It was 2008, a sixth-grader in her history class in a city school made up her mind to become an archaeologist after she learned about Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Since then, she has never set another goal for herself. She knew what she wanted to be and she let no other voice change her mind. Years went by, against the wishes of many around her, she stood her ground and took up Humanities rather than the societal favourite, Science.
Shy and introverted by nature, it took her a lot of courage to stand her ground all these years, however, eventually, she made it to one of the top universities in the country for her Master’s. Life seemed to finally fall into place, as she decided her future course of research. But then 2020 happened.
Yep, that is my story. I was one of the lakhs of students who graduated with a major degree in the fateful year of 2020. What began as a short lockdown of 21 days happened to change my life in a way like never before.
2019 seemed like the most disturbing year for my peers and me, with the continuous attacks on educational spaces and other political issues in general, our academics nearly came to a halt. After a long struggle, we were pretty excited to be back to the classes and were looking forward to our last semester of MA, which comprised intense research work. With the blueprint of my fieldwork ready on paper, I was all set to start working on-field. It was March 2020.
With the crisis looming near, I hurried back to my hometown with just my necessities. Within a week, from having an elaborate plan of conducting my research, I had to finish the rest of my MA with just my laptop and no books and freedom to go outside. For the first time, I was unsure of what I was doing. Not denying my privileges, I finished writing my research dissertations with the available theoretical sources, still optimistic.
What followed, shattered my self-confidence completely. The government said that students should continue studying and so should all the entrance examinations be held. After 15 hours of effort every single day and a head full of dreams, I had consecutive failures in every single exam I appeared for. For an independent-minded woman in her mid-twenties, who never listened to anyone but herself for her own life choices, the prophecies of all those who said she would never succeed seemed to come true.
I did an internship from home, yet I did not feel satisfied. I desperately started searching for other paid internship opportunities. As luck would have it, I got one that paid me 15k a month and trauma for life. The toxic work environment made matters worse. I finally left that place after 4 months of struggling with severe stress, anxiety, and consecutive panic attacks every other day.
The second wave took my remaining peace of mind, and that’s when I decided to head back home, this time with all my belongings, for the time being. After a year and a half amid the pandemic and deteriorating mental health, I finally decided to take things slow and easy. The sixth-grader in that History class back in 2008 could not have even fathomed anything even near to the reality in 2021, and I am nowhere near to where I dreamt I would be in my 20s.
But, desperate times need desperate measures, and I have accepted the fact that my dreams are going to be on hold for some time now, but the most important thing right now is to survive and believe in a better future, either with some professional help or otherwise.