(More of a personal outlet than a blog entry, go ahead if you possess the patience. Or if you are plain bored.)
There comes a time in everybody’s life, when the world makes absolutely no sense. When you are consumed with existential questions, and when you question your entire life and everything in it. When you can say that you’ve come close to living a life, because you’ve witnessed versions of yourself, more than what you thought were possible. When you find yourself surrounded by people, but deep in your heart you are alone. You’re no one. (Arya Stark, anyone?)
I have never really understood myself completely. Confession #1.
Throughout my adult life (which has actually been only 5 years), I have hopped from one interest to another, trying to figure out the perfect blend of what is it that makes me tick. I have loved music, dance, writing, teaching, math and anything creative. I was also good academically. But among all these, what was my calling? What was I supposed to do in life? These questions continued to plague me, as I sat for one engineering exam after another, always studying at the last moment, happy to be mediocre, content not to excel. To be honest, I did not completely realize the importance of those years, because my life was good! Good college, good friends, good food and the promise of a bright future! I did not stop to think.
This struggle continued to engulf me even as I gave job interviews. I thought I wasn’t good enough. But the truth is, I did all of this so halfheartedly that I don’t even blame them for not selecting me. Finally, I did manage to find the perfect job for me and it translated into a smooth ride for another 2 years. Fractal has helped me find my footing in the independent world, and I will always be grateful for the experiences it provided me with. However, notwithstanding the awesomeness of Fractal, somewhere I felt hollow. I felt like I could do much more, that my skills and abilities could be put to use somewhere else, where there is actually a need.
I love teaching, and I especially love teaching kids. Confession #2
All this while, a huge part of me was engaged with an NGO that everyone I know must have heard its name from me- Make A Difference. Teaching is that one thing which gives me immense satisfaction and joy, and I feel like I have made good use of my time. With MAD, I started to see how interested today’s youth is, in solving challenges of the country, at the same time, how much more requires to be done to enable them to do so, and to bring awareness about some of the problems thwarting our education system.
I started looking at career options in Education, and while the quintessential option of taking private tuition was always open, I wanted to do something bigger, something that would add value to my life. I also was looking at higher education in this sector, because I realized that just an engineering degree isn’t going to suffice if I am seriously considering a career in the field.
I applied to Teach for India (TFI), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Young India Fellowship (YIF).
I had no clear idea why I applied to these three organizations, at the time. Confession #3
But with time, I got accepted into all three. The toughest choice was to choose between TFI and TISS. And guess what I chose? Both.
Yes, I have undertaken a Herculean task. I am going to pursue my Masters in Elementary Education from TISS and I am going to simultaneously be a Fellow at Teach for India. Seems insane, right? It feels that way too. Everyone I spoke to has highlighted how difficult it is going to be, and how it’s going to ask for sacrifices on my personal front. But at the same time, a few have reassured me that I can do it, and I should not lose heart before starting out. How this worked out for me is the fact that my MA course is especially designed for people who work and hence has only 1 month per semester on campus, while the rest is distance. And while I am on distance learning, I can also simultaneously teach at a low income school in Mumbai and get to experience life as a teacher in so many different ways.
And yet, I have no clue how am I going to manage both these things together. Confession #4
(Let’s do a double whammy) I am not even 100% sure if I made the right decision by quitting a well paying comfortable job so early in my career. Confession #5
It’s scary. This journey is already giving me the chills. As I write today, having completed the first month at college, and gearing up for training for Teach for India in Pune, I feel myself questioning where I am in space and time. What about my family, how much will they have to adjust for me? What about my friends, I won’t be able to see them, not even the little that I did see of them earlier. I feel lost, I feel like I am caught up in a whirlpool.
What now? What next? As life keeps reminding me that the clock is ticking, I will be soon exiting the better half of my 20s, and I am still looking for something. A lot of people do tell me, ‘I hope you find what you are looking for’. And yet, I don’t have the slightest idea of what is it that I am looking for. We all do need that sense of purpose I guess, no matter how many Sartres were to take birth and theorize that “existence precedes essence”. (Yaay, my first philosophy joke!)
Since the time I graduated, I have this uneasy feeling that I can’t let go. It has taken a toll on me; the thinking, the helplessness at times, and the warping of emotions. Every time I feel desolate, I ask myself: will I be able to bounce back from here? And somehow, every single time, my heart responds with a resounding yes.
And so folks, there is still hope. Confession #6
That’s the last of my confessions. No matter where I go on from here, I know one day I shall feel proud of the steps I took. I know I am going to end up learning a lot at the end of these two years, and I also know that I will be challenging myself to push my boundaries.
If you’ve managed to stay with me till here, I thank you. For being a part of my life. For being supportive. Do stay with me, till the end.
Now that I have this out of my system, I need to start working on an assignment that’s due tomorrow. Confession #P.S.