A lot of people have asked me, “How do your parents feel about what you’re doing?” Embedded in that question is, “what do your parents want most for you?”
So I asked my parents the latter question and their answers were as follows:
Dad: “Health; safety; and a rich experience.”
Mom: “For you to find your passion; maximize your strengths; and contribute to humanity through forgiveness, gratitude, lovingkindness, and peace.”
These answers are similar to what thousands of parents have answered on surveys when asked this question, and are in line with my own personal goals.
Yet, what do our schools teach?
Dad: “How to think rationally; problem solving; and critical thinking.”
Mom: “Exposure to history, literature, the classics, and more to give us a context; basic mathematical skills and scientific theorems; and emphasis on grades and tests.”
While exposure to history may allow you to find your passion, I was finding that that wasn’t the case for me. A dynamic place like Penn definitely provides an opportunity to pursue both simultaneously, but I didn’t feel like my classes were providing me with the tools I needed to identify and maximize my strengths or to contribute to humanity in any tangible way.
So I took a semester off in search of an experience rich in meaning. During that time, I was able to identify what exactly I wanted out of my life and what constituted well-being for me: challenging new experiences, deep relationships, and a purpose greater than myself.
The exciting thing that I found is that my own experience and understanding was corroborated by the science. PERMA, or Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment seemed to encompass what I had found in my own life. Working on a challenging, but attainable, meaningful goal with many of the greatest people on this planet allows me to pursue all of the well-being goals set forth in PERMA.
While my stomach is sometimes upset and India is not necessarily the safest place, I can definitely say that I have found my passion, am seeking to foster and use whatever strengths that I have, and am trying my very best to contribute to humanity through forgiveness, gratitude, lovingkindness, and peace.
So, in short, my parents feel okay about what I’m doing.