Ishita Katyal: Why You Don’t Have to Wait Till You Grow Up at TEDxBhilwara (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of child author Ishita Katyal’s TEDx Talk: Why You Don’t Have to Wait Till You Grow Up at TEDxBhilwara Conference. Ishita Katyal is the author of Simran’s Diary, born 2005, and TED speaker from Vibgyor High School in Pune. For the full bio, read more here.

 

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Ishita Katyal – Author of Simran’s Diary

I’m 10 years old today. Yes, today is my birthday. Thank you.

Many times since I was four or five years old, I was asked: what do you want to be when you grow up? This is a common question people ask kids. Maybe this question is a way to get to know the kid better but in a way I feel this question has an inherent problem. We are telling children it is OK to wait to do what you want. It diminishes or undermines what the kid is capable of doing today and his or her present identity. We focus only on the dreams and ambitions for the future and forget about the present actions and goals. I believe age is just number. I believe any child is capable of great actions and can touch the lives of others regardless of his or her age. Next time you talk to a child, talk about the present. And the future will take care of itself.

My long experience of life has been of nine years upon today, long enough for me to break the paradigm of the phrase: when I grow up I want to be. Just try and think of the days when you were a young school girl or boy, I’m sure you would remember the many dreams you must have had at that time. One day you would have wanted to be a film star, one you would have wanted to be a doctor, and so it goes on, no permanent role models.

When I was seven years old, I was sitting in the audience with my mom at a local TEDx event in Pune. I had these wonderful speakers who came up on stage and talked with so much of enthusiasm. To be honest, I did not try to understand what the talks were all about. But it was those stories and experiences shared on the stage which sparked my curiosity. I returned home with a head full of new ideas, dreams and role models.

My mom told me that TEDx is a platform for people to share your ideas that can motivate and inspire others. I could see these speakers feeling so good and the audience was overwhelmed with their ideas. I was really impressed with it. Now for all of the few who have children or will be having them in future, imagine it’s your child who is standing here and not me, how would you feel? I can bet. The feeling would be no less than ‘Wow!’ Those were my thoughts. When I first saw TEDx talk live, I felt that the recognition that the speakers were getting would mean a lot to a small child standing up on the stage, sharing something unusual with the world, it would really uplift their confidence and self-esteem.

I started to think about how it would be so great if my school would include a course on doing something no one has ever done before and sharing it with the world. This will prepare the kids to give talks like I had seen in the forum. No, I did not have the courage to call for such a program in my school. I knew my school is already burdened with a big curriculum and expecting your school to do everything is expecting too much.

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