Right there standing at a cliff at Chapora Fort in Goa, I was staring at the vast sea stretching across the horizon. Sometimes you cannot help but get philosophical after seeing things that are grand. Your life, your achievements, your thoughts, everything seem small in front of that. You are overwhelmed and so was I. One word. Overwhelmed.
We were there. I was there with my college friends and yet there was this sea of emotions rushing through. My thoughts, filled with hope and despair at the same time. Lost in the thoughts what would life be couple of months later, couple of years later. We all were there together and yet everyone of us was lost in their own thoughts. I and five of my other friends spent more than four hours at that place just admiring the sun, the sea, the mountains. Standing up against the wind, feeling it, enjoying it. A few other friends joined us in the meanwhile. We trekked down, strolled the beach, climbed up again and then went to another cliff and enjoyed the view of sun setting across the horizon for next hour or so.
“I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite.”
– Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of being a Wallflower
Those five hours at that place will be something we would cherish for a long time to come. We left that place with a promise that the next time if any of us visits Goa we would come back to this place again. To sit on the cliff and enjoy the marvelous sun setting at the horizon and painting the sky red.
“Our plans for the future made us laugh and feel close, but those same plans somehow made anything more than temporary between us seem impossible. It was the first time I’d ever had the feeling of missing someone I was still with.”
– Stuart Dybek
College was an odyssey- filled with memories and experiences. I am sure it has been so for many of us and for many before us. 4 years ago, as I entered the campus officially as a student I practically knew no one and I was nobody. The new place filled me with excitement and enthusiasm and the result was I tried to strike a conversation with everyone I came across. I was naive and did not care what people had to say about me. I did things the way I felt. Little did I know back then that four years later I would myself laugh at those silly things. This is something college does to you. It teaches you a great deal. You come in as apparently matured yet childish boy and leave as a grown adult.
Some of the things college life has enlightened me on. These few realities I’m sure will help me in my life ahead as well.
1. Do not judge people.
People here come from diverse background and regions. It is easy to judge someone in school because you more often than not know them. College friends know who you are and school friends understand why you are so. I had a hard time accepting this one fact. Give people time, they might surprise you. First impression is never the last impression.
2. There are great friends and there are best friends.
One’ll come across so many people and will make friends with many. But then one cannot be close to everyone. The fact is that there will be handful individuals that will be close and will matter. Keep’em close, the ones who really matter.
3. Stop thinking about what people think.
No one is here to please everybody. The God couldn’t in so many years we sure cannot in one lifetime. I thankfully accepted this fact way early in college life. I never cared much about what somebody thinks about me especially when I don’t care about them.
4. Speak. At the right place and at the right time.
I had a harrowing time adjusting to this one fact. It is seemingly simple and yet difficult to act upon. This is something everybody I’m sure continue to practice all their lives. People are hurt even when your intentions aren’t so. Steer clear of anything that might hurt someone especially when they are new to you and don’t know you in person.
5. Avoid extremities. Life will surprise in funny ways.
Be moderate- in your opinion, your lifestyle, everything. I have seen mine and people’s opinions changing over a course of time. Your extreme opinions and thoughts today might seem right to you today but may not be so tomorrow.
6. Give time. Patience is a great virtue.
Give time to yourself, your thoughts, your actions, your decisions and everything. What seems to be right today will be inconsequential tomorrow. Never take important decisions driven by emotions. Back them with logic. The plans might change every fortnight, just need to understand which one is worth thinking about.
7. Think and analyze.
It is important to think about decisions. about situations. Analyze them. That’s the way to learn from them. Don’t just see, start observing.
8. You are here to make a career. Make one.
Prioritize. Give time and understand what you need to get out of college life. Where do you see yourselves a couple of years after college. Enjoyment, friends, etc. will exist only if you make it worth it. You might not enjoy every subject or any subject at all. Make a choice. Either quit or sail through. Stop lingering around like a loser. Things will change and friends will leave. No one will shed a tear for you. I accepted this reality in the first year itself. Whatever may come, my logic had to defy my emotions. This is my threshold and I knew it. I have made this choice, whatever may happen, I had set a minimum bar for myself.
9. Make a choice. Learn to say No.
I worked very hard for first two years for events and college festivals. I have learned a lot from organizing. It has developed my personality, gave me different perspectives to see things. I met great seniors and batch-mates, made good friends. Events, festivals that I have organized have a very special place in my heart, Those are memories, great memories.
I realized that no one will ever ask you to stop working and enjoy the life outside. If I volunteer to work every time I’ll keep working. I had to put brakes somewhere, I had to decide this is it. It didn’t matter to me what my friends or seniors had to say about me. I had always worked with full sincerity for something I have shouldered and I’ll continue to. Keeping aside time for personal self is important as well. You and others are here to learn. If you keep on saying yes, the others will never get a chance. A good leader also needs to learn to be a good follower. I started saying ‘No’ for something I didn’t enjoy doing. I have done things I wanted to and I have been at peace.
10. Things here are temporary and probably not for a lifetime.
That’s one hard fact that hit me in my final year. There are so many memories attached to this place. So many. Endless laughter, useless discussions, heated arguments, friendly banters, sarcastic jokes, etc. The classes we bunked to sip a cup of tea in the canteen, classes we bunked to do some organizing work, classes we bunked because a friend was sad, classes we bunked just for the sake of it. I was here for four years and they flew by. Do everything you can while you are here. I had a bucket list, some boxes are still unchecked.
Learn to move on. It is hard, it is. Detach. People might not remember you the next time you visit the college. Doesn’t matter. What matters is when you’ll visit college for a reunion after a few years, how many eyes will sparkle after seeing you. That’s what matters, that’s something that counts. I might not have made an impact on college history, but I sure in my time was a good part of it. I have enjoyed my time here. And now however hard it may be, I have to move on. People come here to learn. Let them. Share your experiences when they matter and when they are sought.
11. Have no regrets.
There are somethings that I wish I could do, there are somethings I wish I hadn’t done. But more or less I do not have any regrets. And that’s the way college life should end.
I wish I could have said some words, one last time. Transitions are tough. They really are. You wish to do things but you can’t. You make a bucket list, fill it with tasks you hope to accomplish. Transitions are tricky. So many words to be said and yet somethings are probably best left unsaid.
The golden era of everyone’s life is college they say. My golden era in that sense has probably ended. VNIT, that place will be dear to me till I die. I am really excited at the same time to embark on a new journey ahead as a Young India Fellow. Leaving one college to enter another albeit for just one year with new people to make new friends and create new memories.
But this is it. Those were the best days of my life.
As I enter the campus, many things have changed and yet some are still the same. The vibrant green colour spread across and the youthful laughs brings back a horde of memories. The guard in blue uniform, giving me a puzzled look asks where do I intend to go. I with a smile of my face say nowhere but jogging probably. He looks at my face filled with content and joy. He looks at my attire. I’m all ready wearing a tracksuit, sports shoes ready to go inside. As I take my first step a tsunami gushes through my head. I start to run and as I run so do the thoughts in my head. I run and run. Images flash through my head in no particular sequence. Memories, all memories. It is all nostalgia. Sweat oozes out and trickles down my face. Some thing’s probably stuck in my throat. I want to get it out but I cannot. I reach a place, tired. I remember what it is. More images flash through as I stop. I climb up with my tired feet and sit down gazing nowhere. Sweat still oozing out and trickling down. Throat in pain and eyes filled with tears. Oh! I am speechless. It is all hazy. Oh, my mind takes me back to that sunset at Chapora. In this intermingling of past and present, I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed.