A highly-sensitive introvert, completely shielded in school by academics and books, makes her way to one of the top colleges in the country. She is elated, but also nervous. Having survived on mental exertion for years, now was the time for a transformation. How did she fare?
Designing and architecture are taught in the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT). It is an institution where stalwarts of Indian architecture have studied. It had been my dream to study in the prestigious institution for two years. The dream became a reality when I secured admission in the School of Interior Design. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to come out of my shell, break barriers, get embroiled in a web of extra-curricular activities and to reduce the effort I put in studying. Basically, a chance to stop everything I had been doing for the past ten years. A chance to transform. I tried very hard to be part of as many activities as possible For the first three years, I wanted to be a part of everything. Whether it be helping seniors during festivals at odd times or staying back after lectures and whiling away time. Indulging in such activities gives every college student solace.
I gave up my lone time in pursuit of acquaintances. They only drained me and repeatedly made me remember the scary fact that I was different. I would often think to myself – “How could I not want to be here?” After all, I just had five years in this wonderful campus.
I became a machine, whose remote control was seemingly lost. Staying back after classes, sitting under the tree and listening to people became a daily grind. A grind which grounded me further. Unlike my counterparts, running errands for seniors did not make me laugh. I seemed lost.
“Campus is family, campus is home.” This is the thought that strongly dominates most creative campuses. CEPT is no different. You might even get treated as an outcast if you fail to turn up regularly for events. “These events are fun, dude!!! Come on.” I wanted to scream, “They are fun for you, I would love to attend an event which helps me grow. And yes, my family is first.”
As I write, I have a smile on my face, as I have accepted that it’s alright to be different, as long as you know who you are. It took two books on introversion and another book to get my self-confidence back. I earlier used to see myself as a misfit who was wasting the resources of her parents. My mind would visualise a face expressing regret at an opportunity lost.
As I look back at those years today, all I can remember is my tired face, waiting to drop on the bed. Extroversion terrified, drained and taxed me. For an introvert like me, the space I have for myself matters. I haven’t given up completely on my campus, but I haven’t let it dominate my life either. Ever since I accepted that I am different, I have been pursuing my passion and smiling more often. I am not envious or try to be like the ones who stay in campus for the entire day. I now use my campus facilities better too. I make my way to the library irrespective of academic deadlines. I occupy a chair at the corner where I can hide my book behind the shelf. The only thing I envy these days is my inability to strike a perfect balance between my campus and home life.
I had a smiling and confident face and a much better academic performance in the semester in which I accepted myself for who I am. I accomplished much more than I did in my three years. All the external stimuli which had earlier engulfed me, registered in my mind step-by-step and I have found answers to my questions at every step too. I believe that a campus like CEPT, which has a strong identity, should help you to find your own identity and not forget it. I would recommend everyone to not forget themselves while enjoying campus life. I’m not asking someone to not grow. Just do not grow at the cost of your base. If the base gets shattered, the growth above it will follow soon.