When the early people first appeared on the earth, they were purely driven by the primal instinct to survive. All activities and tasks – for example hunting – that were performed by them were in order to fulfill the fundamental needs and survive. However, in the modern era, students and people in communities like Woodstock already have their fundamental needs fulfilled. With the upbringing and resources that our parents have provided us, we will most likely never have to worry about our basic requirements such as water, food, health, property and shelter. Therefore, we are not driven by the “need” to do something in order to survive. Rather, we must then shift from our pursuit of survival towards a deeper, more meaningful pursuit of happiness.
However, happiness is not something that comes instinctively and most struggle to find what truly makes them feel alive. This often leads to a crushing void within us. Many cope with this by simply going with the flow of things. Another highly prominent coping mechanism is materialism. Since most do not find happiness in what they do, they try to fill the said void through money and purchasing an endless array of possessions. This creates a very dangerous culture because most people chase a profession or lifestyle that helps them earn the most money. They think money can fulfill their desires. However, linking happiness to money only leads to a deeper trap where one eventually realizes that the aspects of life that really mattered, such as – meaningful relationships and the feeling of belonging cannot be purchased by deep pockets. Sadly, over time, society has adopted this as the norm. Moreover, this superficial pursuit of monetary satisfaction is encouraged even!
In many parts of the world, this leads to a much greater focus on academic pursuits only, because it is believed that academic achievement is the sole indicator of success and capability to earn. This system is bound to crumble because our strength lies in the fact that we are all unique – we each have traits and abilities that make us special at what we do. It may be art, sport, music, social skills or anything at all. However, the exclusive academic focus and pressure from society dwindles away the creativity and passion of most people from other fields, moreso, it molds a very monotone community of people. Albert Einstein summed it up perfectly – “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing it is stupid.”
The escape from this trap, while easier said than done, is pretty straightforward. You must pursue your true passion, the things that bring you true happiness rather than blindly conforming to society’s expectations on education. What is really important to understand is that genuine happiness comes from within. This is because most situations and things in the world are temporary. If you attach your happiness to outside circumstances, you will be left vulnerable to the constant nature of change. Thus, you must be content with the blessings that you have, while also maintaining the hunger to strive towards being the best version of you. Happiness should not be a short-term goal. Thrill is the short-term satisfaction we often confuse with contentment. Happiness is about sustainable satisfaction and the simple recipe to achieve so, is to maintain a delicate balance between being content with what you have and persevering to do better everyday to become the best version of yourself!
As someone with experience in CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, and IB, what I’ve come to realize is that while the IBDP and Woodstock programs are very rigorous, they let you have the freedom to explore all your interests while giving you all the exposure needed for you to find out what you truly love. The CAS requirements give you a sufficient amount of extra time beside your academic schedule, which encourages you to participate in the activities full-heartedly without getting tied-down with academic commitments. Speaking about the IB, while it provides all the required content to pursue higher education in any discipline, what it really endows upon you are the essential skills such as research, communication and critical thinking skills that are useful for any aspect of life that you wish to focus on. Additionally, with so much diversity in the background and talent of each Woodstock cohort, there is a constant environment of learning new concepts from one another, which make it that much easier to constantly grow as an individual. In my opinion, the variety of life and endless range of facilities at Woodstock provide a very fertile ground for self-improvement and it is ultimately up to the individuals to decide how to make the most of what Woodstock has to offer.
Aryaman is a staff reporter.
Edited by Asha.