Recipe for the college-goers

I am not a follow-the-cook-book-precisely kind of cook so all the quantities prescribed here will be approximate. Adjust to your liking to get your perfect mix.
Ingredients:

  • A pinch of enthusiasm
  • A handful of good friends
  • Lots of patience
  • 5 cups of self-restraint
  • One spoon of determination
  • An unending supply of humour (Self-deprecating is not the only kind)
  • One or two crushes (Optional. Add according to your taste)
  • One teaspoon of gossip (Optional. Add only if you like your life as spicy as your food)

Recipe:

  1. First, use the enthusiasm to make some friends.
  2. Until the enthusiasm trickles down to just a pinch, keep making friends, attend all the orientations and take part in the extra-curricular activities. Make sure you don’t completely run out of enthusiasm because you will need it later.
  3. When the newfound freedom starts overwhelming you and you realize that you are not getting your work done, use your first cup of self-restraint.
  4. When things seem a little bleak and the mixture seems to be all wrong, that’s when you’ll have to throw humour into the mix. Even the most serious situations can seem lighter when you do this.
  5. If you can’t see the humorous side of things, that’s where the handful of good friends who have hung around from the beginning come in. It’s only in difficult situations that you will know who your friends are. And if there is no one then you’ll be glad it’s just you and your sense of humour, buddy.
  6. Add in the patience because it’ll take a while and a spoon of determination along with the pinch of enthusiasm to get back your rhythm.
  7. Enjoy the good times when they finally arrive.
  8. Once you’ve got back your rhythm and the normalcy is boring, throw in the crushes, gossip and drama to make life exciting again as suited to your taste.
  9. When you get tired of the excitement and you face your next low, repeat steps 4 through 8.

To the person who made me fall in love with my smile

To the person who made me fall in love with my smile-

I don’t think you’ve ever seen photos of my younger self, but if you did, you would notice one common feature amongst all of them. I never really smiled in any of those. Even when the photographer called out “Smile please!” all I could muster was a half-assed, one sided curve of my lips. Maybe it was because I was self-conscious or maybe it was because I felt that it was strange to just artificially curve your lips upwards while looking at the camera. It’s not that I never smiled or laughed- it’s just that I did so very rarely when I was younger, only when it was absolutely uncontrollable.

And then there you were with your cute dimpled smile and that air of innocence. I have no idea what magic you had, considering we started off on a completely wrong foot where you almost made me cry the first time we actually talked. You consistently annoyed me and knew exactly how to hit a nerve. You said the stupidest things all the time and they never made sense to me. Actually, when I come to think of it now, you are still a complete mystery to me. Whether you understand what you’re saying, whether you really mean everything you say, what you’re feeling all the time. You are a walking paradox- you could be completely honest about your emotions and still make me feel like I don’t understand a thing about you. But the one thing I do remember is that despite how much you annoyed me every day, you also lifted up my spirits automatically.

One day when we were just going about our routines as usual, you just suddenly said, “You have a nice smile. You really should smile more often”. And you said this in the most off-handed and guileless manner as if it was such an ordinary thing to say. Well maybe it was ordinary for you, but this was the first time that when someone said this, it felt like it was a genuine observation and not just somebody expecting a compliment in return. Let me clarify that it was not that you were the first one to say this- people had told me this before but it felt like they just wanted me to say something good about them in return- and that’s exactly what I did. I have no idea if you even have any recollection of saying this to me but let me tell you that it had me thinking the rest of the day.

The minute I entered my house, I went straight to the mirror and flashed a grin. This was the girl who nearly lost the lead role in a play in the 4th grade because she wasn’t smiling enough to portray the cheerful protagonist. I wanted to know what you found so special about my smile which I had disliked for the longest time. So I stood in front of the mirror for five whole minutes, trying to look at my smile from every angle. And guess what? Five minutes later I was able to convince myself that maybe my smile was not so bad after all and there was definitely no reason to ration my smiles.

That evening, I was reveling in my new found appreciation of smiling. I was beaming at everyone I saw the rest of the day and I could see that it was infectious- even my parents were secretly smiling at each other after seeing me. And that’s the day I realized the power of a smile. My cheek muscles were really hurting at the end of the day but I didn’t care. I had finally learnt to love my smile and maybe now I wouldn’t run the risk of losing a lead role just because I wasn’t smiling enough. I started smiling more and more from then onwards and now it’s hard to stop.

Sometimes, I do get sad and stop smiling but all I need to do is recall the day you made my view of myself change and I start smiling. I am indebted to you for this, but even more than that, I’m so glad that you helped me take a step forward in loving myself. People don’t talk enough about this but overcoming insecurities is not easy and you helped me take my one giant leap. I hope you read this someday and know that you once made a girl very happy and taught her how she could spread this infectious happiness.

College diaries- First day

“So this is it”, I thought after seeing my parents off, “My home for the next four years”. 2000 kilometres away from home and already feeling a little lost, I stepped into my room for the first time and introduced myself to my roommates. Well, the University has this policy that in the first year, they assign roommates in a way such that there is both regional and academic diversity within the room. So when I met my roommates I was feeling even more lost because not even a single one was close to home- they all live in North India while I am from Bangalore and was desperately hoping for some familiarity on the first day. They all started talking in Hindi and at that time while I did understand Hindi, they were shooting off sentences rapidly so I wasn’t able to follow them. Realising I was a bit uncomfortable they switched to English and I immediately felt glad that they were including me in their conversation as well. Thinking back now, they were extremely welcoming and we all bonded over our mutual home-sickness and I’m really going to miss this bond we forged next semester when we have to move to a room for 2. Anyway coming back to my first day, after finishing the registration process and having lunch, we just stuck together like glue and went together everywhere. It might have looked strange then but at that point of time, we didn’t care and we were just trying to get through the fact that we wouldn’t be going home anytime soon. We still do that actually- we try to have our meals and go on walks together whenever time permits. Since we were tired after all the travelling and unpacking on the first day we didn’t explore much. We just went to the dining hall, had dinner and then slept early. That first night was the worst one for me though. I was so homesick, I couldn’t sleep and I was just tossing and turning around. And when I finally did sleep, I got a dream that I was at home enjoying with my family and I felt even worse when I got up the next day. It was not how I expected my first day to go- in the movies the character is always so excited that they’re going away to college. The excitement was there of course but it was overshadowed by the strangeness of a new place (it took almost 2 weeks to find our way around) and the homesickness. So that pretty much sums up my first day in college- a pinch of excitement, 2 tablespoons of unfamiliarity and 3 cups of homesickness.

Happiness starts with you.

They say that successful people are never very happy. A sea of people saying that all they wanted in life was to be happy and that they didn’t care about success or fame made me ponder over this. Is it really true that you can’t be happy when you are successful?

Last month, I came across a very cheerful, young woman on the bus and on a crowded bus full of gloomy passengers, she stood out. Walking towards where she was standing , I asked her “Ma’am, how are you so cheerful about being on a crowded bus being pushed around by everyone and stepped on?” On hearing me, she looked at me, smiled and said “I just got a venture capitalist to invest in my start up and I am feeling extremely happy about this development. It is a big step for my company.” We talked for some more time about her job and her happiness was infectious. I stepped off at my stop with a huge smile on my face and a feeling of satisfaction. I realized that I also got the answer to my question. Yes, it is possible to be happy when you are successful and this gave me all the more motivation to work for everything I want. However, do not confuse being happy for settling. Push yourself to be the best and never be satisfied but you can still be happy with where you are.

Do not let anything get in the way of your happiness. If you really want to, you can be happy and it is completely up to you. So remember that you can be happy whenever you choose to be, and work hard.