I just watched the Netflix Series – ‘Alma Mater – Inside the IIT dream’. It was a trip down memory lane – nostalgic, and I did not want it to end in some ways. So much packed in those days, just like peeling the layers of the onion.
I did my engineering and then did my MBA. Both of these experiences were only four and two years long, but a lot happens in those years at a rate that you cannot process.
In the series, they had a section on on-campus placements. I kid you not, my body constricted watching them go through it. I could relate at a visceral level. This you have to experience to know what I am talking about. The anticipation, shortlist, quant or aptitude test, interview. Your life up till then has been one thing after the other or, as Churchill said about history – ‘One damn thing after another. You study hard to get good grades in 10th to get into a good stream – science/arts. And then you study hard so that you can get into a good engineering college. And then you study hard so that you can get into a good company and then it switches to marriage, kids etc. But the pressure builds on.
And nobody – no one person is doing this to you. I do not ever recall my parents putting pressure. In my case, it was all self-inflicted, unknowingly. The world I created ended if I did not get placed. I still remember the very first company I interviewed with. I did not get the offer. I went nuts – I holed myself in my room and studied like crazy. Now, I wonder what I studied for an interview, but at that time, it was necessary. I remember my mom bringing me food to my room. And the actual day, we were there on campus for the entire day. I was such a bundle of nerves that I could not even eat. Everybody in my building knew. All my neighbours knew that I had my campus interviews. It was a big deal.
And I remember late in the day they announced the list, and my name was there. It was relief followed by a tug in the heart when some of my friends did not make it. I remember calling my mother, and the relief was palpable even on the phone.
All this drama, and when we showed up for work the first day, they had no idea we were joining – hehe!
At that time in my life – it was necessary. The drama, the stress, friendship – the experience was significant. It made me who I am today. It creates a bonding experience with others. I probably learnt a lot of life lessons in those situations which I cannot even articulate. Isn’t this what life all about – experiencing life situations. What has changed is now I am not as identified as those life situations. There is an understanding that this will also pass.
Enjoy what you have NOW as it will pass, but you, the watcher – remain the same.