There is a gargantuan vacuum between the triads of the life in and around college, the internal anxieties, and all the post-modern ways you try to mask it in. This piece was published in the farewell edition of DU Beat for the session 2018-2019.
In spite of the million diversities which form the demography of the University of Delhi (DU), what creates an eternal mutual sympathy is the fact that we all come out of the conveyor belt of a strict school system, having braved the long twelve years of mechanical monotony, and the teenage crises, under the constant surveillance of parents.
Naturally then, the idea of a promised land of unfathomed independence called college is firmly romanticised in our mental spaces. In perpetuum, the countless young-adult movies, the many high-school drama based books, and all those young-love songs, create an utopia: about a future in the dreamish college, which ultimately develops into clearly unrealistic expectation from, and hence for, the future self; a red zone by all aspects.
Then starts college, and with it, dance heavily and noisily on our heads all the expectations that the 13-year-old, and later the 16-years-old self had from this 18-years-old self. As if that being not enough, the present self adds extra expectations when one sees the other guy in the class who has a really confident air you had always wanted to have, or the girl over there is interning with a big-shot media firm, or some guy on the first bench has read all the books a human, for you, possibly can.
First year, hence, goes by in ticking the boxes. Studies, internships, dressing well, the right genre, a romantic endeavour, a friend circle – there are just too many to tick. Additionally, the university keeps its tricks in tact – the freshers’ parties, elections, and fest; a first-year kid, the prince of this promised heaven, has to ace all of them.
But the second year brings the disillusionment. You realise that there will be this person who would always score better, because the marking system is inherently flawed, that college societies can be really toxic, and any number of smoked cigarettes won’t fit you in with the cool kids, that the relationship is just another game of power dynamics, that capitalism is a lie, the god is dead, and there is no point of doing all the freelancing and internships because any tangible outcome is impossible. Overall, there is no point striving because at the end of the day, nothing actually is worth the struggle. Unsurprisingly, social media, where your friends show off their unflinching state of happiness in weekly parties and monthly trips, where success stories are a regular tune, only increases this existential malaise. Clearly, this is the huge boulder of failing expectations and hard-hitting realities, and the Sisyphean second-year kid finds increasingly impossible to ascend with it to the following year – the third and the final year of this tryst with life.
However, as Albert Camus famously concluded, one must imagine Sisyphus happy. Since the reality has finally set in and the ultimate truth of being caught up in indomitable constructs is a universal act, by the final year, one starts understanding existential angst in its own terms. Living is full of complexities, it is up to the individual to give the meaning to life. It is up to one to find the order in this chaos. And so one does.
“More often than not, one stops looking for the answers in the third year, and starts taking delight in the mess that is life, comes at peace with the hypocrisies, cultural anxieties, emotional and individual insecurities and, well, life,” remarks a professor, who has also been a student of this university, in a casual conversation.
Summing up, if you have spent these three years at the university and have, by some deux ex machina, succeeded in saving your sanity, you know where you are heading. Even if nothing makes sense right now, with patience, it will. Product of the Indian social constructs and the education system as you are, good things are waiting for you.
Feature Image Source: Google