Next Step: Free-Fall

23/12/2014 7:52 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

They say it's the end of an era. That nothing's going to be the same, and we're going to look back and yearn for this time. Perhaps, they're right. I'm afraid they might be.

With people landing placements and internships, and talking about GREs, I know it's already begun. Things are changing. And a lot of us find ourselves trying to hold onto something familiar, something comfortable. Personally, it took me long enough to get accustomed to college to begin with, and now I'm expected to trade that in for something entirely new. It is exhilarating, and it is terrifying.

College for me was supposed to be a time for experimentation, and challenge, and opening myself up to new experiences, seeking inspiration that has long eluded me. It is safe to say I might've failed miserably as I write this post after nearly 16 hours of binge watching American sitcoms, and ignoring text messages, but it would also be unfair to say the last three years haven't changed me, perhaps for the better.

A lot of it has to do with the people I met, the friends I made, (and of course, the friends I nearly made), opportunities I took up, and chances I lost. A lot of old superficial layers were shed, and some new veils added. And at the end of three years I find myself different from the bundle of nerves and insecurities I was, just out of school. I find myself judging less, as I get judged less, though it can still be a cruel experience for many.

As the clock ticks away like a time bomb, and the time to realise certain life-long aspirations comes scarily close, a lot of questions come to mind. The only thing certain for me is the uncertainty of it all. Where will I be next year? Will I get into a Masters programme? Will I ever be employable? What if I don't get a job?

Some days, I spend hours agonising over the things I haven't done, the places I haven't seen, and the people I haven't met, and visualise what life would be if this university life was the high point of my existence.

On better days though, when I don't take pleasure in tormenting myself, I come to realise that it's probably not too late to be living the life I envision for myself, even if it comes from unrealistic expectations fabricated by television. Maybe I should stop taking those Buzzfeed quizzes, or maybe I should write more. The point is, all that is standing in my way, is actually just me.

We sometimes goad ourselves into these dramatic existential crises, fuelled by this pressure to live a certain kind of life. Sometimes these breakdowns are justified. Most of the times we justify it to ourselves. We take ourselves too seriously and get carried away, and it is exhausting, to say the least.

I recently read about something called 'The Overview Effect', which put things into perspective for me, at least for a short while. It refers to the paradigm shift experienced by some astronauts in response to the sight of the earth from space. For the first time, they viewed earth as a tiny ball, hanging delicately like a speck of dust in the vast universe, making earth's residents even more insubstantial. I realised that sometimes it is imperative for me to step out of this aura I've created for myself and look at the larger picture from the outside. It helps to fully appreciate that my problems, though important to me, might seem petty in the larger scheme of things, and that makes it easier to deal with them, at least in theory.

I've always been one for nostalgia, and while it's time for me to take the next step towards a lot of 'firsts' from here on, it's also time for a lot of 'lasts', before this chapter needs to be wrapped up. The last time I sit in one of those classrooms (hopefully); the last time I drink coffee on the college lawns, sprawled lazily with my canine friends and of course our human companions; the last college festival, that I honestly didn't care for much, until it dawned on me that there'd be no more, and so much else that has inadvertently made a difference to me.

In the end I suppose it all boils down to the incontrovertible truth - we're all terrified. But we can all find consolation in the fact that somehow, in the end, we'll get by, just like everyone else did.

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