This post is going to be a bit random. One of those kind that I used to write a lot back in college. Come to think of it, the inspiration for this piece comes from my younger college self who wrote about everything from relationships to animals to doing something for the society at large. As I browse through my blog I realize how much I have changed as a person. Am I more mature and well-aware and knowledgeable and patient – a resounding yes! But I am also not as forthcoming, open and intuitive in my writing. My earlier posts were not great pieces by any standard. But, even today when I read them I can’t help but smile. There was an innocence and openness about those posts that I seem to have lost touch with. My words are more measured now and a lot more thought goes into what I say and how I say it. I guess this is what growing up means. But, this trip down memory lane was fun in a strange way. It brought back memories, albeit faded ones, about how I looked at things, people and issues 8-9-10 years ago. I am not one for regrets, but I am also not one who would not want to change some things if given an opportunity. So now that I have set the context, here are some things I wish I could tell the younger, more naive Namrata:
1. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed to be yourself: When I first joined college, I was not quite sure of how to be. Reserved or boisterous, dress up or dress down, talk to people freely or take my time. No matter what option I chose, I was never certain. I guess this is a typical 17 year old problem but I wish someone had told me to not worry so much about how I came across. After all, everyone else around you is of the same age and going through the same things.
2. There is huge world outside of college, don’t forget that: It is very easy to get caught up in college life. Apart from academics, you have college activities, hostel life, new friendships, boys to crush on etc. Living in a college is like living in a bubble. What people say within campus starts becoming more important than it should be and one starts to second judge one’s own instincts. It is thus essential to step out once in a while. Talking to parents or school friends can be a great way to disconnect from college life. Joining a class outside campus or volunteering somewhere can help you make friends who do not go to the same college and are hence insulated from judging you based on any gossip or rumour. Expand your circle and network and I don’t mean on Facebook!
3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; don’t be afraid to apologize: In college, you say tons of stuff – sometimes under peer pressure, sometimes to hide your own insecurities, sometimes for fun – but if it comes to your attention that you hurt someone, say sorry. Making mistakes is part of being human and there is no shame in it. If you feel in your gut that what you did or said was wrong, apologize. Meet the person whom you might have intentionally or otherwise hurt and say sorry. Or, drop an e-mail or text. But do mend fences and say your peace. How the other person chooses to respond is beyond your control but doing the right thing can never be wrong. I distinctly remember doing this in my final year of college and feeling good about it. I wish I had done it sooner though.
4. Don’t be too judgemental College is for many people their first foray into the real world outside the sheltered confines of their home. You will meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. This is the best part about college. So, try to get out of your comfort zone and talk to everyone. If you like someone, become friends irrespective of what anybody else thinks. Try to give time to people before forming an opinion about them. Remember how you would feel if someone were to judge you based on a sporadic event. Also, let go of your biases. Especially those that are insensitive.
5. Make the best of every situation: Despite your best efforts, there will be hiccups in your college journey. You might not do well in a test or get into a fight or fall prey to some nasty rumour. While these incidents will effect you and cause you to drown your sorrows by watching more tv shows than you usually would, learn to look at them a bit more positively. People tend to have short memories so face every challenge head on and don’t bother too much about what others say or think. Your true friends will stick by you no matter what. And if they don’t, you can always burn them with your awesomeness!
6. Don’t take matters of the heart to your heart, so much so that they fill you with negativity. College is very rarely the right place or time to take decisions about love, life and marriage. Sure, there will be exceptions but not every friendship is meant to turn into something more. So, don’t get heartbroken if a relation doesn’t work out or lose sleep if you reject someone’s feelings. Be considerate and honest about other’s feelings but not at the expense of your own.
7. Have more fun: Man, I wish I had had more fun in college. I wish I had let loose and not be reserved. I am not saying being reserved by nature is a bad thing, some people do tend to take more time to come out of their shell. But don’t let that become a recurring excuse. In my case I sometimes held back deliberately, so looking back now I feel an extra dose of recklessness on my college resume wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.
But more than any of the above mentioned points, the one thing I would love to drill into the mind of my younger self would be to cherish every memory. College is a unique experience – unique for everyone who joins with you and grows with you. Take in all those moments – good, bad, sometimes ugly, sometimes exhilarating and bundle them all into a small space in your brain and heart. You might not always need them but knowing that they exist is always a comforting thought. And fodder for posts on your blog!
*All gifs used in this post are courtesy of Giphy.