Just until a year ago, I was an ordinary boy studying at an average engineering college. I was put at a place I did not belong. The subjects didn’t intrigue me, my classmates, and the crowd didn’t either. I felt like a fish out of a pond. It seemed like they were speaking some other language which I did not know and in turn they didn't understand my language either.
I used to run from college as soon as the classes would get over, unlike other students who stayed behind and socialized. Whenever there was free time, I would either be on my phone (thanks to Jio) or go to the reading room and read newspapers.
One day though, a good thing happened. We were asked to deliver a presentation in the class. I was late on the presentation day and my classmates, on seeing me, started to laugh and giggle. They probably interpreted my coming late as a sign of shyness and nervousness. But, when I started speaking and presenting, everybody was amazed. People stopped their gossips to listen to me. And that's when I realized that I was good at speaking! I could see that everyone was listening to me attentively. My teacher too was beaming. I felt really good about myself. This however, was shortlived because soon the days of the exams came near. And as usual, during exams, I felt like an alien. While everyone used to be busy writing, I used to sit back and look around. Those days I felt like a big failure.
Gradually it started to get to me. So much that I wanted to run far-far away from my college and my course. I gradually started losing motivation and interest from every single thing and started to even lose faith in myself.
Soon, this frustration took the form of depression. Whenever I heard my friends doing so good in their exams, I felt more helpless and stuck doing something I did not like. I tried voicing it out to my family once. But you know how sometimes, they tend to see the best in you. They told me that it probably was just a phase and that soon I will feel better about it, that no one really likes ‘studying’ so it was normal. Knowing myself, I knew this was not just a phase, but I didn’t know what else to do. So I just continued with my days until that one day when I got to know about Ms. Charvi Jain.
Charvi is a psychotherapist and she founded Over a cup of tea. I decided to book an appointment and finally I met her. She came across as such an elegant and charming lady. She has an aura which makes you feel good even if you aren’t. She is so soft spoken and she listens to whatever you have to say so carefully, making notes in between for her reference. Since that day, my life got a jerk. It started to change, slowly.
When I look back, I realize she did not really 'do' anything. The first session was merely a conversation and then another and another and another. I had many sessions and they were all just conversations but my life surely was changing in between those 1 hour talks. She helped me find the courage to say “IT’S NOT THIS .“ It took me time to get out of the confusion and the clouds slowly drifted away. She told me to eliminate the options I knew for sure was not for me and then to select ‘what I really was interested in’. She asked me reflect and introspect told me that the answer was within me. Slowly, I could see my life coming back to track. I was becoming a more responsible and matured person.
Now looking back, what really helped were the reflections. I thought about my childhood days. Thought about how I reached here doing something where I didn’t fit in at all. On introspection, I realized that while growing up, I always wanted to be an actor. The industry always fascinated me. When I was 5 years old, daily soaps were very popular. They still are but back then it was a revolution. My cousin sister used to stay with us. She watched a serial on Sony TV which had a character named Ayush who was a doctor, who was doing his internship at a city hospital. After watching it for some days, I started to dress up like a doctor and roam the entire house checking my family members who I regarded as my patients. My parents seemed very proud and they assumed I wanted to be a doctor just like my grandfather. They even bought me a stethoscope. I used it to imitate Ayush. Little that they realized that it wasn't the profession of doctor that fascinated me but the idea of playing the character did. Later, I started to imitate other fictional characters that came on TV as well, such as, Junior G, Sanju from Shaka Laka Boom Boom. And then growing up happened. I did not do much acting because I was told I needed to focus on academics. In 2014, I gave my 10th boards. Everybody had huge expectations from me as I was considered a bright student since my childhood. I, however, managed to secure 86% only. My family was disappointed. I made a pledge to myself to do really well in 12th boards. I worked very hard and I finally secured a 93.5%. That was real happiness. I could see the smile in my father’s eyes. He was so happy.
Now came, the time to select a good college and course. My brother studies at IIT Bombay. Everybody told me that I should also do engineering like my brother. Since I liked science in class 11th and 12th I didn't object. So, my fate was sealed. I gave the Joint Entrance Examinations from around the country, and I did miserably. However, I managed to get myself enrolled into an average engineering college. Initially when college started, I was happy and hopeful like any other individual. I thought it was 'college' and it would be fun, and I thought I liked the subjects too. Wish I'd known how different science is in class 11th-12th from the science we study in engineering!
These reflections and the sessions with Charvi, made me realize that I needed to do something to change this. I decided that it is never too late and that I would do what it needs to turn things around for me. We shortlisted 3 to 4 colleges in India where I would do something I like. When I shared the intention of keeping engineering as the back up option, Charvi told me how when we keep a Plan B, we don't end up giving our 100% to Plan A. She told me it's good to be cautious so I must apply to courses of my choice in multiple colleges, but not keep such options as backup which we know for sure that we are not interested in.
Based on my interest and some brainstorming, I decided to study Mass Communication. I gave the entrance for Symbiosis, Pune and I cleared the 1st round. My father, however said one day, that if I have to do something other than engineering, I will have to do it from Kolkata only. Hence, I did not go to the 2nd round in Pune. In Kolkata there was only one option: St. Xavier’s College. And it wasn't going to be easy to get in. I always dreamt of studying there. I was anxious. And there was no backup option. So I made a leap of faith and give in my best. “I made the jump, and this time, without the rope.” And guess what, I got through!
I am now a Xaverian. I am studying at my dream college and my dream course. I made a few friends on the day of the admission itself because our frequency matched. I just love the ambience and loved the college, the teachers, the infrastructure and my life. My parents are happy. Life is back to normal or rather I should say, it’s crazy! I have so many friends in college. I come home long after college gets over. And most importantly, I love the subjects.
And talking of acting, I am doing various theatre productions in my college and outside. I participated in a theatre festival recently. I am doing short films and radio plays regularly. I am in various societies of the college in acting. Every time any acting event takes place, my name is always there, sometimes, even the first one. People in college just cannot think of acting with me not in it.
And all these have happened because a magician, an angel did some magic on me. Now I do things with dedication. I know my strengths, my abilities. I have a meaning added to my life. I know that I want to pursue to be a very successful actor and I know that I will, one day.
I would highly recommend and advice all the teenagers and the board exam aspirants to just follow their hearts and listen to their inner soul and find their soulmate i.e. their dream course in a dream college. If you face problems like objections from family, friends and society, which I know you will, because anything great doesn’t come easy, do take time out and talk to your inner soul and find out what you actually like. If that also doesn't help, do feel free come to Over a Cup of Tea, for a session with the wonderful counsellors. I assure you, while this chat session would be similar to informal chat sessions with your best friends yet by the end of it, you will be in a better place to find out your true goal and what your soul wants. And as the name suggests, there are a variety of tea flavours for you as well, so that you feel comfortable and at home.
Thank you Charvi for helping me through the tunnel. Thank you for telling me there’s light out of it. Thank you for believing in me more than I did. Thank you for making me a good human being. Thank you for making a difference. Thank you my magician. Thank you for telling me who I am and what I am and what I can be.
Thank You for telling me “IT’S NOT THIS”.