The Missing Speech
This post will cover things I could not say when I was supposed to — the speech that one gives during their writeup. Many things were running in my head during that time, but I couldn’t say it all in the heat (or the coldness/fuddle/rush?) of the moment. I’ll make up for it here.
7th December 2021, around 11 pm...
Thank God, now that I am standing up, my knees hurt a lot less. But I swear, the roasts hurt even more! Before you actually begin to judge me, let me tell you: only 40% of what they said were facts. The rest? Umm, let’s just say they used their “creative liberty” far too well.
The college has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for me. Only after I let go and started enjoying the undulations of the ride did I start to relish it in its entirety.
I entered college as a fat, shy, insecure kid who was still tending to his post-JEE traumas. I watched a lot of How It’s Made and How Stuff Works during my school days, and I thought I’d be doing something similar in an engineering college. I aspired to go to an American university and do a master’s in something with many numbers and weird symbols and diagrams.
But I was out in the open; my sample space was set to expand rapidly. I was faced with a lot of choices — and I chose what felt better in the moment. I skipped classes. I talked to a lot of people in SR. I avoided department interactions. I missed out on a lot of club interactions and sports team trials. To be honest, I’m not really proud of all the things I did in my first year.
With a stroke of luck, I got into Team Robocon (just barely). That added another layer of responsibilities for me. I finally got a good excuse for performing poorly in my exams. I was proud of something, though — I improved my health drastically by playing badminton early in the morning. I also got to interact with people across different cultures and backgrounds and learnt so much from them. I was bombarded with different ways people behave, which eventually pushed me to write whenever my roomie was away. I was intimidated by the very thought of expressing myself in public, which, again, is really not something I’m very proud of.
All the people I interacted with had something in common — they were toppers or at least good performers in their respective schools. All of them had something different to brag about — some of these were great dancers, someone taught guitar to kids, someone was working with the founding team of a startup, some of them were knee-deep into CP and web dev. I’m not sure I was good at anything, though.
This feeling of inadequacy followed me in my second year. I was struggling through my EEE degree. I was trying to have fun with my friends but wanted something to bite into, which gave me a reason to get out of my bed. The world felt colourless. I felt good for nothing, absolutely nothing.
Would I be called evil when I say the lockdown came as a blessing and pushed a reset button to all our lifestyles? I’m sure a lot of you had fun, at least in the first month or so of the days you were cooped up in your homes. I took this time and gave myself the space to think through some of the deepest problems running in my head.
The online semesters weren’t the best, but still, I got a lot done in the 2.5 semesters we were at home. I discovered something named Product Management, which resonated with what I wanted to do in the tech space. I learnt from online communities, applied for internships, got myself two internships where I learned what I like and what I don’t like about the role. I got my robotics team a sponsorship amount never seen before in the last 10+ years of its inception. It gave me some validation about where I was heading.
Speaking of validation — I gave a talk on PM Internships and got approached by dozens of juniors and batchies (a senior who’s been a mentor to me since the first year reached out to me for help on her product assignment). On the side, we got our components approved after months of to-and-fro and paperwork. I took a big sigh of relief.
All of this was before the psenti sem. The psenti sem was one-of-a-kind. I mean it — I’m sure to some degree that no psenti sem ever has been this eventful. The arrival of the first group of students — the welcoming quietness and the campus coming back on its feet. The emotional decision of the entire campus reopening — the beginning of the end of the horrible times we went through. The spontaneous plans, the dating frenzies, the “try-out” phases of all sorts of stuff, the (illegal) incoming of alumni and PS-2 friends, the Diwali celebrations, the BPL weeks, the Dandiya nite, the tiny music nites, the emotionally intense parting days — it was all so worth it. I turned down an offer from my summer internship so that I could unwind properly, and I’m so proud of my decision!
I screwed up, but thanks to the sandboxed environment BITS provides, I kept going on. It allowed me to experiment, to fail and to keep moving. I discovered my interests in music and writing. I built tiny apps and bots. I flunked case competitions. I ran and jumped till I fell flat on the ground. I fell in love. I confessed. I sneaked into unknown places. I clicked a ton of pictures. I sighed into the fresh air and the open skies. I danced like a monkey. I hugged as many beautiful people as I could — I remained present and tried to absorb whatever this place had to give me (except for the lectures)! In my psenti sem, I got as uncomfortable as I possibly could have. I showed a middle finger to moments of hesitation, and when I didn’t, I regretted not taking that one step.
It should now be obvious from my writeup: I got it wrong much more than I got it right. But I also realized that it is the case with everyone out there. It humbles me and soothes me. I’m grateful for the things that made me who I am at the end of my four years here.
I’m also grateful to this place as it gave me a chance to interact with some of the brightest minds I’ve ever come across. People who’d hold PoRs, not in clubs, but in government organizations. People who’d develop software, not only for college fests but for billion-dollar startups. People who’d not only make my day but of hundreds of people over mass media.
Thank you — all those who’re here, and those of you who aren’t (I’m happy you didn’t attend this embarrassing mess!). Thank you for teaching me something new every day. Thank you for making me feel small at times and larger than I’ve ever felt during others. Thank you for tolerating my fits of anger and madness and for laughing at my shitty jokes. For giving me space while I was mumbling through my own story like I rote-memorized it or when I didn’t make eye contact. Thank you for making me feel special for my small achievements and pushing me to do things I never knew I could do.
While it’s somewhat likely that you won’t get to talk to me in person in a nice place like this ever again, I just hope I did it right. I actively tried making people around me happy, only to realize that wasn’t the best strategy. Intentionally or unintentionally, if I messed something up, I’m sorry. I hope you give me a chance to make things better if I still can. But I hope you really meant it when you said you’re grateful to have me by your side.
Even though I’m a little dejected that I’ll be leaving this place soon, I’m also happy that the lessons I learnt here will help me navigate my life in the coming years. I know I’ll be riddled with
problems BTs, big and small, throughout my life, but now I’m certain that I’ll make it through, and that’s all I need.
Please feel free to stay connected via social media. Feel free to call and have a conversation about anything that’s running in your head — career, cultures, relationships, tech, mental health, memes, whatever! I’ll be happy to listen.
Came in a kid, going out a man. Staying cringeworthy forever.
agla sem phodenge
Signing off, 2018A3PS0421P
Thank you so much!
#college- 50 toasts