Independence: How I learned to spread my wings

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I am 20 years old, currently pursuing an Engineering degree in a reputed institution very far from home.

Being a spoilt, only child, it was difficult for me to leave home. My mother was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle myself- after all, I have been living a sheltered and cocooned existence, protected from the dangers and uncertainties of the real world. My immediate family voiced the same concerns.

However, my father was adamant. He noticed the wild spark I had in my eye, that yes, I wanted to accomplish something.,He understood that if I wanted to achieve something in my life, if I wanted to stand on my own to feet,I could not be mollycoddled any more. And for that reason, he fully supported my dream. My dream to go study in one of the top engineering colleges of the country, in a relatively unknown, upcoming branch.

And thus, in July 2012, I found myself, a girl who hadn’t lived a week without her mother, in Vellore, approximately 900km away from home.

Due to an error in hostel room allotment, I was allotted a six bedded room. The very thought of living with five strangers terrified me. I was a girl who loved privacy. I was someone used to living in peace, in her own cozy little nook. Living with five boisterous girls? The thought made me shudder. I had convinced myself that the year is going to be absolute hell. However, destiny surprised me.

I have great memories associated with that room. True, it wasn’t easy, true, my room-mates and I have had our fair share of problems. But, I found a lifelong friend in that room, and I guess that makes everything worth it.

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Hostel life is indeed precious. Late night horror movies, midnight snacks, helping each other dress up, picking out your roommate’s clothes, trading eye liner secrets, those little heart to heart conversations, they all help gradually build up strong and wonderful friendships. And for that, I am grateful to VIT.

I used to have my father wake me up every single day before school. Now, I had to wake up on my own. I hate to make my own bed, wash my own clothes, endure mess food, allocate my own monthly budget,  make my own decisions and fend for myself. I could set my own time table, pick my own teachers, life my life exactly the way I wanted to. Initially, it was a little difficult, but later I learned how to adjust. I learned how to live my life according to my terms.

Vellore Institute of Technology has given me the best memories of my life, and its only been 2 years so far.I studied, I  roamed around, I made crazy weekend trips to Bangalore. I learned how to eat street food. I ate yummy dhaba food to save money.  Besides the decent academics, I have met the most amazing and diverse set of individuals here. I have found some great friends, I have become acquainted with my love for writing and public speaking. I have learned time management. I have learned to take responsibility for my own actions. I have learned how to be independent.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have had my fair share of hardships. I have had my heart broken, I have had ugly fights with some of my friends, I have done badly in some of my exams, but at the end of the day, I know that I am happier here than I  could ever be living a sheltered life. Yes, I miss home, my parents, my easy life and good Chicken Biryani, but it was time to leave the nest. Although I am not completely independent yet, the foundations of my independence have been laid strongly and firmly. Tomorrow, if I have to fend for myself, I know it would be difficult, but I would be able to. And that is what matters at the end of the day.

Parents are always sceptical while sending their children far away from home, and that is understandable. The concern of your child’s safety can give you sleepless nights, especially in case your child is a girl. It is often very difficult for parents to view their girls as anything other than their “little angels” even when they are twenty something. My parents too suffer from the “little girl syndrome”. It was very difficult for them too, but in the end, it was worth it. It is difficult, but when the time is right, you need to leave the nest. Because somehow, you learn more about yourself when you fend for yourself. Vellore Institute of Technology helped me learn more about myself than I possibly could have if I were staying at home. In order to conclude, I would like to quote a beautiful poem by Linda Pastan- ‘To a daughter leaving home’, which wonderfully describes all the mixed feelings a parent feels when they realize that their little child is not so little any more.

To a Daughter Leaving Home

-Linda Pastan

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving
goodbye.

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