It’s you, your earphones, your notes, printed words. It’s the rustle of paper of the person next to you, just as involved in her music, her squiggles, her rented text.
It’s your love of learning, heightened – expanded.
There will be no movie-like storm-ins, interruptions or revelations here. It’s a quiet buzz that takes you closer to your truest inclination.
A friend requested a college edition of purpose, a post in which I’d attempted to think about why life excited me way back in school. It’s crazy how insanely shallow and yet incredibly true that post is. My short term goals are momentary and startlingly specific.
In school, my world was limited to school and home. That was a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t affected by anything beyond the fence but for some weird reason I wanted to be.
Years later, here I am…still wondering what helps me wake up with hope and energy. In the bluntest terms, my purpose
Summer after school ended: Going college shopping, the possibilities that come with transitioning from school to college, the thought of having a good college experience and really turning things around
First year, college: Getting good grades, no room to slack off because I wanted to get into every Master’s course I applied to, I didn’t want to be rejected by anyone ever again.
Second year, college: Reading, interning, reading obsessively because book blog but in a way that felt so enriching, studying became easy again so I didn’t have to study obsessively
Third year, college: Not screwing up my post as Lit Sec, spending time with friends, allowing for good moments with people to have as much meaning as my invisible military-style check list of goals for every year
Summer after undergrad: Not screwing up entrances and interviews, wondering why it mattered sometimes but salvaging those helpless purposeless moments by escaping into a book, Candy Crush! I had to finish 100+ levels…just because.
First year grad: Cycling around a pretty campus, learning for learning, through videos, through assignments, through life… plastic fluorescent stars, a vision board, the night-sky… more about experiencing, less about concrete needs and goals and outcomes.
Second year grad: Stuck without thrill or meaning when my yellow phone got misplaced and my data didn’t work…made me wonder how everything depended on network. why. Made me feel so hopeless and ordinary.
Second year last few months: Experiencing, living, being, me.
Summer after grad: I lived for attention, belongingness, validation. Or just any one. Life needed to be a good story, a quirky plot.
my purpose, now: Finding balance. Embracing moderation. Carving my own destiny without upsetting everything in sight in the name of free will. It’s so easy to throw yourself into everything or abstain. But to regulate and stay afloat…to flourish while holding back especially during times when it’s just more comfortable and less troublesome to abandon logic and context…Moderation and/ equilibrium is the real challenge (less is more, more or less).
I started my new years feeling happy to have had a balanced and fruitful day.
But one day is easy. I hope to summon the strength and resources to make what I want out of the rest of the year.
I’ve always been afraid of screwing up. I guess that’s a pretty generalised fear and we all have that, to some extent.
I fear screwing up an initial good first impression, other people’s lives, an exam, my future, and more. The more I gain a decent footing in whatever I’m worried about making a total mess out of, the fear only grows. Everything I do feels akin to building a card castle, and I’m scared that one incorrect placement can cause it to collapse.
As a result, I may avoid things that I’m actually pretty interested in. What if I suck at it and make a fool out of myself? Or may appear unusually inhibited and silent, because I’m afraid of asking the wrong questions. Or make sure my grievances and wants and dreams stay in my head. In a way, my fear of screwing up has caused the most number of screw ups.
In my third year of undergrad, I was especially daunted by a multitude of fears. It was my last year. I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I had a post in the Student’s Council which involved coordinating with teachers and students and absolutely didn’t want to piss anyone off. I worried and worried about every single event or initiative I had to take, especially ones where helping one person out would mean displeasing the other. For a placater like me, it was like this web of chaos. It lead to so much internal conflict, and tears, and anxiety.
How did I overcome it? It’s funny how the fear of failing, and falling, and in general, “screwing up” disappeared the minute I actually screwed up. It was the day after an event that went horribly wrong. Fingers were pointed, and mostly at me. I knew that while the situation had been unavoidable, I did have a role to play in it.
That conversation with the “disappointed” teacher, where I got a big lecture, the conversation of my nightmares, was finally a reality. And… while I was living that dreaded moment, my mind was finally, shockingly clear. It was one of the few times in my life when I felt truly calm.
I was there, in that moment. I had let someone down, essentially “screwed up”, but I was still whole.
My heart was beating fast, but it was still beating.
My mind was still working. I was alive and kicking. The ground that I was walking on was still solid. Nothing exploded.
I screwed up, and yet I was totally okay. Even the disappointed teacher was only talking about what I should learn from it, rather than playing the blame game. And boy did I learn from it; way more than I’d ever learned during the times I’d run away from a situation or taken the easy way out so that it was guaranteed that I wouldn’t screw up.
I learned that screwing up is inevitable; and as long as you learn from it, rather than feel let down because of it, you can only rise from and above it. There are far more important things in life to focus your energies on anyway: like being true to yourself and doing the best you can, rather than avoiding danger and avoiding chaos.
I don’t want to sleep.
Every word in my textbook tastes like pressure.
I don’t want to sleep because then I’ll have to wake up and I would’ve lost another day to junk food and television, attempts at a first chapter of a story that never turns out right, calls I never make and deadlines that wait in dark corners…to chase me.
I don’t want to sleep because I’m probably working for the wrong goal or staring at the wrong affirmation. I repeat it to myself again and again and again when the truth is there, right there, clasped by a clip that’s as light as day.
I don’t want to sleep because I’ll wake up to another day, then another, then another and expectations will outshoot progress. Expectations that turn a problem into a complicated equation.
I don’t want to sleep.
It’s better to stay up, reading while the heart of the issue is still numb from its time in the freezer and I’m still a part of the carefree day that is yet to end.
imagine you have nothing to lose
and notice the grass grow greener, the bead of sweat that rolls down your chin shimmer and dry as your lightest threat, darkest secret and worries and doubts and fears that seemed endless diminishes in front of you.
As the Final Sem comes nearer and nearer to ending once and for all, there’s also so much work that needs to be done right. I’m still undecided on my case study but I have gotten started on my survey. The survey is supposed to be environmentally related. Mine is on Knowledge, Awareness and Attitudes Towards Nuclear Energy.
Given the two completely different takes on the Kudankulan issue (CLICK HERE and HERE for more details) which seemed to stem from people’s attitudes, opinions and associations related to nuclear energy, I decided that was what I would be doing my survey on.
I would really appreciate it if you took the time to fill my survey if you fit the target population; the target population being:
17-35 years old and Indian resident/NRI/any resident aware of current issues in India
If you fit the criteria, here you go:
Thank you so much for taking the time to fill my survey. Happy holidays, everybody!