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“I Wasted 3 Years Of My Life”: 7 Things I Wish I’d Done Differently In College

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By Moin Mubarak:

A year had passed. I was standing in front of a huge gate. A gate through which I must’ve passed hundreds of times while flashing my ID to the guard, jostling through the morning crowd, and rushing towards the classes I had no interest in taking. I stood by the gate of my college, reminiscing about the three years I spent there. It felt strange. But not for what it ideally would’ve. Instead of being overwhelmed by a mammoth recollection of memories, I was underwhelmed. I couldn’t recollect any memory. The building felt like a monument which I stared at without an ounce of emotion.

“I wasted three years of my life.” This is exactly what I thought after that moment. But now, almost a year after that day, I look back and ask myself, “Did I really not learn anything in those years?” Here is how I would do it differently:

1) Participate In Activities

I didn’t participate in any of the activities in college. I looked down upon everything as being insignificant and uncircumstantial. I failed to see the opportunity it gave me to practice and try different activities. Numerous societies, though not the top ones in the university, were good enough to give me a taste of different activities and decide which ones I liked.

2) Work Hard For What You Want

I had a strong sense of entitlement and felt cheated upon for not getting me into a top college which I thought I deserved to be in. (Hint: I didn’t work very hard for it.). It reminds me of an entire chapter in Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” which talks about how we feel entitled to things we haven’t worked to get. How I wish it had been written before I started college!

3) Be Honest With Yourself

Honesty. I spent an entire year enrolled in the debating society, and all I did was organise debates. Not even once did I actually take part in one. ‘I’m gathering experience by watching others and I’d start doing it by the time I’d be ready’ was how I consoled myself. It’s been two years, I’m still not ready.

4) Expand Your Comfort Zone

Going to every place that allows you in with a student ID. Fests, concerts, quizzes, events, whatever, wherever it is. Expand your comfort zone. See what works for you, what you’re good at. Try the stupidest things and fail as much as you can. Embarrass yourself. This is what I’d tell myself if I could go back.

5) See A Therapist, If You Need To

Seek help if you need to. This is the part I struggled with the most. Getting help from others is sometimes the best thing you could do to yourself. For me, it was a therapist that I went to for help. She was a very warm, calm and intelligent woman with a charming personality, who very eloquently started the conversation. Half an hour into it, we were like best friends. I was diagnosed with depression which I thought the doctor was exaggerating. I spent most of time wondering if my depression was real or if it was being incorrectly diagnosed. I had in-depth conversations with her about various things, relevant and irrelevant. We discussed philosophy (mainly existentialism), life, relationships, career, and anything I could think about.

However, my reluctance towards counselling made way into a conversation. I asked her if I was making up problems in my head and if I actually needed to see a therapist. I wondered if people were supposed to figure things out on their own. She simply asked me if I felt I had a problem and if counselling helped me. I answered in the affirmative and, I got my answer. She addressed my irrational notions and assumptions, and over time, shred them into pieces. I could write pages about the positive experience, and the bottom line still would be – seek help if you need it, it’s worth it.

6) Defeat The Anxiety

Don’t let your anxiety stop you. Never forget to breathe. Use apps like Headspace to meditate. It’s very convenient.

7) Wherever You Are, Be All There

We face many choices at the beginning of college life. Some of us get through well while others don’t make the cut. Sometimes we don’t get what we want, and other times we take what we get for granted. Many of the above points at some point may have been regrets but now slowly they’re changing to lessons from the past.


Image source: Prasad Gori/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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