The past month and a half seems to have simultaneously been excruciatingly slow and overwhelmingly fast in passing. College feels like home at times, but very distant and alien in certain moments of insecurity. I must say that all in all, college has been treating me well. Everyday presents a new opportunity and every opportunity- big or small- is a wholesome learning experience in itself.
I came to Delhi- or ‘Dilli’, as I prefer to call it; yes, the city has my heart- with a promise to challenge myself, dip my toes in all waters- scalding or freezing- and learn new things. I have lately been coercing myself to do things that make me uncomfortable; I have been trying to be against-the-grain, talk to people who intimidate me and talk about things that scare me. My time at Jaipuria prepared me to push myself. Now seems to be the time to put my preparation to test.
Perhaps performing a piece of slam poetry I wrote was a first small step for me. Pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines for ‘Ignite’ has taught me the importance of writing from the heart and not the brain and that’s what I did- I wrote about something that was personal to me; I wrote about something that impassions me. People liked it. I’m recognised among the freshers for my poetry and that’s very encouraging. English classes in school were always conducive to creativity; I think that’s why the thought of writing and performing slam poetry for an internal assessment wasn’t daunting to me.
In keeping with my promises to myself, I try to diversify my interests and abilities each chance I get. I register for seminars and lectures happening in and around campus. I have joined a lot of societies. A LOT of them- 14, to be precise. These range from the Informal Discussions Group to the Leadership Cell, the Environment Society to the Social Service League, the Planning forum to of course, the History Society- and a lot more. Of these, those related to theatre and writing enthuse me the most. I think drafting brochures for SAJMUN and my experience on the Editorial team of ‘Ignite’ helped me become part of the Editorial Board for the History Society’s blog (‘Historically Speaking’, find us on WordPress) and annual journal (‘Tarikh’)– Entries from Jaipurians are invited!
I have also taken to active Social Service, and truly, it is changing my worldview each day. I volunteer in the Evening Classes, in which college students volunteer to teach the children of the non-teaching staff of St. Stephen’s College. I teach Hiya, she’s in Kindergarten and she loves to draw, has trouble counting from 60-100 and is adept in writing the cursive alphabet!
Evening Classes are emotionally taxing. Each day, they make me aware of my privilege. They are simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching.
Hiya and I are going to work on practicing her art next week onwards. I’ve saved to buy her some art supplies.
While Evening Classes are emotionally draining, ‘Aadibhav’, the street play vertical of our theatre group, ‘Sabha’, drains me physically each day. The rigorous three-hour long practice continues till 7 pm each evening. We begin with physical warm up- running, stretching, dancing to calm our nerves, a round of relay followed by vocal exercises (I’m still trying to learn how to speak ‘from the stomach’, but I’m sure we’ll get there soon) and finally, we practice the play we’re simultaneously writing. It feels empowering when people stop to watch us perform. I can’t wait to take to the streets and perform outside Metro Stations and colleges across the country. Dramatics allows me to stay connected to my emotions, and I think that helps my mental health.
As problematic as this may sound, I enjoy the exhaustion that comes with all of this. I’m reminded of all the running around we had to do for events at Jaipuria School.
I begin a research-based internship with Harvard this week. I had my eye on working with Harvard all this while and now that I’m only two days away from beginning this new journey, I’m excited for the learning that is in store for me.
College has been a roller coaster. There are days when I talk to EVERY person I cross paths with, and there are days when I spend hours in the library, scouring the 90,000 books that I have the privilege of accessing at my whim. Most days, I vigorously scribble notes in class but I’m also guilty of sleeping in lectures behind a tall person occasionally. I have to submit two essays in the coming two weeks- one of which is to supposed be at least 10,000 words long. I haven’t yet started. I have to prepare for a World Wildlife Federation/UN Environment Training-cum-Competition I have registered in. I have about a million Political Science readings to complete this week but it’s all okay. Jaipuria School gave me the space to be multiple people all at once, it allowed me to falter and miss deadlines but also to meet them and respect them, it allowed me to shout and remain silent, it also allowed me to live life on my own terms and stand up for myself when needed. It taught me that life was one big balancing act.
I think college demands all of this from you, and if you don’t give it willingly, college will extract this from you and it’ll be a brutal process. I’m happy I was ready for the former.
College is unsettling but easy, maybe that’s because of how reformative my last two years in school were. That is why, it’s all okay.
Trust your person. Trust your preparation.
Trust the process.
By Abhishree Swarup
Batch – 2018-19
Pursuing History (Major) at St. Stephen’s College