We grew up somewhere.
Between the first semester hurry and last semester worry.
Between the first semester hurry and last semester worry.
As college life is nearing its end, it got me into thinking how we all had changed over the four years in college. Only then did this dawn upon me that contrary to what might appear, there are those small reflections of the fact that somewhere deep down, we all actually grew up. Well, most of us did. So, for starters, what has changed over the four years? How can I be so sure that we have grown up?
If I reflect back upon my personal life, I believe, I have changed significantly. Whether it’s my acceptance that things do not always turn out the way you planned or shape up the way you think they should. I learnt that there are things that get damaged and can’t be fixed thereafter and that at times you just have to get through bad times and keep looking for good ones. I have become an avid believer in the power of travelling. I grew up in a ‘Gurukul system’ where we had to survive with a bare minimum, a school life that went from waking up as early as 5:00 am and sleeping only after 11:00 pm, doing all your chores by self and living in a very strict and disciplined environment. As much as I might have hated that at the beginning, it goes without saying that it thoroughly defined me as a person.
Then came college. For me, growing up was understanding that experiences do matter and that the most beautiful things in life are people, places, memories, feelings, moments of smiles and moments of laughter. From being someone who was used to worrying a lot about the future, I today believe in the ideology of living just the six inches in front of my face and doing a check once in a while to ensure that the future is not going to be absolute dark.
Growing up reflects in every small thing that we do. For social media, it was understanding that scrolling through on facebook and twitter might be entertaining but if done properly could become enlightening as well. It was understanding after more than 3 years of heavy usage, whatsapp might be the trend but nothing matched talking face to face or hand in hand. That reminds me of a very strong quote.
“If we want to change the world, we need to go back to a time when warriors would gather around a fire and tell stories” — Paulo Coelho
Growing up was understanding that most things we cry about in present might not even matter 5 years down the line. It was realising that there is no end to learning and the world is full of smart and dynamic people to look up to. It was realising that grades surely matter but they do not matter big! It was understanding that our attitude could define how happy we are. It was understanding that howsoever you live, you will always have regrets and the only way to live properly is to learn from the mistakes and try not repeating them. It was understanding that not everything about myself needs to be told to the world. It was realising that winners do not have time to dream about victory celebration after a goal is set. At the same time, it was also realising that happiness will never come from the achievements only but you need people, friends and love for true happiness. It was realising that a lot of people out there are artificial and you are blessed if you can count even a few who genuinely love you and will have your back, come what may.
This friendship that I mention here is very important. Friendship is love in the strangest way and the way its meaning has shifted over the years is a very good example of how we grew up. From what appeared to be just sleepovers and playdates, today friendship is about three in the morning talks, three in the afternoon laughter and sitting together and eating in silence because you would rather eat than talk. This reminds me of a very powerful quote in a highly popular TV series.
“Whatever you do in this life, it’s not legendary, unless your friends are there to see it.” — Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) in HIMYM
Growing up was realising that reading books could actually help more over watching stuff on Netflix. It was understanding that reading articles which seem insanely boring are as important as watching videos or browsing pictures. Growing up was the shift from love for fiction and fairy tales to appreciating Terribly Tiny Tales. It was accepting that one might sometimes prefer sitting quietly alone or with a friend in some peaceful place and whatever the world may say, it was perfectly okay. It was understanding that having no wifi in a remote place was not the end of the world. Instead, it could actually be a gateway to an even powerful connection, a connection with your real self.
Growing up had a lot to do with my perception about my parents as well. It was realising that a little bit of lie about having food is okay if that makes your mum sleep at night happily. It was about appreciating more those small notes from your parents reading “For a wonderful son who means the world to us” attached to the birthday gift over the gift itself. I read somewhere that “You become an adult when you forgive your parents for raising you how they could instead of how you wanted them to.” When I started my hostel life, 12 years back, I had a habit of constantly worrying about home. However, today there are instances when I am unable to talk to my parents daily and I still know that everything is okay. A personal advice though is that one should always try speaking to his/her parents even for at least one minute daily since it’s a great relief for them howsoever grown up you become and honestly, I myself struggle with that. Realising this, I believe, was growing up.
Growing up was realising that amidst all the people out there, you could be the source of positivity or just be another face in the crowd and that this decision was independent of the circumstances. It was understanding that no one out there had the time to judge me. It was realising that silence could always speak a lot. It was realising that confidence can often make people follow you on a wrong path. It was understanding that practically things are very tough to be accomplished howsoever easy they might appear on paper.
“Sometimes, not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck” — The Dalai Lama
It was realising that saying ‘no’ to people was very important and that gut feeling and intuition mattered as well. As a matter of fact, the most important learning that Steve Jobs had on his trip to India was realising the power of intuition that Indians carried. Growing up was understanding that whether it is the dreadful project or maybe the fear of talking to a girl/guy you have always liked, things are tough only as long as the first step has not been taken. Growing up was realising that to not be able to talk to someone whom you used to talk to every day could also be the hardest thing in life and that those thick books we all feared in childhood were nothing in comparison. It was understanding that just because we want something doesn’t mean we have any right to it. Just because we feel love towards something or someone and are convinced it’s reciprocal it doesn’t mean we must own it. A person or a thing or a situation X can be your critic, your rival, your hater, your weakness, anyone and growing up is making sure never to let X be a barrier to your progress!
Growing up was realising that having a well-defined target always was not the only path and it was perfectly fine to live in an aimless fashion at least for some time. It was about understanding that you do not always need a plan. Sometimes, you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens. It was realising that observation and imagination were also as important as the effort. It was understanding that more than hard-work, it is ‘smart-work’ that matters and whereas reading the quote by Abraham Lincoln about sharpening the axe sounds inspiring like many other such quotes, implementing them in real life is not always easy.
Growing up was learning that getting too emotionally attached to someone might or might not actually be a good idea and that there was a very thin line between the two. It was understanding that being selfish once in a while was okay as long as that was not doing any harm to others and as already mentioned, there is again a very thin line between the two cases. A Harvard study claims that love and true relationships are the two things that ultimately make someone happy but we must understand that it is not necessarily the case with every relationship and understanding the same is what counts as growing up.
For me growing up was even understanding that whereas reading is one of the best things to do, writing matters as well. Interestingly, during one of the interviews I had, one of the three-panel members asked me if I used to read and write? There was a discussion going on about the visual sense in a designer. As a reader and occasional writer, I mumbled the answer ‘Yes’ honestly all the while wondering what it had to do with visual sense. I kept thinking about it as to how reading and writing was related to my visual skills and it was not until more than days later, that it hit me! These things actually were relevant and the one interviewer asking the same had a much higher level of understanding in my opinion now. It was a great piece of learning which again helped me grow a little. For those who are absolutely clueless, a possible explanation could lie in the fact that visual sense, reading, writing etc. are some things that come naturally and develop over time. There is a common door that once opened brings into light your hidden humongous natural potential and the likelihood of developing a visual sense was more if there was any hint of the sense of literature or anything that had the same common door.
Growing up was understanding that the power of hugs was actually more than just a cure. It was understanding how to read a pair of eyes, read between the lines and communicate the way Mom always used to do as we grew up. It was understanding that at times even 4-yr-old could give us solutions to problems. It was understanding that on the social front, being an extrovert or an introvert or selectively social was perfectly normal and nothing more than a matter of choice. In fact, if you happen to have an introvert in your circle and they decide to open up, it means you are very special to them. We generally tend to find the introverts more interesting since they seem to act as unsolved puzzles in our otherwise sorted life.
Let’s consider hurdles and stumbles. What might have been scary earlier might not be so today. The one thing, we as just to be graduates can be sure of is our ability to successfully handle life as it happens and even when it goes in a direction we did not expect. Instances over the years have made it certain that life will without fail behave unpredictably. We are already used to the fact that there are no guarantees and, we can begin to appreciate life for the adventure that it is.
Let’s consider casual discussions. If you peek into your memories to look upon what kind of discussions and activities consumed our days a few years ago, our belief that we were the most stupid set of kids grows even stronger. It’s possible that four years from now, I might read out this article myself and laugh out loud. However, this shift that happened, this shift that makes me smile on how silly we were not long ago, is a reflection that we grew up. Today I believe, If you’re able to go through a range of conversations, topics, controversial issues, and beliefs (especially ones that differ from your own) and consider multiple perspectives and points of views, that’s nothing but a reflection of the fact that you have matured.
One of the best parts about understanding things from a mature angle is that it is a great tool. For example, I know that most people today, including my own family members and many of the ‘so called friends’, are concerned about creating an artificial life and run after the most irrelevant of the stuff. Most people tend to give up very easily and always set their limits to what they can achieve. In my 20+ years of life, I think I have already grown up enough to figure this out and not follow the same fate. Growing up in this context was also realising that simplicity is never out of fashion. Be bold and natural, let your dreams take shape, keep your head down and keep achieving. It’s not that tough to be the one who is being clapped for rather than being the one who is clapping.
Soon, most of us opting for a job would be looking forward towards finding a rented place to stay in our respective work cities. Sounds intimidating, Right? For the first time in our lives, we will all be on our own, gone will be the carefree days and most of us would be dealing with the complexities of life on our own stumbling here and there and getting back up again. However, as I said, we will definitely get back up again. Come what may, we will survive. After all, falling happens so that we can pick ourselves up.
As this year ends and we move onto new beginnings, as always, almost all of us would have new targets. I do perfectly realise that I might have made some wrong conclusions above as well and things might look a lot different few years down the line. However, the best part is that it makes me happy that I would be wrong because that would mean I grew up further ;) It’s okay to try, to fail, to succeed, to get mad, to be flawed, to be happy, to move on and what not. Define your own style and howsoever weird that is, stick to it because I somewhere read something like we already have so many stiff necks and starched collars around. For me, it has been very simple. When something goes into your head, be it about a person or a thing that you like, you do something about it and you do it with all your strength.
I could go on and on but that is not the intention here. I just wanted to cherish this phenomenon of growing up that we are continuously being a part of. On a closing note, be open to change because one set of mentality can’t keep you going all the way. What could actually work might be closing your eyes and taking deep breaths when you are just about to lose it.
Long difficult roads make the lessons even clearer. Stay Smiling and keep learning. There is no end!