I think we’ll all agree that 80% of the classrooms in India are skewed towards the male gender. And growing up in those very classrooms, as a female helped me discover a side of myself I didn’t know existed. I grew up in Dehradun, a small but mighty city in Uttarakhand. While there was no lack of female companionship in my batch, a part of me always vibed better with the boys in my class.
There were many advantages as well as disadvantages to being the ‘only’ girl that hung out with the boys. Some judged, some mocked but many also supported this friendship. When you’re a teenager and have a young, impressionable mind, it is so important to make sure you make the right kind of friends. As a teenager, I might’ve not known that but growing up I’m slowly starting to realize the valuable lessons I learned growing up in a male-skewed classroom.
The things I learned through my years of adolescence, I still use to date. I’m saying this with confidence purely because I “hung-out” with the boys. My school would treat “sit next to a boy” as a punishment but through that so-called punishment, I made some very good friends. These friendships then helped me see situations from the male perspective as well. From knowing how a boy feels when he is teased for liking pink, seeing what it’s like to be a bully, and asking someone out to now knowing when my S/O needs space and understanding what he/she wants without saying it out loud.
The element of survival in the brutal space that is high school has caused many people to lose self-confidence and have a distraught sense of self but I knew in order to survive at that time, I had to flip some kind of a switch in me. Many girls would run away at being teased, but I would tease back. As a child and I also believe that this also helped the boys around me see girls in a different light. Because of me, they couldn’t generalize girls to be timid, calm and submissive anymore because they knew the confidence I carried.
Growing up in a world without social media was tough but I imagine it to be tougher today. So, let’s be that source of encouragement, love, and support for teenagers because boy, do they need it! If you have a teenager in your family or are a teenager yourself, make sure the company you keep is the kind that will help you grow both mentally and emotionally.
There is too much toxicity in the world and if we help each other see wider perspectives, back each other up with confidence, we’ll be much, much closer to a more positive, present and helpful world.