Most of us have seen ‘adulting’ memes that are all over the internet today. These memes are often made in the context of the tonnes of newly added responsibilities in the lives of college students and our inability to handle them. While we laugh at these memes and share them on social media, we tend to ignore the subtext which is our struggle to deal with these responsibilities.
I am talking about ‘adulting memes’ because they don’t just represent a small section of college going students. A majority of us are always perplexed by how hard and challenging college can be, because the idea of college life is extremely glorified in movies and books. People seldom talk about the reality – all the extra work we have apart from academics, living independently (somewhat, since most of us aren’t financially independent in college) and basically, taking care of things that our parents had covered for us throughout our school life. Moreover, many students, like me, move from their comfortable little houses for the first time, to an entirely different place. Their struggle isn’t just limited to aiming for a high GPA or managing an account balance.
My journey was relatively pleasant. I easily got admission in English honours at Christ University without much fuss or running around. I don’t think I was as grateful for it at that time as I should have been, considering it’s rare for students to smoothly get both the college and course that they aim for. However, that didn’t mean I bypassed struggling altogether. I had only travelled to Bangalore once in my life when I was two years old, but this time I was moving there, all alone, for at least three years.
My first year at college was certainly something I will never forget, and perhaps it’s something that no one ever does, for a good reason. From struggling to meet all deadlines for the internal assessment tests to exploring the busiest cafes and hip places around the city, to making new friends – it was the first time that I had to face the city all by myself, with the added pressure to enjoy my life. For the first time, settling down didn’t just mean making friends and looking after academics. My parents were no longer with me to guide me through a busy schedule or make sure that my meals and travelling were looked after.
Thankfully, Bangalore is a great place to be. The people are warm and welcoming and the weather is perhaps the most pleasant it can be anywhere in the country. But none of that matters when your clothes don’t dry in time for you to wear them the next day, or when you realise that even missing a single class reduces your attendance by a large margin. Suddenly, nobody takes you for a child anymore (because you are not one). No one makes attempts to empathise with your situation and accommodate and coax you at every step of the way.
I remember vividly how shocked I was when I boarded the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) for the first time. Despite its brilliant service, BMTC is always cramped with hundreds of people who are too busy to look for your foot, or at times, even your whole body. I realise it’s not a huge deal since I am accustomed to the bus services now. But it was extremely difficult to get used to it at first, as were most everyday activities despite the fact that I was an 18-year-old adult.
But it isn’t about the age, it’s about finally facing responsibilities as an individual. In India, most parents closely regulate what their children do and don’t do till high school ends, and for some, even throughout college. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but college often becomes the breaking point since most children aren’t eased into taking charge of their life and are abruptly bombarded with responsibilities. It’s similar to how some people aren’t encouraged to date throughout their life and are supposed to find someone to marry before they turn thirty.
But from being a part of national level seminars to finally taking part in a pride festival, at 18, I found me some extra courage. Realising the need to grow up, moving out of home and starting college life allowed me to be so much more than what I had thought of myself. It allowed me to finally meet some of the most beautiful people in my life.
This doesn’t mean that this new life doesn’t continue to surprise me now and then, both in a positive and negative manner. The only difference between my past self, who was first entering an institution completely alone and vulnerable, and who I am now, is that I have the courage to face it. I laugh out loud at self-deprecating yet relatable memes about facing life by myself, take rest when I am nearing my saturation point. And I think that’s a great place to be in.