I don’t think I was too invested in a study routine during school. It was only when the exams loomed that I picked up my books or felt any nervous anxiety. Happy in my own world of books, music and a few close friends, I could never bring myself to fret over what I felt was a tedious test of memory and writing.
The first defining moment came after class 10, when I had to decide on an academic stream. Imagine my confusion – a 17-year-old girl being asked to decide what she wanted to do for the rest of her life within the limited options available as per her CGP scorecard.
The decision to opt for the science stream turned out to be a tightrope walk I could never master – never being able to keep up with what was expected, losing my self-confidence after each successive class test. Switching over to humanities in class 12 was, therefore, depressing and almost akin to accepting my limitations.
Little did I know that what began as a compromise would be the best decision of my life! I thoroughly enjoyed studying, but in terms of performance, I was a little above average. I had resigned myself to an above average performance during the board exams.
The high cut-offs were also intimidating. Getting into the much sought after Delhi University, was in fact, a distant dream. I knew my efforts were last minute, but giving up and flunking wasn’t the solution either, right? For better or for worse, school was over. I was awaiting the results.
To my utter shock and surprise, I secured 95% in my class 12 boards! I was dumbstruck and overwhelmed. A 95% would mean a lot to anybody but was super special only for a girl who had lost belief in herself. More good news followed. I got to know that I cleared the entrances I prepared for. At this moment, the world felt like my oyster and my confidence was at an all-time high. I was the star in the family gatherings and the ‘Sharma ji ka beta‘ comparison game stopped for a few days.
However, the happiness was short-lived. The cut-offs were out and I realised that despite getting a good score, getting into my dream college and course would be one horrifying ride. This is exactly what happened. Despite a decent score, I couldn’t get either the course or college of my choice. I was passionate about English but had to settle for history. I also felt a little angry. While I was struggling to get a seat, it seemed to me that admissions were a cakewalk for those belonging to reserved categories. Younger and less mature than I currently am, I felt extremely hurt and angered by the situation.
More time passed, and it didn’t just heal all wounds but made me realise a few things too. I realised why reservation could not be called evil in its entirety, why it was needed in an age where the SC/ST and OBC communities are still being exploited. In time, I even made friends and joined some societies.
Two years have gone by and brought with them an unfathomable change. I have done some good things and some bad ones. Yet, in these two years of college, I have learnt a lot. I have made mistakes, learnt from them and matured as a result. The journey has been one hell of a roller-coaster ride, one that has definitely made me wiser. These years have taught me a lot about life and they will teach you everything about life too.
I now understand that although getting good marks means a lot, not scoring well does not spell the end of the world either. There are plenty of people out there, who are more talented than the ones who get 99% and also make a place for themselves. Those who dare to think and dream differently. The system is not fair and will never be. The only thing you need to keep is faith in yourself. Believe me, it can take you places. The faith that life would work out for you as it did for me. Let’s keep faith, hope and let’s never stop dreaming.
Zoya Bhatt is an intern with Youth Ki Awaaz for the batch of February-March 2017.