Do What You Want (Or Maybe Don’t)

I’ve never really known what I wanted to do in life. When I was 7 I heard the words “Doctor” and “Engineer” for the first time in my life. I probably heard them before as well but I decided to stick with 7. It’s a nice age to start off with. Now if I wasn’t South-Asian I would have probably heard the word doctor when I actually needed to go to an actual doctor and the word engineer if I decided I wanted to build a bridge but I was one so inevitably and like most of us out there.; these two words were the motivation for everything I did from about 7 till I was 18.

I stopped hearing the word doctor when I was about 14 though because my dad was a smart guy and he knew a hopeless case when he saw one: that a couple of major miracles were required for me to become a doctor. I had no intention of proving him wrong because that required me putting in some extra hard work. My mother on the other hand, like all Pakistani mothers, believed that her son could conquer the world and literally become if not Dr. Greg House, at least a great doctor.

Now at 14 the only thing I was good at conquering was a couple of Big Macs in under 2 mins but she believed change was right down the corner and I could achieve great things. A part of me really wanted to prove her right but then again that required actual work so I let it go and told conscience to stay shush. “There will be a lot more to do for mom in life” – I told it.

So with one profession out of the question, there was only one other thing left that I could be and that was to be an engineer. There were no other Engineers in my immediate family- my brother had been sent to be a computer scientist but the day he graduated we found out he was actually majoring in something else and my dad had the “Well played son. Well played.” look on his face which I haven’t really forgotten to this day.

So with no one in the family being in the profession the pressure on me was high. Right before I graduated from FSc. (high-school) with mediocre grades I was subjected to the “do anything you want to do but I would prefer if you were an engineer, Pakistan mein aur kisi cheez ka scope ni hai” talk. Which in my head sounded like this:


I decided to go with the former (dreams can wait, food can’t). I still don’t get why exactly I chose the path I did (the food and shelter incentive doesn’t explain it at all). When I looked towards people around me for answers, the conversation usually went something like this:

Random Auntie who watches HUMTV Dramas for a living and gives advice in her spare time: Beta, go for engineering.

Me: Why?

RAWWHDFLGAIHSPT: You’ll make a lot of money! (Which is completely untrue btw and saved for a rant for another day)

Me: But I don’t want to make money.

RAWWHDFLGAIHSPT: You’re not going to get married then.

Me: I don’t want to get married.

RAWWHDFLGAIHSPT: You won’t have kids then.

Me: Never been fond of kids.

RAWWHDFLGAIHSPT: Wow! Aren’t you miserable!

Anyways, the path was chosen now and all that was left to do was to actually get into an engineering institution. After about 10 rejections I finally got into one and there started my engineering journey. The first thing I did on this journey was to check the number of girls in my class which looking back wasn’t exactly the best of the starts but it is one which I remember fondly. (There were four by the way, if anyone is interested. Now currently where I am there are 0. So if you’re looking for a life of gender mixing I would strongly suggest another career path).

Now three years into Engineering I’ve grown to slightly love it, because over the years I’ve realized there isn’t particularly anything else I would have liked to do or anything else I would have particularly been good at. So what’s the whole moral of the story here? I don’t really know, but the few I can think of are

a) You could do something with your life that you don’t want to do and just hope that one day you’ll end up liking it and live a happy life.

b) You could do something with your life that you don’t want to do and probably end up never liking it and live a miserable life. That’s an equivalent of being forced to eat baked turnips completely against your will.

c) You could just screw everything and do what you want, if you actually think you can pull it off that is. Otherwise please don’t try it or embarrass yourself.

That is pretty much it. If you want, you can read Alan Watts trying to sum up what I’ve been saying all this time, here.


One more thing, guys trying to be fashion designers and bloggers and those people who sell ridiculously tasting cupcakes at insanely high prices, please stop embarrassing yourself. We’re going through enough as it is, find something else to do. (And no but this is what I want to do is not a valid excuse).

-Hammad Ali

3 responses to “Do What You Want (Or Maybe Don’t)

  1. Pingback: Do what you want. (Or maybe don’t) | The Pindi Boy·

  2. By Odin’s blue blistering beard! I expected this to end in a cliche of “follow your dreams” and was completely taken unawares. I never could fall in with the engineering crowd, and my abhorence for all sorts of engineering only increased in the two years that I studied it. I too had dived in assuming I’d eventually grow to like it. I didn’t. Not one bit.
    As for studying literature, well it sure beats solving circuits.

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