When a Pakistani woman enters a labour room for delivering a baby, she is under the stress of producing a healthy, good looking and preferably a male child. The moment the baby is held by one of the family members, judgments are passed regarding the skin color, weight and other physical features and the newborn is ‘declared’ a good looking or an ugly addition to the family. Comparisons are made with some better-looking and healthier children born in the family or in then neighbourhood. The ordeal to prove yourself good enough for the world you are born into, starts right there. When the child is able to start walking, speaking and learning different cognitive skills, he is closely monitored by the competitive acquaintances. The next big step is getting the child into the ‘right kind’ of a school. This definition of ‘right kind’ refers to the elitist institutions. There’s literally a severe competition to get into one of these institutions because that defines the socio-economic status of the parents. A two and a half year-old human being has to deliver, to save the day for his parents and grandparents who need to announce in their social circles that the child successfully got into an upper strata haven, a move in the right direction. The grades mania then encircles the rest of the school life of the child. It’s a continuous cut throat competition both in academics and other activities. A child is expected to live the dream of his/her parents in all examinations, on sports field, in music and drama clubs, everywhere possible or impossible. Low performance is simply not an option. We conveniently criticise our children for not being beautiful enough, intelligent enough, successful enough, street smart enough. Some of them who can’t perform according to the dreams and hopes associated with them, develop a feeling of simply not being good enough for this world Anything less than an A plus grade is all the reason for a family disaster situation and bringing shame to the high status earned through tedious labour. Getting into an ‘right kind’ of a university is the next standard test to be cleared. The horizon is now stretched globally. A ‘foreign degree’ is a guarantee of a ‘successful’ future. In the previous sentence “happy” is an insufficient or rather irrelevant term. Success in material terms is considered equivalent to happiness. The desired results of this ordeal are now to be measured in the digits of the salary that the stalwart can make. Finding the right kind of a ‘presentable’ spouse is yet another parameter of success. It has to be someone who has gone through the same competitive process in life. Chemistry is such a useless criterion here, Biology and Economics matter. Sometime back I had an experience of sitting in the rest area at a shopping mall in the US. I am not under any developing-world-citizen-inferiority-complex, I genuinely was impressed by the diversity to be observed around. There were cross-cultural, cross-color couples having a fun filled weekend happily together. Let’s be honest about it that in our social scenario, before falling in love, one has to consider the details of sect, caste, social group, economic status, elitist academic past and professional future and of course an acceptable physical appearance. Being presentable enough to maintain the portfolio of a successful life is the major qualification. Love is a trait of the not very successful, and is a useful term only to get through a literature examination. Wedding ceremonies are celebrations of economic success rather than an emotional celebration and the circle continues. A high-profile funeral has to be arranged to bring an end to a competition for success, also called life. World Mental Health Awareness Day is celebrated on October 10. This year in Pakistan amidst a lot of sad news is the increase in youth suicide rate, drug over dose and cardiac arrest, after going through prolonged periods of mental stress. Though such incidents are depressing as we lose some potentially wonderful national assets, but one positive development associated with these tragedies is that; there’s an increased focus on the need to sit and ponder about the reasons of this growing stress level. When we hear the news of the demise of a student who committed suicide for failing to do good enough in A levels, a qualified engineer for not getting a good job, a young model taking her life due to depression and anxiety; we feel sad and dejected. We need to think for a moment if we were a part of the stress, the innate conflict? The worst kind of conflict is that which goes within ones’ self. We are being murderers without realising, by virtue of that definition of ‘right kind’ of a perfect life style that we have set for our own offspring and other young people. They struggle desperately to be perfect according to these set standards. Some of them can get through and some are too sensitive to admit that they couldn’t. We conveniently criticise our children for not being beautiful enough, intelligent enough, successful enough, street smart enough. Some of them who can’t perform according to the dreams and hopes associated with them, develop a feeling of simply not being good enough for this world. They make the decision of leaving it. We leave them no choice but to be successful, according to the parameters a consumer society has set. This success paradigm is a monster of our own creation. Let’s admit it is turning against us. We are making ourselves and people around us feel stressed and deficient. Please remember and register that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. The stereotypes associated with seeking medical guidance for ‘diseases’ not visible in conventional terms need to be broken for good. Please remember that facing mental stress has got nothing to do with being irreligious. Let’s stop being self-assumed, ever dutiful judges of people. They are not to be identified with digits, models, beliefs and brands. Let’s help our children attain ‘their’ desired goals in life and make them strong enough to expect, accept, cope with and learn from failure. Please remember our children are not gladiators who have to please us and a ruthless audience with their performance till death. The roar for success in the colosseum doesn’t let us hear their cries for help. The writer is an assistant professor of Political Science at Kinnaird College. Her email is email@example.com Published in Daily Times, October 11th 2018.