The Life changing decision to be an Engineer…
All of us here, at some point of time or the other in the past decided that we want to pursue engineering. Maybe we decide this by ourselves, or had some acquaintance that followed the same career choice & decided because of the influence, or maybe just for the sake of making our parents proud.
After all, engineering is one of the most difficult under-graduate courses, and the best aspect is the short amount of time in which your career takes its course, if you really are brilliant. While doctors only start practising well over the age of 30, if we are promising, we all will be having great jobs by the time we are 25. We saw ourselves wearing cool uniforms, working in state of the art facilities, forever inventing, forever developing. Designing cars, machines & strange looking devices with impossibly long acronyms that were impossible to learn, creating weapons - that is what I, personally speaking had initially imagined myself doing when I decided to follow this career when I was in grade 7.
The prospect of going to college, finding an entire new life & actually making it for myself, was a thrilling prospect ever since childhood. The part I revered the most was the freedom & independence offered in a place like that. My earliest concepts of college were naturally, inspired by the movies made on the same. I'd imagine college as a place where you can dress up the way you want to, make the coolest friends & hang out at the most chic haunts, sleep in the class, have fun spirited debates with the professors to unnerve them, and so on and so forth. And I'm pretty sure that each & every one of us also envisioned a place like this to be.
Back to the harsh reality, we chose to go into the field of engineering!!!
The first step towards this final goal was working during senior school to get admitted into an esteemed engineering college. And so we did just that. Having all slogged for hours in our final years of school, joining the best coaching institutes & forming study groups with friends, we were all blissfully unaware of the drama that was to unfold in our lives.
In the beginning, we'd dream of getting admitted to the most premier institutes, not only in India, but even in the international scenario. Daydreams about the possibility of getting admitted to places like MIT & IIT's were frequent. Imagining sequences in which your breaking news of your success to family & friends, getting the reverent & awed looks was what took away all our time. Let's be honest with ourselves, in the beginning of our ambition to join an engineering college, we had always overlooked the NIT's.
So we spent our grade XI in blissful oblivion, nursing such high hopes & dreams, while actually having the time of our lives & explaining that we were just taking a "break" after our class X boards. Then arrived class XII," THE FINAL" instalment of the phase of life which had consumed our being since we were toddlers. And that's when things started getting out of hand.
The explaining of being seniors in school & the nostalgia of leaving it all behind consumed every fibre of our being. We had our Higher Secondary school examinations to study for, had to prepare to qualify the engineering entrances. And we were suddenly caught up in the act of balancing things that, according to us could never go together. As time flew, our expectations of ourselves started to diminish, & we gauged ourselves enough to know where we may, may not end up in a couple of months. Still, the fun & easy-going attitude continued. We slept late, absented & even bunked tuitions & coaching, went out for picnics & movies with friends, all the while nursing our guilty conscience by reasoning that we'd soon be leaving it all behind anyway, so why not make the most of things when you have them?
Alas, the same should have been done for our career plans too.
Suddenly we found ourselves filling out examinations forms like job applications, universities & colleges were inquired about as if we'd get into every single one of them. And in the blink of an eye, we passed out of the school. And then came the dreaded time in which we were supposed to write our exams. How easy the concept of objective-type questions had seemed earlier! We were in every sense of the world, native.
And when the results came, it seemed as if the fates were conspiring against us. Hadn't we studied enough to get through at least some exam? Our families also gave us a pretty hard time, and life for a while became too unbearable. In weak moments, we questioned our decisions regarding the path we chose to go.
To quote Harvey Dent from "The Dark Knight", "The night is darkest just before it is dawn". And fate had already promised us our dawn. The respective college in which we got admitted (FINALLY) saved us from dropping for a year again, or worse changing our line. Our parents stopped showering their wrath on us, at least for the time being. Everybody was just plain relieved. And so, with hearts lighter than they had been in ages, we prepared ourselves for the most exciting phase of our lives till date, the reason for all the drama.
Again, even here the same happened. Now that the battle was conquered, according to us in the least, we'd truly enjoy. Freedom in the true sense of the world.
No boundaries at all, no parental supervision, we'd be free to explore the world. We'd be left alone at long last, no silly curfew hours & rules which we find to be unnecessarily imposing. But when we finally arrive on the scene, our ideas were yet again, thwarted, & this time the blow was harsh.
After walking around in the school corridors as "seniors", we find ourselves, yet again, at the bottom rung of the ladder. We had absolutely no idea of how things truly are, the teachers seem intimidating & the seniors look at you as if you have escaped from the zoo. You find yourself struggling to make a position for yourself, to achieve some sense of identity in this mad-house that is full of hustle bustle of thousands of people such as yourself.
College had more rules than school, we were supposed to wear civilian clothes but that still were all like a uniform, a very unfriendly uniform indeed. Curfew hours were worse than home, and the food that we were provided was, to say the least, shocking. Shattered were the visions of visiting the cafeteria daily and eating exotic food, if you were sticking to the budget your parents provided you at least. And perhaps the biggest disappointment of all- the dream of bunking classes was killed so efficiently, just like an infant suffocated to death. We were cheated yet again. And all of a sudden, we realised the value and comfort we have at home.
The only silver lining was our friends. In them we found our life savers, they were the ones that stood by us even when we failed to submit an assignment, who joined us in getting punished by the teacher, and who were smart enough to eat up all the food that we got from home. Sleep is of little importance when you are talking to your roommates throughout the night. Studying for an exam unbearable, you can't handle the pressure. Decide to study with them and even when its past 3am, you'll be laughing around learning absolutely nothing. The difference? You won't be worried sick because you know that they are there to suffer the wrath of the exam setters alongside you. They can mess with you any day they want but if someone as much as glares at you, they will be the first to knock them off. Who wants to bunk class if you can have fun, right inside class with all your class-mates? At the end of the day, the positions parents have at home, friends have in college. They just become your world.
You make mistakes, tonnes of them, you fall down every day, but you pick yourselves up, dust yourself off, and have a go at it, all over again. You learn to be stubborn enough to stick to your own ideas and follow your dreams right till the very end. You learn to think about others and not just yourself. You value and appreciate things that didn't earlier mean the slightest. You learn to face situations and handle them brilliantly. We got a chance to make things better after school, but college and life after it gives no second chance. In short, you grow.
And just like that, life at an engineering college becomes FUN. You start loving every moment of it.