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Blue to Cream Gradient

Follow your fire

We live in a society where you’re only encouraged to do things that in someway or the other contribute to the ‘’bigger picture’’ We grow up conditioned to believe that this is the only way to lead a happy and successful life and are not only taught but encouraged to leave behind activities that don’t add to our resume.

I was extremely confused about writing this post because there are a hundred other equestrians better equipped to talk about the various obstacles an equestrian in our country faces such as – lack of competitions, minimal recognition as a sport, limited riding schools and not half as many opportunities as most other sports. There are hundreds of other equestrians with more medals and certificates, more knowledge and way more experience but I’ve seen so many with so much passion and talent stop riding, as did I because of academic and other reasons.

I was in the eighth grade when I competed for the first time in a regional show with various riding schools from all over Maharashtra. It was only a few months after this that the horrors of the ICSE and tuitions took over most of my time and for the next two years I found myself doing exactly what I thought would help me achieve a good academic score as well as take part in extra curricular activities.

 I kept searching for happiness in Chemistry test papers where I’d scored a decent percentage and got validation from MUN conferences where my voice was heard- but there was nothing that made my eyes light up the way that horse-riding did. So when I was free from the ICSE I made it a point to get back into the saddle and do what I love doing the most-  ride.

When I look back at my school years from the outside it seems like I have absolutely no regrets. I made it into the student government, my grades never fell too low, I always took part in extracurricular activities and had cordial relations with most of my batch mates, but I wasn’t following my passion. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to stop doing what was expected of me and start doing what I love. When I got back to competing in regional shows it felt like I was starting all over again but I knew one thing for sure, no matter where I go or what I do this sport will always be a big part of who I am.

I still have academic goals that need to be focused on and when I thought life after school would only get easier I was highly mistaken, but I do know one thing for sure no matter where I go or what I pursue- on days I need to feel alive, there’s nothing else I can be doing besides riding horses.

There are many relationships I’ve built with people in these last eighteen years, but the ones I value the most are those with the four legged beasts who jump their hearts out and expect absolutely nothing in return. Who trust completely and make the most difficult tasks seem absolutely effortless.

If there’s one thing I hope you take from this it has to be that nothing that makes you happy is worthless- you don’t even have to be exceptional at it, just keep going and don’t let other people define ‘success’ for you, Most importantly follow your fire, on many days it’ll be the only thing that keeps you going.

~Jianna Bajaj

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