When you embark on something new, you never know what lies ahead; it is along the journey that things are revealed to you, one small piece at a time. And it is only after things have been said and done, that you sit down to reminisce and realize what all you gained and were deprived of. College life has been a tremendous journey so far, extremely divergent in its range of ups and downs, but when I sat back to analyze, I came up with my tally sheet of all that I made and lost.
Let me begin with all that I lost, so that I could travel lighter.
Money: No, I didn’t gamble away any money or got inducted into money laundering businesses or anything of that sort, but I am sure this is something that shall go straight to prick the heart of every college student ever and it is the fact that we are constantly broke. We just keep losing money, and I say ‘losing’ because at the end of every month, we had no idea of what did we exchange that wad of notes for? At least I didn’t. So yeah, the first thing I lost was money.
Friends: I made friends, plenty of new ones at college and I had a list of buddies from back home. But I lost many too. That is the deal about college life, I guess. You are so much on your own and the need to fend for oneself is so strong that either we get disappointed when we expect too much from a friend or we end up being the cause of disappointment. I lost many who I counted as friends. Sometimes those partings were amicable and sometimes, not so much. But each time there was a death of an intimacy that had been established, and those were difficult times.
Ego: I came from school a half-celebrity: popular with batch mates, respected by juniors, trusted by teachers, ace student, top-notch essayist and batch holder (bear with me, please). I came with an over-whelming confidence in my abilities, expecting popularity and attention to be birth rights. I was welcomed by an environment where the only attention you could get would be derogatory by nature. Here, there were people who were so good at the things they did, who knew so much and did so much but their achievements did not so much as get a cursory glance. At the same time anything even remotely scandalous would get massive amounts of attention. I learnt this the hard way. But being surrounded by some supremely talented people, people who had employed their talents to achieve something, was a humbling realization for me. My inflated ego was pricked and replaced by a desire to acquire knowledge and plaudits of my own.
Comfort Zone: I came to college with some proven talents that I considered my niche and instead of striving for betterment, I had settled into rigid confinements of what I could do and what I couldn’t. Living amongst people who could do so many things I thought I excelled in, better than me, got me rid of the assurance that I was the best at what I could do. I lost my judgments in favour of impartial exploration, of both, people and things. It was a painstaking process, by no means easy, but thoroughly required as hindsight would have me know.
My string of losses made me a different person and it paved way for all the gifts that were to come my way. I think I will always keep losing things, but I take joy in the fact that what is taken is replaced and by something much better, if only one lets oneself accept it.
Here’s how the profit section of my list looks like:
Money: No, please don’t oust me from the community of the broke students’ association, I was and am perpetually broke. But I made money of my own. This was my first time and the exhilaration of having earned money completely by yourself as a result of the hard work that you put in is a delightfully uplifting sensation. The bucks I made were not just money for me, they were like a signal from the universe that if one tries hard enough then the efforts are transformed into results. It was not just money I gained, it was also the realization that I could do whatever I set my heart upon and the transition from a child who might need looking after to almost an adult who could manage her existence in this complex world.
Friends: I have fewer friends than I ever had, but they have transcended from the friend-zone to the family terrain. When we parted at school, there was this fear that we shall drift apart. But after the trying times that we had together, I stand at a place from where I can safely vouch for a life time of companionship with them, no matter the distance and time that separate us.
Improved physique: And by that, I do not mean ‘losing weight’! I acquired renewed love for sports and inculcated a desire to develop a healthy body with good levels of strength and stamina. Exercising and playing sports introduced a discipline in my life that has now entrenched into my routine, enabling me to get more from my day than ever before.
When we summarize a journey, we can only report outcomes and events. We cannot convey the disappointments and the heart breaks, the pain of falling and the joy of getting up; but we always walk with this multitude of emotions inside us and it becomes an integral part of us, shaping us into who we become. When I look at my journey so far, I realize that I have had my crests and trenches and one day I will forget the particulars. But the unnecessary baggage that I no longer have to carry and the things I have learnt and realized along the way shall stay with me in the time to come.
About author : Salvi Singh is a 3rd year B.Tech (Electronics & Communication) student at J.K. Institute of Applied Physics and Technology, University of Allahabad.