2022 Note: Since first published, 500+ folks have read this little piece of mine and a handful reached out with words of kindness. It has reassured many that they're not alone in their journey. I will preserve it to continue the positivity, celebration and camaraderie over the years despite the (now) cringe-factor the post holds.
Congratulations, you finally did it! This is your first blog post.
You write this under a self-imposed quarantine. The COVID Lockdown has slowed down the pace of life, and allowed you to think. And as you reflect over the last couple of years there are some strange, but welcome, realizations that dawn upon you. I want to use this space to note down some of these realizations and I will organize them based on “areas” of your life, so that you can refer back to them one day and see how far you’ve come.
You graduated school in 2017, and god it really sucked. Took you a long time to survive the slow torture, it was a nightmare and the ride here was harsh and painful. A few of your teachers were distasteful and abusive and almost drove you to contemplate suicide. But always remember that you braved it, and that you will never look back to this part of your life. Those marksheets mean nothing to you and so far, they haven’t meant anything to anyone else either. Except your Mom and Dad, they’re still really disappointed.
You’re really passionate about music and audio, and you helped start many companies in this area. You did a great job. You met tons of new people and made lifelong friends. Doing so honed your people skills, technical skills and gave you your first glimpse of the world outside of the confines of your parents’ house. You haven’t figured everything out, you’re still exploring. The only thing you’re certain about in life is that you want to make a difference at the intersection of design and technology, and that’s good enough for now.
You’re a mechanic. You broke a lot of stuff (rip poor toaster), but you also fixed them. In some cases, you made them better. You conjured up servers from old discarded laptops and you pulled broken relays from junk to make them into smart devices! You had FUN!
You weren’t a big fan of college when it started, you HATED it. Truth is, your attendance in the first semester was barely into the double digits. Barely. The whole “sketching” and “painting” thing didn’t stick to you, and you bunked as many classes as you could to get the fuck away from work. In hindsight, it was a mistake. You didn’t really do justice to that time by using it elsewhere, and it ran by really quick.
As time passed, however, you recovered. Quite a lot changed. You came across other people in the industry, admired their work and were able to form a clearer picture of where you want to be and what you want to do. Over time, the people in college that you despised earned your respect, and you started striving to earn theirs. Your classmates became your supporters and your extended family.
You started to set a higher quality bar for yourself, and you decided to not settle for “good enough”. You either put in the work, or you don’t. It’s a binary choice. The latest thing you learnt is to value progress over perfection, and to capitalize on the momentum that progress brings with it. After months of practising your craft you made a resume, cobbled up a portfolio and have just landed an internship at a really successful startup.
You’ve come a long way. Take a deep breath.
You hated your life. There wasn’t much to it anyway, to begin with. You weren’t a fan of movies, sports didn’t interest you much (did get into basketball for a bit, but your peers were way better than you so got frustrated pretty quick). You really enjoyed playing a select few video games, but you didn’t find the others all that interesting.
Between 2016-2018, your “hobbies” were non-existent. The stress of school, exams and work really took it’s toll and your life started falling apart. You found a companion in some stray cats, and they became an anchor for your sanity. You treated them as your own, shared meals and kept them from harm. You learnt compassion and empathy from them, which eventually overpowered your rude and obnoxious behaviour.
At some point during 2018, you decided that enough was enough. You were a designer, and you would design your life to be the way you wanted it to be, not the way someone else wanted to make it. You started identifying aspects of your life that you weren’t content with, and you found ways to change that. There were some extreme measures that had to be taken for it to happen, but you went ahead and did it anyway. I am extremely proud of you for that.
You started taking finance seriously, no impulsive spending. You adopted minimalism, though it’s still an ongoing process. You hated most of your clothes so you gave 90% of your wardrobe to people who needed it more. You left your obsessive landlord and moved out of your house. Where to? Nowhere. You don’t need a “house”, you carry all your essential possessions in a single backpack which comes with you everywhere you go.
Your physique has not seen much improvement over these years, but you shouldn’t give up! You have taken many steps in the right direction though. Your sleep routine is on track. On most days you sleep at around midnight and you’re up by 6, latest by 7.
You try and keep your breakfast consistent. You love the Cold Bournvita at Brahmani and would pick that over any Starbucks/CCD coffee. You never let a day go by without a couple of glasses of Could Bournvita and your overall tolerance towards milk and milk products has improved dramatically. During this lockdown, you have realized you like eating curd with a lot of dishes! Mom was right all along!
You have freed your brain. You realized that your brain mirrors the processor of a computer and not the storage drive. You use it to generate ideas and not store them. You offload unnecessary info from your brain onto your journal or computer. It has done wonders to your mental health and you feel far more relaxed now.
Your posture has deteriorated quite a bit from working all these long hours, and you should take your professors advice and work on correcting it before it gets too late. Start by listening to that twitter guy and periodically reminding yourself to keep your back straight.
Where to, next?
As your own learnings over the last few months have shown you, there’s a lot more of the world still left to see. You’re already planning for the future, and that’s a good thing! However if and when it gets overwhelming sometimes, don’t hesitate to take a step back. You don’t have to plan every single detail of your life, and what fun would it be without some spontaniety? Never feel guilty about having fun, it’s a necessary part of life that you seem to not value sometimes.
Also know that you are not in this alone, and that you never were. Your friends and family have both been by side whenever you have needed them, and they will always be.
Keep up the great work!
Siddharth, at 20.