*This article was originally published in Volume 15, Issue 16 of DU Beat
Wake up and log in. That’s the way things had been for quite a while and were supposed to continue for a little longer. We had more time to prepare, didn’t we?
The colleges have officially reopened. Life has once again begun to resemble what it used to be, steadily revived and faintly glimmering. And while this has been long overdue, it has arrived fully equipped with baggage. Online had been the reigning Supreme for two years and reluctantly we had all gotten used to it. And now, in a rushing tide, we’ve all had to pack are bags and dust ourselves up to travel back to the old normal.
It’s a strange feeling, eerily electrified. Walking through the campus gates means something different for everybody. The first years are finally getting their college experience, wholly grateful they didn’t have to miss out on much. The second years are, after lamenting the loss their first year, at last stepping foot into their chosen haven for the first time and third years are back for sweet a farewell. And yet, there is a sense of unspoken reverberating camaraderie, manifesting itself in the ultimate question, “What now?”
For so long, this reopening was a thing that was going to happen, soon, but not now. A sure shot that that existed in uncertainty for over two years and suddenly hit us all time a ton of bricks. Figuring out a plan, finalizing said plan and then coming up with a course of action for this plan and also back up plans, all this had been, to some degrees, put on hold. But now, as we’re venturing into the big unknown for the first time, we’re also being forced to confront our futures.
Lost opportunities, near misses, errors that have yet to be fixed, it’s all out now, it’s all real. It’s an established and undisputed fact that for a future of any kind, you have to build yourself up on paper, prop and polish and college is the playground that lets you do that. This paper had been somewhere in a drawer in-between homework and now, it might as well be your birth certificate. Jobs, internships, post grad plans, it’s all happening, right now. It’s an overbooked train that doesn’t stop for anybody, the “What are your plans for the future?” express. Run and hop on it.
Another facet of this, overlooked but omnipresent, is college at least somewhat like it was envisioned a million times in a million different minds. Is it fun? What if it’s fun for everybody else? Navigating the social scene like playing minesweeper. You have to make friends, acquaintances, network and half something concrete to show for it at the end of three years, on paper, of course.
It’s all overwhelming and occasionally exciting. Maybe the anxieties were futile or maybe it just doesn’t seem to live up to what it was supposed to be (yet). But despite of the rushed execution, an abundance of misinformation and also somehow just a single official email, it has arrived. Offline classes, offline friendships, the retro ways are in vogue again.
Naina Priyadarshi Mishra