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The wonder years

The phase post-school to end-of-college begins slowly and gently, and is full of learning, almost always ends in independence, ambition, desire and a fierce fire that urges one to break out of comfort zones, and attempt to reach that place of their vision. Here’s what the journey feels like:

The beginning:

Beginnings are special. They are simple, exciting and easy. After growing up within the secure walls of a second home called school, stepping into college seems like a continuation of that walk of life, with an extra dose of freedom of course.

“In school we don’t depend on each other. In college, however, we rely on each other a great deal, particularly to fulfil our academic pursuits. Hence, it is important for us to maintain relationships, and be comfortable with one another,” says Roshan Rughwani, a first year BDS student of Sri Ramachandra University. “In school, I was an introvert. Over the past year, I have certainly become more social and comfortable with myself and others. For instance, when I stepped into college I thought dressing smartly would win the approval of my peer group. Now at the end of the first year, I can just be myself, and I know that my friends will approve of who I am.”

Madness in the middle:

At this juncture, everything is cosy and comfortable. Most people have settled into their peer groups and are now used to the gateways of their college campuses. Teenage and fluctuating hormones find most of them expressing ambivalent feelings towards college and life, in general. However, they are closer to graduation now, and things are hastening. Mira J., second year student of BA Sociology from Stella Maris College, says, “I just resumed college after a fantastic, long trip to Kodaikanal with a bunch of my friends. This year, academics wise, things are a lot more serious. Everybody is planning their future. I signed up for GRE classes this summer because I want to go abroad after college. I also signed up as a volunteer at CRY. That apart, I intend to add a whole bunch of research papers to my portfolio this year; I think they will add significant value to my resume.”

Race to the finish:

The final year is melancholic. You suddenly remember all the out-of-the-world experiences you have had through the years; all the lovely people you’ve met and who perhaps are an integral part of your life now; you regret doing some things and not doing some. The realisation of the natural high and immense freedom coming to an end, suddenly dawns! “Bunking classes, attending exams and classes in an inebriated state, getting bulk attendance through the excuse of miscellaneous department work, we have done all of this,” says Kushal Lalvani, final year student of BA Journalism and Mass Communication, SRM University. “I will miss all this only because I did this with my friends. Without them, nothing would have been worthwhile. This is the only time we will be able to experience this sort of a carefree existence. I will miss this freedom.”

Yamini S., final year student of BE Computer Science from Velammal Institute of Technology, says, “There are a couple of things I want to do. I want to apologise to all my teachers for all the times I hurt them, knowingly or unknowingly. Secondly, I have always had this secret desire for bursting crackers in the campus at least once before I graduate. I will try doing that in my last semester.”

Farewell:

Goodbyes are painful but the learning is great. The fear of losing good old friends will not overpower the hope of making new ones. The end will always lead to a new and better beginning. At least that’s the hope! Isha Salot, final year student of MA Media Management from MOP Vaishnav College for Women, says, “Over the last few years, I have had both good and bad experiences and both have taught me a great deal. I only realise that you don’t have to impress anybody out there. You don’t have to tell people who you are or what you can do. Your work will talk for itself. If you have a strong desire, there is really nothing that you cannot achieve!”

Do’s and don’ts

Have fun: If you take time out to do something fun, the load of exams, papers, and assignments in the following week lightens.

Sleep well: Sleeping at 3 am and waking up at 7 am is not the best idea. Sure, catching up on television time and texting all night is great fun, but sitting through 6 lectures at a stretch the following day, isn’t.

Try new things: Sign up for salsa classes; take up a part time job; learn the guitar... anything! Trying new things will creatively stimulate you, and fill you with a sense of rejuvenation and confidence.

Don’t worry: Fear of the future or lack of confidence in yourself can rob you of joy. Worry cannot change things, you can! Just believe in yourself and live in the moment.

Eat, drink and be merry: Make the most of each day! Laugh with your friends, explore the town, eat great food, fall in love... After all, college is a once-in-a-lifetime thing!

Don’t be self-conscious: It is okay to be yourself; people will like you anyway. Let go, and be who are; it is the only way to make friends for life.

Don’t waste time: It is okay to have fun, and do the things you like, but it is not okay to do just that. Remember why you are in college, and that should be your first priority.

Don’t argue/fight: It is important to not let fluctuating hormones break important relationships that may enhance personal growth and journey.

Don’t be untidy: You probably look the best now than you ever have or will. So dress smartly, and most importantly, neatly, and walk with your head held high!

Don’t Facebook: Social media can only help you build an online personality, and one that will impress most people. It is just a matter of time before you encounter one of them at the mall, or the cinema, or the coffee shop, or your house and they may not feel the same anymore. Focus your energies on building your real personalities!

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:30:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/The-wonder-years/article11624468.ece

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