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As I sit down to write this article, I look back to my first day here. On 25th July, 2011, a chubby young lad (still talking about me), walked into this institute, with bags full of food, anxious and nervous about the four years that lay in front of me, in a dreadful city Chennai, far far away from the comforts of home. I walked in thinking that the experience would be like a stroll in the park, but I think it has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, with exhilarating highs (only in the literal sense) of success, intermixed with terrifying and challenging lows of failure.
Disclaimer: Before you dive into the story, I would like to sincerely apologize for the excessive use of senti, preaching and more importantly song lyrics. I’ve tried to distinctly group my time here into 3 phases that I feel best represent what I experienced
Phase I: Idhar daud hain, udhar daud hain, yeh jina yaro daud hain.
Koi aage hain, koi piche hain, bas bhagam bhag hi daud hain
Just like any other freshie, I was astounded by the number of things that I could do on campus. From dance to sports, martial arts to tech, you could learn anything over here. And oh yes, I was also in complete awe of all the seniors and how they were always doing something. That is when I realized that I don’t want to waste my time and want to do as much as I can in this institute.
I was always bad at sports, but there was this one game at the institute that I felt I could play well, and decided to learn it and also be the best at it. No prizes for guessing what it was- it was the famous “the rat race”. But I realized that there was a lot more competition here than I had thought. During the first year, I was just trying to learn the ropes of this game, and took part in a lot of things, even tech and sports (the actual one).
By the time I reached my 2nd year, I added another dimension to it called “Coordships”. Apparently if you weren’t doing one then there was something wrong. By the 4th semester I had delved deep into it and decided that I was going to do everything, and had filled 5 apps in the span of 4 days. Nailed it, is what I thought. I got rejected in 3 of the 5 places to which I had applied, and I just couldn’t believe it. ‘Rejected’- a word I hadn’t heard until then, hit me really hard. In hindsight, I am very happy that I didn’t do well there, because I realized that I was no Superman and couldn’t do everything, and had to be bad at something.
That’s when I took a step back and looked at myself in the mirror, and realized that I had lost track of my academics, the reason I was here. I was completely sleep deprived (the dark circles were visible in spite of my complexion), and I hadn’t met any other human for the last few days. That’s when I realized that trying to catch up with, and best the others in the rat race wasn’t the key to winning. And it certainly wasn’t doing everything that came your way, especially if you ended up doing things that you were not sure you were even going to enjoy.
Phase – II: There’s no question, that’s a lesson I learned from you
As I entered 3rd year, after having learnt that I wasn’t going to be the best in everything possible, and that I don’t need to be involved in everything, I took up the one thing that I liked a lot and thoroughly enjoyed. Sponsorship and Public Relations, for Shaastra. The most challenging and fun part of my association with Shaastra was the coreship.
There are two ways to get work done, either by cracking the whip, or by cracking the whip and then taking the team out for coffee. From personal experience, the latter works! On a more serious note, one very important lesson that I learnt while leading the team is that you can shout and get your work done, but I don’t think it works in the long run. An easier mode of getting things done is called the “buy-in” technique. In this you make the team feel responsible and give them ownership of the tasks they are supposed to do, and more importantly, give them the respect that they deserve. Work happens on its own after that. If it doesn’t, well you can always go back to the: Wuh – pah!
Shaastra also taught that it’s stupid to assume that everyone will give up the time that would affect their personal growth for a cause, just like you might. It taught me that it was okay to be selfish as long as you were not hurting someone else, but just making your life easier and your path to success more clear. And when you’re going into the outside world, this prepares you, because there is no one else who is going to be looking out for you.
Phase – III: Aaj kuch toofani karte hain
After Shaastra 2015, I realized that I did not have anything to do, and for a change I had a lot of time to spare for myself. While I was running the rat race, I forgot one very important thing that this campus had to offer-the opportunity to explore new frontiers. The one regret that I had had during my four years was that I had never explored something new or tried to do things that I thought I liked, and my final semester became that opportunity.
The first thing that I did was to get back to something that I had sparingly been doing over the last few years, and the one thing I had really wanted to dedicate my time to- teaching. I’ve harboured this desire to be a teacher for a long time, because I know how privileged I was to have had a good schooling, and what it can mean to have something like that.
But best thing that I could have done during this last semester of exploration was photography. I started off with it only because I wanted more photo credits on Facebook, but it eventually helped me capture my entire final semester in one album, and has given me such beautiful memories with people whose companionship have made my stay at this campus such a beautiful one.
Hum rahe ya na rahe kal,
Kal yaad aayenge yeh pal…
The day I walked out of campus, I wasn’t feeling sad and didn’t shed a single tear (which was very surprising). That’s when I realized that saying goodbye to the campus was never hard, the tougher part had been saying goodbye to the people because of whom the campus meant so much. The semesters always seem to fly by in insti, and they were always fun, however painful they would have been at times, only because I had a support system of friends who were always up for a cycle ride to Bessie to help cheer me up, or just walk by my side, and to pamper me by so painstakingly planning surprises on my birthdays to make sure that I cry at the end of them.
With each one of their support, I have grown so much over the last few years, that I cannot emphasize the importance of having people around you who care for you when you need it. The magnitude of things that I have learnt from my peers, seniors and juniors alike is something that has made me realize that there’s so much more that I still need to learn and all I need to do is listen to people around me.
As I wrap up my long and boring ramble, all I would like to say is that this campus has taught me how to appreciate and understand others’ perspectives and how to empathize. It has taught me to get up and walk again after falling down, and also, to keep my feet on the ground even if I reach great heights. It has taught me how to appreciate the people around me, and better understand the meaning of friendship and love, and most importantly, it has made me fall in love with myself, just the way I am. For that I will always be indebted to this place and its people.
About the author: Shubham graduates with a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. He was a sponsorship core at Shaastra 2015, and an enthusiastic presence at the Cooking Club last semester. He’s taking a year to explore different opportunities before taking up a job.