Almost all my life I’ve had two identities—my name and the tag of being a student.
Everywhere I went, that was my occupation, my identity. That was what I said automatically when I was asked what I did. The specifications like ‘student studying what’ and everything came later, but the occupation remained the same. Even at the internships and job I did during my college, I was a ‘working student’ and not a mere employee.
Now, after more than twenty years of being one, I have to finally let go of it. I don’t want to. Not yet. There is a comfort net surrounding this identity. One of it is not being thrown around in the world of adults and forced to live by rules set by them.
Some of my friends are still in colleges, taking admissions for courses so different from their liking, it’s surprising they can even walk up the college steps and attend lectures without dozing off.
Some of my friends are still students so they can claim they are still students and escape marriage.
I know. So many different reasons to cling to the title. I wish I had one.
What I’ve been doing since I scribbled on the last paper of my exam (it’s been a little over a month since) is—catching up. On life. On reading. On writing. And on basically everything I wanted to do before I knew how much I’d want to go back to that life.
I am the kind of person who daydreams about holidays during the exam season and makes a mental list (sometimes on paper) of all the things I want to ‘achieve’ when I breathe the air of freedom. And when the holidays roll in, all I do is watch movies and binge-watch television shows and miss the college days—the hustle to meet the submission deadlines, smelling the fresh books and all that—terribly.
This past month I’ve been wanting to do a lot of things, but been doing very few. But if there’s anything I am proud of then that’s my progress on writing a novel. Well, actually two. I was writing one novel, then an idea for another one struck me like a lightning (how it struck is an interesting story in itself. If I ever finish it and publish it—and I hope I do—I’ll be narrating it to every person who will listen) and it’s been good so far. (*Touch wood*. Lets not jinx this. Because really, writing a novel is as much pain in the arse as it is fun).
And I’ve been catching up on reading. A lot of it, actually.
Do I want to keep learning? Yes, of course. There are so many things I’d do if I was given the time and the drive. But at some point you feel guilty of staying a student, no matter how much you want to. You have the desire to put all that you’ve learned to use.
Now we can argue we remain students throughout our lives and we never really stop learning and blah. I agree. But the title stamped on your forehead is gone once you graduate. And it’s almost daunting to live without it. You’re like the fish out of a pond after that, at least for some time. I’m that fish right now.
I consulted my Nani on the same day I gave my last exam paper. I was sleeping on a couch (with a high fever and shivering with cold) as she sat by my side. I asked her what she thought I should do now/next (being a teacher she is a great counselor and has some good practical advices up her sleeves) and all she told me was, wait. Wait and rest your body. Wait and recover. Wait and let the right opportunity drive by. You’ll know what you want to do when you cross that road. Don’t be in a hurry to reach that road, but also don’t be lazy when it arrives.
I think those are some pearls of wisdom right there. So all I’m doing right now is waiting. And about having to let go of the title of being a student and entering a new phase in life? Well, everything takes time. Nobody said it would be easy.