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It’s that time of the year again. Exam results are out, the complementary emotions of euphoria and despair are in the air, confusion is rife, and very little seems to make sense. Just as always, there are those who have no clue what to do next as also those who always thought they knew exactly what they wanted to do but now find themselves in need of introspection, while on the other hand we have those exulting in the spoils of their latest victory and calmly plotting the road ahead. Whichever one of these you or I may be, there is one thing in common to all of us: change, and the need to move forward. For some, it will be the first time you leave school and step out into the real world, and even for those of us who migrated to the so called “junior colleges” two years ago, the challenges and changes in landscape will be just as varied. Further there are those taking an even bigger leap, either going abroad or simply to another city, in both cases claiming independence and the responsibility of fending for themselves.
So am I a middle aged man somewhere hoping to pass his wisdom down to the next generation? Of course not, I am just one among these thousands undergoing transition. However, I happen to be a person of keen observation who enjoys the philosophical nuances of life and has a knack of analyzing and gleaning deep meaning from life experiences with also a heightened sense of maturity (yes I sound narcissistic, but I’m really just paraphrasing people who know me) and thus hope to send the best message possible.
Firstly to those venturing beyond their schools for the first time, especially the ostensibly elite lot hailing from the so called elite schools (I was one of you); school was a highly sheltered environment, the world outside is much more different and challenging, the tags of your elite schools or the fancy and expensive experiences specific to them mean nothing, the sooner you come to terms with this the better. To those of you who have been out of school for a while now, you have undoubtedly already experienced this first hand and have matured in your own right, but you are in transition as much as anyone else is. So to make this generic and relevant to as many people as possible, I wish to highlight two basic aspects, one pertaining to professional life and the other to personal life. Let us begin with the professional; always make your own decisions and when in doubt, do what YOU think is right for you and that which will give you the most satisfaction, and act with conviction, because even if you end up failing at it, you will never regret it and there will be nothing stopping you from moving forward. That to me is very important because regret is the root cause of misery and in my opinion, a sin. Secondly, let us talk a little more about failure. After I passed my 10th standard boards, I managed to gain entry into probably the most highly regarded institution in my stream of the city. So I remember the first English class, our teacher was explaining a poem with something to do with failure and she said, “This is probably the wrong place to talk about failure; you are all too successful and too young to understand it”. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but when I think of it now, it has a much more profound meaning. We will all face failure at some point, some may already have, while for some it may be unimaginable, but it is in fact inevitable. You will face it, that is a given, but the worst thing you can do when you do is to look at your peers with envy and say, “why me?” because what you must realize is that they too will feel what you are feeling one day and it will be just as unexpected and just as unpleasant. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but then that’s true for almost everything. While this would sound rather controversial and even hypocritical, I believe the sooner that failure comes the better, for that way you experience and learn something very important, very early, which will only help you grow. Finally let us address the personal front; there will be a lot of promises exchanged between friends, couples and the like of always being there in each other’s life and never drifting apart, you may even believe so with all your heart but the truth is, people will come and go in your life. All is ephemeral, none is eternal. The important thing is to ensure that no one is indispensable and that you always recover and move forward, for stagnation is doom. To quote Rudyard Kipling’s If:
“If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much.”
The guy’s a genius; he basically summarized the long and detailed last paragraph or so in two lines before I even thought of any of this. Well, no matter how all of this sounded to each individual or how it was interpreted, I just hope at least some of you could relate to it and more importantly that it actually helps. Best wishes.