girl in modern India. Blame it on the media, which projects the image that every girl wants, fun, or on anything else you wish. The dangers are many, from being teased by unknown people to being touched in crowded places. In extreme cases, this has taken serious turns: rejected males have thrown acid at girls or tried to harm them in other ways. Every once in a while, a scandal erupts which makes one wonder whether girls are really equal at all. Cases of rape and sexual exploitation are common. The latest scandal was exposed in Kerala where girls going to an ice cream parlour were drugged and their photographs taken, which were used to exploit them. Such scandals have been reported in the most unlikely of places.

Outdated laws in India encourage males to take liberties; girls do not press charges because of shame and the culprits are usually acquitted. The atmosphere in the country has been vitiated to a very great extent that most girls face a tough time just doing simple tasks. The more beautiful you are, the more difficulties you are likely to face.

Girls, thus, need a special survival kit, which includes the confidence of dealing with unwanted attention. Of course, it is not advisable to fight with everyone. But the following tips will help:

Move around in a group. If you have to take the public transport, try to be with friends. Ask your friends to accompany you on errands. A girl in a group is less vulnerable to advances than being alone.

Avoid unknown places. Do not go to unknown beauty parlours or restaurants, even with friends. Stick only to places most frequented by students.

Beware of confidence tricksters. People will try to win your confidence by many ways, like getting you tickets for a movie. Refuse politely and go home.

Dress in a traditional manner. Yes, we all want to appear modern. The sad fact is that roadside males think that every modern girl is fair game. They will make comments and try to come close. What is the harm of appearing backward if only to avoid unwanted attention? Of course, you can dress as exotically you want when you are with known people.

Confide in parents, friends or teachers. Crimes against girls continue because they are too ashamed to speak out. Take control of the situation and confide, even if it is harmless eve-teasing you are confronted with.


Your appearance speaks the world about you. That, however, does not mean that you have to stand for hours before a mirror trying to perfect your hairstyle. People usually do not pay attention to such things. What matters is whether you are presentable or not.

That effect is usually obtained by looking clean. Boys are well advised to shave everyday: a beard or a three-day old stubble gives an unclean impression. Regular haircuts give a well-groomed look. Sporting a ponytail or wearing earrings are best left to television presenters, since these are not signs of smartness. Long hair is unnecessary baggage, which turns off the people dealing with you. Wear clean clothes. For formal occasions, make sure you have some ties. For everyday wear, pick up some jeans and smart T-shirts, but do avoid garish prints. It is good to use a de-odorant in summers. Avoid all other cosmetics.

Girls too need some dresses to be worn on special occasions. For everyday wear, suits and jeans are advisable. Colours can be used to advantage. Forget all those bold clothes made by fashion designers unless you want to make a fool of yourself. A girl can usually obtain a decent effect in clothes on her own. The hair must be trimmed to give a well-groomed look. As for make-up, a light lipstick is all you need. Have your eyebrows shaped and get rid of facial hair. There is no point spending more time and money in trying to look good. Leave the fancy things to those who want to enter beauty contests. The formal look, required for jobs and interviews, is achieved by wearing a plain suit.

The idea is not to spend too much time on one's appearance because there are more important things to life. Moreover, it is doubtful that you have friends because of the way you look. People appreciate you for your nature and the kind of person you are. This does not mean that one can be sloppy, of course, but the fact is that you can have as many friends as you want with your manners and attitude than by spending a fortune on looking good. Of course if you want to be a model or beauty queen, your appearance will be paramount.

Today's young person

This brings us to the kind of persons we should strive to be. There are a number of wrong notions that are being circulated, including the need to be pushing, aggressive and competitive, of getting rich no matter what the methods, of getting an attitude, whatever that means and doing one's own thing. Modern sales institutes teach the importance of "selling a comb to a bald man" without realising that it will erode the credibility of the salesman. One can, after all, sell something useless only once. In the real world, bluffing works for but a short while.

Instead of being aggressive, young people will do well to acquire grace, manners and politeness. This is essential baggage to succeed in the long run.

One way of getting ready for life is to take up part-time jobs. Use summer vacations to help out in an office. This will help you gain confidence in dealing with people and learn manners so essentially required in the modern world. It will also help you decide which career to take up later. The spin-off is that one can afford a number of things with one's earnings, without depending on others.

Today's smart person is a team player, confident about oneself. Yes, they are ambitious. As compared to youngsters of the past, they probably have more confidence and are much more aware. The idea is to use these advantages constructively. We have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, since there is nobody who has everything. We can be achievers too, if we give ourselves a chance. If less fortunate people have made it big, what really stops us, who are young and educated, who have our lives in front of us?