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Ever since I was old enough to have knowledge of the fact that there are these things called ‘streams’ that a student in India has to pick in class XI, it was drilled into my mind that the one I was going to choose would be Science. Whether biology or math was completely up to me!
It seemed so obvious that I never even considered anything else. And when I took up PCM, it became clear I’d become an engineer. What else is there to do in life that’s worthwhile, amirite?
So, very merrily, without even thinking about it for a second, I took up PCM in class XI. I’d always been a good-ish student, if I may say so myself, so my parents had no doubts I’d get into a good-ish engineering college and get a well-paying job and settle into a comfortable life. To increase my chances of securing this good-ish college, they had me enrolled into coaching. Life seemed all set and planned out.
Except, I realized I hated it.
It’s not that I didn’t try— I really, truly did— but I just couldn’t get myself to enjoy what I was studying. My coaching happened once a week, for eight straight hours. Those hours were a hellish experience; I felt like I’d suffocate to death in that windowless room with ACs turned to minimum temperatures. The rest of the week was only slightly better, because schoolwork wasn’t any easier, not to mention the amount of home studying that was required.
When you’ve been an academically successful student your entire life, a sudden and huge dip in your grades does two things. One, it gets your parents worried, which makes them scold/lecture you about not putting in enough effort. Two, your self-confidence reaches lows you didn’t know it could reach, because without realizing it, you’ve attached your self-worth to the amount of marks you’re getting. That’s what happened with me, at least.
My marks were deteriorating, and my mental health followed suit. I started having these thoughts of my own worthlessness. I would cry myself to sleep, vent into a diary sometimes (didn’t really help much), and consume copious amounts of dark chocolates (that, on the contrary, helped. Chocolates aren’t prescribed after dementor attacks for nothing, after all!). It got so bad that I thought about suicide at some point too, but I never had the guts to follow through on those thoughts.
In the midst of all of this, I also changed schools, and even though I made some great new friends, I really didn’t have anyone with whom I could properly share how I was feeling, which was, in a word, miserable.
After enduring this silently for a year, I managed to convince my parents that not having coaching to focus on would help me do well in the boards and that my divided attention wasn’t helping anyone. So they agreed. Then I dropped the next bombshell— I wanted to pursue law.
Cue allegations of choosing it because it was easier, frantic discussions about job security, pleas that urged me to see how mad I was being, and taunts about how suddenly I’d changed what I wanted to do.
It wasn’t very easy to survive all of that; I don’t know how I did. But a compromise was reached— I’d give all the exams, law and engineering, and we’d keep our options open. I could live with that. After I was done with the boards, I begged and pleaded with my parents to let me do at least one month of proper preparation, and let me join a coaching centre. They agreed, and I did as much as I could in that one month. My parents also gradually became more amenable to the idea of law—there were non-sarcastic inquiries about how much I could potentially earn, the different career avenues I’d have, and the colleges I could attend.
My board results came a few weeks ago, and I surprised myself with the fact that I did well. CLAT results also came, and my rank is 889. That might not be half as good as I was hoping for, and I did shed a few tears over it, but it was after only a month of preparation, and after a long time of doubting myself. All of this made me feel maybe-not-so-worthless-after-all.
In conclusion, I don’t know why I felt the need to write an article of my experiences of the past two years, except I just want to put it out there that even though it might seem hopeless at times, it never truly is. Your experiences will only make you stronger. Keep going; sunsets are inevitably followed by sunrises, after all! 🙂