I swear I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This is the story of my school-to-college life and why I think I should have taken a year’s break before college.
In 2013, when ‘school life’ came to an end, I felt quite euphoric stepping out of my school. See, unlike my friends, I dreaded going to school. My brain couldn’t comprehend the patriarchal views my teachers held on to like it was the only thing in the world, barring (very) few teachers of course. So the 18-year-old me wanted to be as far away as possible from this caged environment. Deep down, I knew that there was a whole different world out there, waiting for me with open arms.
When I came back home after my farewell, I looked at myself in the mirror extremely proud to have survived high school, my insecurities with acne and body fat, and most importantly, a bunch of nosy teachers who’d find any chance to screw my life up. At that moment, I felt proud because I knew I was going to college in another, alien, state – something that many would symbolically refer to as a transition from a child to an adult. The thought of moving out of Kerala daunted me because my home state was my comfort zone – amma’s food which was equivalent to her love, a soft bed to sleep on, and 24/7 access to television- but I realised that if I didn’t burst out of my comfort bubble, I would never learn to be ‘the independent woman’ I wanted to be. And there was only one way I could do so – college!
At that point in time, college meant freedom. And freedom meant no surveillance of parents, ‘Tinder’ing, hanging out in the streets at midnight, wearing ‘skimpy’ clothes, guzzling down beer, gold flaking our way to glory, raving it up, having not-so-much responsibilities – basically livin’ the dope-ass, stereotypical college kid life. At least, that’s what Karan Johar claimed in Student of the Year where glitz and glam ruled every college students life. The reality was obviously as different as chalk and cheese. That’s a topic of discussion for another day. But, anyway, all of my friends were excited to pursue courses that their parents chose for them or that was ‘the in thing’ at that point in time such as Engineering. I did not have a clue as to what I wanted to do in life, let alone chose a career path that would decide my future. But, since it was the norm that every student had to go to college, I was mentally forced to choose a subject that I would take up in college. I chose Economics because it was the only subject I got high marks in.
While I was excited to have received the ‘College Acceptance Letter’, deep down I wasn’t quite happy because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. Make no mistake, at 23, I’m so grateful for the 5 years of ‘freedom’ that college gave me. The process of unlearning and learning dictated my life – it made me the person you see today. But, I wished I took a year’s break after school to figure out my future.
If I had taken a sabbatical right after graduating high school, I would have mostly worked as a salesperson, read as many books as possible, pursued a hobby, taught myself self-love, learnt about savings and finance, learnt how to cook – basically, do things that would prepare me for the ‘real’ life. After all, it’s these little things that teach you about life. An Economics textbook will never be able to do that. In the process of learning new skills and improving my social knowledge, I would have mostly ended up making a decision about my future.
After all, you and I only have one life. Why would you waste it by living your parents’ dreams? Why would you force yourself to pursue a course only because it will bring money to your pockets? Why would you not want to be happy? Many Indian parents would go up in arms against the thought of their children taking a year’s break after school because all said and done, they are unnecessarily answerable to the prying eyes of their neighbours and relatives. But, if there was even a slight possibility that my parents allowed me to take a break, I would have.
It would have made me a much better person. It would have given me a sense of direction. The word ‘quarter-life’ crisis would never exist in my dictionary. In fact, maybe I wouldn’t have even chosen to pursue a career in college. Call me crazy, but a sabbatical after school would have meant taking the road less travelled, but it would have made all the difference.