The crescendo of the music playing in my head reaches its peak as the cab takes a turn towards the gate. Everything I’d pictured and predicted starts to replay in my mind. The sun shining through the canopies illuminating the sights is surely providing some respite to my addled mind. Trying to act cool about one of the, if not the most significant change I’ll ever experience in my life is not a piece of cake, and I’m probably not doing a good job of it either, since my mom and dad put my arm around me. “The feeling is just temporary”, they say. I nod my head, but my mind begs to differ.
The cab comes to a screeching halt and before we know it, we’re here. Seconds turn to minutes, and minutes turn to hours as the formalities run their course. I took a lot of heat for forgetting to bring that one document, but everything is good now. What’s not good is the crisis I’m going through. This place has more people than my entire town. How will I make myself known amidst this barrage of people, all contending to achieve the same goal? Is this going to be another rat race? I’m interrupted by my mom’s voice while plotting out the trajectory of my life here. She says it’s time to go check out my hostel room.
Off we go again; the absolute colossal enormity of this campus is giving me mixed feelings. On the one hand, it means there are far more people here than once thought.On the other hand, it means there’s more space to hide in a corner and not talk to anyone. Well, the jury’s still out on that one. The facade of the building gets clearer and clearer as we move towards it, making it seem like the towering structure is going to open up into the heavens at any moment. We’re greeted by a group of boys coming out of the hostel, all eyeing me like I’m some rare specimen. I do my best to pay no attention to them and summon the elevator. When it felt like the elevator was going to crumble under our weight, it opened to reveal the eighth floor. The corridors feel like those liminal spaces I’ve seen on Instagram. All of the doors look precisely the same, which again begs the question, are the people behind these doors the same, all of them with nothing to set them apart? What canI do to stop myself from getting sucked into this whirlpool of losing my identity? The room puts these thoughts to bed temporarily, it’s tiny, but it seems quite nice. There’s a window looking out to the food court. As I’m coming to terms with my thoughts, dad says that he and mom are going totake off for lunch and leave me here so I can settle in.
I try to put forth a telepathic protest, but I doubt it worked since I’m here, all by my solitary self in this little matchbox of a room. When I thought about it, the prospect of picking up and moving my life to a new place, discovering things about myself I never knew, finding my niche, and going on a mental journey per se seemed appealing, and while I still had second thoughts, coming here and actually manifesting them is far scarier than I could’ve ever imagined. Everyone I’ve met has told me to be outgoing, open to new experiences, and unafraid of anything, but how am I supposed to do that if I forget who I am? I fix my gaze onthe sky, trying to seek some form of guidance or force an epiphany. The sunlight has faded. The bright shining sun that greeted us when we first arrived has now been obscured by clouds and appears to be nothing more than a soldier of fortune. I hear a voice behind me, “Hey, you’re the guy who just moved in right?”. I’m caught off guard as I spin around to meet his gaze; he’s one of the boys we met outside the block. “Sorry for the piercing looks we were giving you” he chuckles, “It’s just something we do to guys who’re new”. Great, I think to myself, yet another nonsensical hostel tradition. “I know you might feel like you’ve crash landed on an alien planet, but trust me, this is a great place and we’re gonna have a blast!” he continues. We? This guy is way too optimistic on every front.
Sun rays fall on the glass of my window, almost blinding my eyes. I find myself once again in the backseat of a cab, this time turning away from the gate. Four years into time, I let out a heavy sigh atthe thought. This time, my mind created a movie based on what I experienced rather than what I expected. Overwhelmed by the feeling of nostalgia hitting me like a bullet, I look back at the eighteen-year-old boy who stepped foot on campus, clueless and unaware of what is about to come. I remember coming up with a well-established idea of who I was and who I would be in college, only to have all that slip away the moment my parents left me alone. In all honesty, I kept trying to keep the idea alive, grasping onto it with all my strength. But day after day, it kept getting fainter as all of my expectations kept turning around, nothing going the way I planned in the detailed movie I orchestrated for my college life.
Amid this great struggle, I discovered that all I needed to do was let go. Let go of the expectations I came with and heartily accept what came along this journey, for these four years were like no other.
Opening up my heart and mind was the only right answer. As I move along to a new journey, I still keep repeating it in my head.
My mind makes a recap movie of the four indescribable years I’ve spent on this campus. The memory of every mundane thing makes me tear up. Who I am today is a compilation of allthese places and the plethora of personalities I’ve made my own.
The people who made me jittery the day I arrived here made me feel at home for the next four years.
”A huge crowd of every single person looking at the same finish line as me, I am bound to lose my identity”, was my first thought here.
Now that I’m leaving, I realize I did lose my identity, but I was fine as long as I didn’t keep grasping onto past ideas of myself. I accepted that I change day by day as I met all of these people in the crowd and realized they are not the same.
I lost my identity, but it gave me the opportunity to create one from scratch, and to my surprise, I think I’m proud of the end result. In losing myself, I found myself here.
Written by Jahnavi Singh and Chaitanya Pandey for MTTN
Edited by Agnes Chiramal for MTTN
Featured Image by Ayan Sharma for MTTN