The New Life

Engineering student. Engineer.

So, the last semester is over. College is officially done. I don’t know how I feel about that really. I suppose I would have felt more of a change had I gone to a different city. But since that hasn’t happened, I guess it’s not really sinking in that my student life is over.

I finished my last semester doing an off-campus internship, and am currently on a break. The past few months have not been easy. Adjusting to not being a student is a difficult process. Top it off with other personal disappointments, and you have the perfect recipe for becoming “mopey”.

However, I have been trying my very best to not let that happen. In order to overcome my funk, and the consequent writer’s block, I have been taking an online poetry course. It’s called “How Writers Write Poetry 2015“, and is conducted by Iowa university. It was suggested to me by one of my favorite professors, who knows that I enjoy writing. 🙂

It’s definitely a great experience since I’ve never taken a formal course in creative writing before. I have learnt about some really interesting forms, and I hope to add them to my writing practices. I will be bombarding this blog with a lot of poetry in the coming few weeks.

On the whole, I’ve noticed that this blog has seen less of personal blog posts and more of poetry. I know the reason. It’s easier to hide behind poetry and other creative writing than write what’s really on the mind. And there has been a lot on my mind lately. When I started blogging, one of my goals was to make this blog reflect a part of me. And cutting out the personal stories would be detrimental to that. So, I will be making a deliberate attempt to communicate more on this blog.

I know that I haven’t been exactly regular with the posting, and I’m glad that the readers have stuck with me in spite of that. This is my effort to start engaging more, and begin anew.

Photo by Tim Mossholder

One Last Time

On 20 November 2014, I attended the last ever lecture of my college life. Over the next few days, consciously and sometimes subconsciously, I was aware of the “last” time I would be doing certain things, saying certain things, meeting certain people. The last lecture, the last pen-and-paper exam, the last day at college, the last stroll around the campus, the last visit to every corner of the campus, the last tea in the cafeteria… the last day of living in the hostel, the last memories with friends.

There are of course new things to look forward to. A new job, a new life. But the truth is that I was terrified; terrified of leaving that comfortable place that I had grown to call home. I was afraid of not being a student anymore, not belonging to that wonderful university anymore. I was afraid of growing up, and going out . I was afraid of finding out that life turns out to be very different from what I imagined it to be. I was scared of looking back one day and smile ruefully at my Plans, with a capital P. I still am.

I know all of this is as clichéd as possible. I’m sure every single student goes through the exact same thing. Every college churns out tons of nervous/excited/naïve new adults every year, by the batches. I’m sure every one of these people find their way about. And yet, I don’t know it. For myself. I’m afraid of stumbling through unknown mazes.

It comforts me that there is technically one more semester to go, even if I am doing an internship off campus. Although I won’t be living in the hostel, it is a relief that I can visit sometimes. It is true that I love the idea of new beginnings. But for now, I cannot help but focus on the strings that yet tie me to the university. I cannot help but cherish the small moments of my student life, one last time.

Blog Review: 2014

2014 has been a very happening year for me. There have been many defining events. The coming year is going to bring even wilder changes! I hope that my blog will continue to reflect the things happening in my life and that my writing will stay true to the person that I am. 🙂

Blog-wise, the year saw a lot of poetry, and some life moments in between. Here are some of my favourite posts this year:

Stories:

Grief

Broken

Poetry:

Silent Love Poem

Fire

You Lied, Mother

The Empty Page

There Was Nothing To Be Done

Life/Personal:

Not Being Able To See

Being Enough

On Vulnerability, Bravery and Failure

Last year, my Reader was filled with these wonderful blog reports. I started blogging in February of 2013 and hence, did not get it the last time. This year, this little surprise was waiting for me in my inbox. 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I hope the following year sees more eclecticism in my blog posts. 🙂

Have a wonderful year ahead!

Happy New Year – Festive, sparkling and glistening cake pops | niner bakes

 

Seeking Solace In Your Past Self

Often, in moments of fear or anxiety, I go back and read my old blog posts; the ones about bravery and growth and optimism.  I smile a little, nod a little, but a lot of times, I just wonder. Many times, I start reading and get lost in the words and suddenly, I realize that I’ve been reading the words as if they are by some stranger, when in reality, they are mine. Was it really me, who wrote these uplifting words? How did I know then?

I used to think that knowledge and experience are things that only grow with time. What I learnt once would be remembered always. Maybe that is not always true. Maybe “knowing” is an ever-changing entity and you may gain something several times and lose it as many times too.

trust yourself......

Image via Pinterest

Maybe growth does not always mean adding to your reserve of strengths. Maybe it just means that it evolves continuously, and the what was once a strength may as well be a weakness now.

I have a love-hate relationship with crossroads and decisions. I like to believe that perhaps everyone does. I like the anticipation of beginning something new. I love that the thought that what may be coming may be wonderful and colorful. But at the same time, there is of course, this fear of choosing the wrong road, and ending up lost. What if that path was better? What if that school was better than this? What if that branch was better than this? Am I in the right place? Am I going in the right direction? Am I making the decisions which will lead me to that life? The one that I have planned?

In retrospect, my past self has always chosen the paths that ultimately turned out to be for the best. Sure, I may have certain small regrets, but by and large, I suppose I am right where I should be. And yet, whenever the time comes for something new, I’m terrified. How did my past self make all these big decisions? How in the world did I know? How did I stand so bravely in the face of all those changes, all those challenges? I feel awed by that self.

Maybe some day, I will read this again. And maybe I’ll have a clearer idea of what it all meant. Maybe someday, my present self will be a solace to the one in the future.

The Rainy Day When I Forgot To Make A Boat

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve got a LOT of stuff going on. It’s a period of learning new things, relearning old things, and the most difficult of all, waiting. I never rated myself high on patience anyway, but this has been the ultimate test.

Today was an idle day for a change. And a heavenly one; the rains look beautiful from our windows! I happened to be home from university. It was nice sitting with my parents, quietly, enjoying the rains.

raindrop

There were children playing in the little water puddles. Looking at them, I suddenly sat up, thinking.

“What happened?” my mother asked.

A few seconds later I replied.

“I’ve forgotten how to make a boat!”

You know the ones; origami boats that we used to make in school. The ones we put in the water puddles during the rains.

Getting hold of some paper, I immediately started making one. I couldn’t see the steps in my mind at once, but my hands remembered. I guess this is one of the things that is like riding a bicycle; you don’t forget.

“Turns out I do remember how to make a boat.” I grinned at my mother.

I suppose this could have been the point where my mother told me to stop being ridiculous and grow up. Ha! She taught me how to make a ship! 🙂

boat

 

On Vulnerability, Bravery and Failure

Trying out new things; the thought makes my stomach plunge a little every time. You know the feeling; a sudden jab of fear, adrenaline, and a worse version of “butterflies-in-the-stomach”. In general, stepping out of your comfort zone, leaving behind “what you know” invokes similar feelings.

I’m generally very good at identifying “what I know”. While that can be a valuable quality to have in various situations, it is also a liability in personal development; I form unnecessary boundaries and define limits for myself.

This is not my thing: not making an attempt.

I’ll try my best but I’m warning you, I’m not very good at this: being apologetic in advance.

I know what all of these statements mask. A fear of failure. What if I try it and find out I’m not good at it? I won’t even try. What if people see me fail? I’ll claim I knew it in advance. All the while hiding behind a claim of self-knowledge and a show of courage.

I’ve spent a lifetime in a cocoon. I’ve cottoned my surroundings to lessen the impact of any stumbling block.  All my life, I’ve held on to things that I know I’m good at. It has stopped me from giving a chance to things that I could have tried and probably enjoyed. And yet, I know I’m missing something; exhilaration. Devoting your whole and soul to something and simply hope for the best.

The past semester has taught me various things. Getting past the feeling of vulnerability is one of those things. I’ve tried to put myself forward, right into that uncomfortable spot, in small, everyday moments of life, consciously. A prick of fear, many moments of “What was I thinking!” and a final dogged attempt later, I’ve always feel glad of attempting the uncomfortable. And in most cases, it hasn’t been that bad. A lot of my inhibitions have been over-exaggerated and sometimes, downright irrational.

In this past semester, I’ve made myself face small challenges every day. I’ve tested and flexed what I thought my boundaries were. I’ve launched heads-on into things that make me uncomfortable. The results have been satisfying. I’ve found new strengths. I’ve discovered a depth in my capacities that I never knew of.

Unfortunately, I’ve found out that such attempts, while very enlightening, have not changed my basic instinct. Which is to save myself from failing. A few days of comfort, and coming back to facing vulnerability is as difficult as ever. Bravery then, is a product of not one (or a few), but many such attempts.

bravery3.jpg

This is my goal now; to continue to challenge myself every day, to try my hand at something new, to conquer that discomfort felt in the pit of my stomach. My goal is to fail, perhaps in the eyes of the world, so that I do not fail myself.

A Fair World

It was more than a decade back. The Navratri celebrations in our society had Garba competitions. (I’ve talked about Navratri and my love for dancing here. For the new readers, Navratri is a nine-nights long dance festival. Garba is the dance form). It was announced that the dancer who dances continuously the entire night (excluding official breaks) will win.

I was nine, passionate and a fairly good Garba dancer. I held a wish in my heart. I wanted to win. Working up the will, I danced tirelessly. I did not stop when there was barely space enough to dance.  I did not stop when the crowd lessened. I did not stop when my body started aching. I danced the entire night.

It was time for the prize ceremony. I was feeling elated. I had danced more than ever before. I had had more fun dancing than ever before even though I was tired. I was proud of myself. I had achieved something that I hadn’t thought myself capable of.

I did not get the prize. It went to the organizer’s daughter. At the risk of sounding, well, childish, I should mention that she did not dance for even one complete hour. I don’t have an accurate or objective memory of her dancing skills.

It was the first time I learnt that the world isn’t fair. You may not always sow what you reap. You may not always get the fruits of your hard work. You may not get any acknowledgement or appreciation for giving your whole, undivided devotion to something. I was too idealistic. The realization broke my heart.

Over the years, I’ve mainly had good experiences in this matter; most of my efforts have been rewarded. But then, there have also been a few experiences where I’ve felt wronged, resentful, betrayed. Experiences, where the child in me wants to cry out, Unfair! and fold her arms in indignation, frowning, and going all Calvin.

I identify myself with the work that I do. I gain satisfaction from a job well done. Anything less than perfect eats at me, though I’ve been working on not letting it affect me. The point is, I pride myself on working wholeheartedly. When that work is not appreciated, it hurts me. And there is not a lot that really hurts me. I suppose it is not healthy to depend on rewards for satisfaction. And don’t get me wrong; it is not the materialistic rewards that I seek; merely recognition for my efforts.

It is an age-old adage that one shouldn’t work for the fruits, just the satisfaction. And that Karma takes care of everything. Eventually everything works out for the best. I would be lying if I said that I do not believe in it. There is some part of me that is still idealistic, that still believes that rewards will come, albeit not in the form that I expected. But then, there’s this other part of me, a somewhat pessimistic part. A part that has been asking these questions lately:

Is it enough to get returns in another form?

The balance may turn out to be all right at the end of the balance sheet but is life mathematics, with each wish, each reward having an equal value? Aren’t some dreams and efforts worth more?

And at the end, when we feel satisfied at least with ourselves, is that satisfaction real or merely a consolation that we fool our hearts with?

These are some questions that I’ve been grappling with, especially the last one.

This is my answer to it:

I shall continue to put in my best efforts in whatever I do. I do not know any other way to work. The satisfaction of it, consolation or not, is very real to me. But at the same time, it is important to be worldly wise too. It is important to know where to draw the line between working tirelessly and getting taken advantage of.

I still do not know all answers. I still want to learn.

What has been your experience?