Jigme Choden is married to her long time sweetheart who is an Army Officer. Professionally, Jigme Choden completed her post graduation and became a teacher. Even as she worked, she got an opportunity to pursue her master’s degree and upon her return from studies, she got elevated as School’s Principal. She was ecstatic. As a young ambitious woman, she enjoyed the respect she earned from the locals, teachers and students. That’s one story.
But interestingly, she had to live another reality too. Her husband was one of the junior most officers in the place where they were posted. As a junior officer, her husband religiously followed the thumb rule of the army hierarchy. Unfortunately, Jigme Choden found herself caught in her husband’s lastman file rank frustrations and her own ambitious dreams. Wives of senior army officers, who were mostly uneducated, borrowed their husband’s rank and tried to create an aura in social gatherings while people like Jigme Choden were made to look very insignificant. There was an urge for her to find her own voice both at home and at work.
So many young people today in Bhutan are going through what is very agonizing, especially now, when most people have so many roles to play. We are all going through uncertainty of trying to find our own identity. Of course we do fill up official forms off and on and try to say we are this and we are that but deep inside, we all suffer from confusion which are related to our own identity. As modern Bhutanese societies are getting more complex, there is a need for everyone of us to go soul hunting for our own identity apart from being Bhutanese along from Citizenship Identity card.
Economic prosperity brings many problems but it is better to have problems related to economic development than having problem associated with poverty. Similarly, identity crisis poses the same problem. We would rather have new problems associated with ever-changing social values than to be associated with customs that are very very old and no more relevant like hierarchies of the army officers’ wives faced by Jigme Choden.
Thirty years ago, our parents and grandparents were all farmers. Today, we still have farmers but we also have parents and grandparents who come from all background. We are no more confined to one village or one town, one occupation or one religion. Just because my father was a farmer no more requires me to be farmer too. In fact, we may soon face the reality that our children would like to undergo sex change and that we are no more confined to one sex.
Therefore, modern Bhutan, and Bhutanese society would definitely go through a number of changes in identity. Most young people today spend more time as students, and try to be associated with school. They work for various organizations and move from one location to another. Someone born and raised in Trashigang later end up as Thimphu resident, giving some of his own individual trait to the community and also absorbing some from the community surrounding him.
Individual Identities, therefore, are largely self-created. A teacher can be a businessman and a businessman can be a good politician too. Therefore, people should be given opportunity to choose the things that they want to do and also to be. Although it comes as a mixed blessings, people eventually find their own way.
So, making sense of the individual identity may be the answer to looking at many evolving social problems of irresponsible teenagers. Many a times, we feel that we are not cut to do something and what we are doing do not suit us. As such, we have wasted half our lives. This often leads to alcohol or drug abuse. The painful situations are reality of many young people’s struggle to build identities distinct from their parents and siblings. That must be the reason why young people like have their hairs bleached or spiked and follow fashion. It may also be the reason why Jigme Choden wanted to find her own space and build upon her own influences.