Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts on College (2)

I haven’t written anything for a long time. Nothing voluntarily and happily, that is. I’ve written an article for an application, a paper for a course. I haven’t written anything that I wasn’t specifically asked or required to write.

College is supposed to be a time of expanding opportunities, right? It’s supposed to be a time for experimentation, for growth and development of the mind. It’s supposed to be the time when I start trying to become the person that I want to be. At least, that’s what I wanted college to be. I wanted to find things to love and be passionate about; I wanted to try new quirky activities that may or may not lead up to something; I wanted to learn more, about my subject and others, about people, about the world. I wanted to wake up and go for classes that I genuinely found interesting and enjoyed. I wanted to spend my days with interesting people who make me the better off for knowing them. I wanted to spend wild nights with friends, at the beach, or at my apartment, having the most fun I could have.

But college didn’t exactly turn out to be that. Some of my classes are interesting; some of the professors seem to genuinely care about teaching and their subjects. But the thought of the “future” generally makes me panic. I don’t know whether or not I’ll like a “career” in economics. I don’t even know what such a “career” would entail. And because thoughts of what is still a far-away time for me make me panic, I try not to think them at all. I avoid and I distract and I tell myself that I have enough time to worry about the future in the future, that I don’t need to be thinking and deciding and worrying now.

I did meet interesting people, but I found that I have a lot to learn about talking to people. I can’t talk to different people- I always run out of things to say. I’ve met many “social” people, the kind who can walk into a classroom knowing no one and walk out with five peoples’ numbers and plans to meet up with three of those people later. I can’t do that, and it bothers me. My friend circle is entirely Indian, and living in Singapore, that really cannot be a good things.

My wild nights did work out. I’ve been out dancing all night, I’ve been on long walks with good friends, I’ve had deep, meaning-of-life-and-existence-of-God conversations (with or without copious amounts of alcohol); I’ve been to a couple of the really wild “college parties” you see in movies. I’m mostly happy with my social life.

What scares me the most is that I’m really not growing the way I had thought I would. I’m not doing twenty different activities outside of school, I’m not working student jobs to meet people and make some money, I’m not reading about different things, I’m not watching anything very different. In many ways, after a year of college, I’m the same person that I was before college. And that is not how I wanted things to be.

That’s why I love coming home. It’s not just meeting my family and old friends. Every time I come home, I spend time thinking: evaluating what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. A friend asked me once whether this was a habit with me: thinking about my life to change it for the better. I told him that it wasn’t really. All this thinking started after I came to college and realised that everything that I wanted is not exactly right there and easy for me to get. So, every couple of months, when I come home to Delhi, get some space from the school and the people and everyday life in general, the doubts about that get pushed down by the demands of that everyday life resurface. I spend time thinking and evaluating and talking to my friends, and I go back to college “rejuvenated”. I go back with fixed “short-term goals” and plans to achieve those goals.

And every time I do get back to Singapore after a week or a month or more of being home, I find that it’s not that easy to remember those goals. It’s not that easy to have them at the back of your mind. College saps energy, even when I don’t have that much work. I find it hard to summon enough energy and initiative to write out something I’ve been thinking about because it’s just so much easier to spend that free hour watching Bones or Grey’s Anatomy for the millionth time. It’s hard to generate any interest in the book on Pearl Harbour that looked so interesting when I found it in the library, because it’s so much easier to just reread The Beekeeper’s Apprentice for the millionth time. It’s hard to make that long overdue call to an old friend because it’s just so much easier to call that college friend with whom I don’t have to fear those awkward conversation pauses that come after three months of no contact.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten around to writing this either. I did spend the entire past week at home without much work, and not too many people to meet, and didn’t write a single word. If I hadn’t been stuck at the airport with a delayed flight, a boring book and a headache that prevents me from listening to music, this piece might have been pushed to the back of my mind, added to the ever-growing list of Things to Do that somehow, I never have the time to get around to actually doing.


Unmana said...

Never-ending lists, writing down goals that are never achieved... all sounds familiar. All the best with yours, and thanks for making me want to go back to work on mine.

Sumedha said...

Thanks for the best wishes. :) I do hope I manage to achieve at least a couple of the simpler goals I've set.

wild iris said...

hey there! So I've finally gotten around to visiting your blog after the comment you left on mine AGES ago--sorry about that! But yeah, this post reminds me so much of myself. College really wasn't what I'd hoped it would be for me either...but then, what in life really does happen the way you picture it? Precious little...I guess all we can do is make the most of what we have :)

Sumedha said...

@Wild Iris: Thanks for visiting. :) And you're right, many many things don't really go according to plan, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The unexpected could be good, right? :)

TheTallMan said...

I like the post :)

Is college really about expanding opportunities? Isn't it more of just having a good time, or rather one of the best times of your life? The way I see it, college is all about fun. The growing up, maturity, experience, wisdom- they all come along with it.

And are you sure you are the same person you were a year ago? I've known you only for a year, and I disagree. We all change. Sometimes, you just can't see it.

P.S. I just felt like commenting :P

Sumedha said...

@TheTallMan: I'm glad you like the post. :) I don't think college is all about having fun. That's a very, very important part of college, but not all there is to it. I want to start working towards becoming the person that I want to be, and the maturity, growing up, experience is all part of that. I want to learn new things and do new things and... just become someone that I want to be.

And yes, I'm definitely not the same person I was a year ago (in fact, I'm trying to write about that now). In many ways, I've changed, I know that. But there are many ways in which I wanted to change, and I haven't been able to. That's what worries me.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyable post. I didn't have much of a social life at the beginning of college and I discovered that it helped me because I sat and read in my room. Later, the social life came too, though nothing as 'happening' as yours, but by then, I'd learnt to keep to myself when I wanted to work. And this work, I still find rewarding.

Sumedha said...

@Anon: I enjoy having a very active social life. It's not as "happening" as it may seem.... most nights, I just end up hanging out in someone's apartment, or going for a walk or something. The clubbing and the drinking are once-in-two-weeks occurrences. And I do have enough time to myself, to spend in my room, read if I want. I just find it hard to summon enough energy to actually be interested in a book, and I hate that. The last book I read was The Lost Symbol, and that was when I was at home. Somehow, reading comes automatically when I'm at home, but it's so hard when I'm in college.

The ability to not hang out and go for walks when I have work is something that I really need to learn. Maybe it's because I don't actually find my work as rewarding as you find yours: not doing it is so much more fun than doing it. :(

Annonn said...

Saying college is ALL about having fun is an excuse. I agree with sumedha to an extent. For me, its like a stepping stone - a stepping stone to the person I want to be, realizing who I am and what I want. Sure, it is the best time you will have in your life (for all you fags who will grow old faster than me), but college - frankly from what I see it as, is the place where you make it or break it.