Your academics don’t define your abilities: Ishaan Agarwal

4 min read

“Sir! What Number 1, sir? Here we don’t talk about new ideas. Or about new inventions! We only talk about getting good grades, or a good job in the USA. We don’t gain any knowledge here, Sir. They only teach us how to bring back good grades here.” – Rancho, Three Idiots 

Marks are not the start and endpoint to anything! In the words of Ishan Agarwal, someone who didn’t clear class twelfth boards in one go but has still made it big in life due to his hard work and passion, “Academics are like a mirror. They expose a few fields and options for you to reflect on them. They are important and everyone should delve into academics while young, but in no way are they a marker of your success!” 

We were #InConversation with Ishan and his story is a live example on how one’s happiness and career are not limited to academic scores at all:

Tell us about yourself. 

I’m 28, born in Lucknow and brought up in Delhi & Dehradun. I currently work managing a few operations for an advertising agency. 

What was your school life like? 

I studied in Mirambika school and that’s what shaped me to be the person that I am there. It was a very different school- our classes had no walls, our lectures were never limited to a one-way classroom teaching. We were always out there taking hands-on experience- if it was a science class, it was always in the lab, for instance. I dissected a frog when I was in the fourth grade and it was pretty awesome the way we got so much exposure! I was really made to explore my creative side there- I was made to think, explore and dream! But class seventh onwards, I moved to a boys school in Dehradun where I was suddenly among a totally different kind of learning and of course, class 12th result was a total disaster! 

How did you develop an interest in the field of media and marketing?

Media and Marketing was always a plan C for me. Plan A was to be an architect, which needed a lot of studying and I was clearly not very good at it. Plan B was becoming a chef but that required a lot of hard work in the kitchen, again something I’m not sure I was ready to do all my life. But later, I realized that my inclination in this field was always stronger than architecture or cooking. I still love to cook though! 

What was it like when your class 12th result came out?

Well, surprisingly, my dad took me out for dinner to celebrate my failure. They were very supportive and they told me that this failure doesn’t need to limit me in any sense, it should only make me stronger. I was sad that all my friends were through it and were going to good colleges while I had to do class 12th again! Nonetheless, I did open schooling while repeating the year and started working alongside for a startup! Though, this was definitely a life-changing moment for me. I remember when the result came, I was out there in the balcony with one leg in the air, contemplating jumping down, but that one day helped me put so many things into perspective. I asked myself, “Ishan, are these scores more important than my life? Can I still not make it big in my life?” I told myself, “Hell yes, I can!”

Was it difficult to get a job as someone who hadn’t even completed schooling? 

That’s the best part about media- your academics don’t define your abilities. Here, you need to be a go-getter, a hustler and a creative thinker. So, that worked in my favor. But, I think this isn’t just limited to media, all professions, be it mainstream or offbeat, they all have space for people with talents and a thirst for knowledge. 

What would you say to the millennial who is confused and struggling to find themselves?

Just figure out what you like, what makes you happy and make a career out of it. Do you like planting trees? What stops you from thinking that’s not a career and that can’t earn you a living? Sell those beautiful saplings and flowers you plant online! Find your calling and chase it- no academics, nobody in the world can and should stop you- make happiness your career! Explore your instincts and that will take you places!

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