All our lives we wait to grow up. Grow up and get away. Away from our parents. Away from all the nagging. Away from the deadlines and time limits and the monotony of being with the same friends since kindergarten. Higher studies seems just like an excuse sometimes. You can wake up whenever you want, eat whatever you want, bunk as many lectures as you want, without being answerable to anyone and you can roam around as much as you want. New friends, new place, new life. All of it sounds so exciting, so tempting.
But independence is a two-edged sword. Living away from your parents for a degree makes one realise that you are not living in a bubble anymore, the protected environment you lived in during school, where everything was easy. Apart from this new temptress of an adventure, learning how to access your bank account, how to make a DD, how to pay your own mobile bill, how to stay alert cause you’re alone, manage the amount of pocket money you are given and the most difficult of all- learn to adjust and gel with new people. Juggling and multitasking are your new best friends. This is called “growing up”, which outstation students get to experience firsthand, as in their case, with great freedom comes greater responsibility.
“I am from Mumbai, but since 8th grade I’ve been in a hostel in Panchgini. I’ve been away from home for 6 years now. Staying away from home is liberating in many ways. It is scary initially and you’re always skeptical about your decisions. In the long haul, you certainly learn to stand on your own feet, however, always listen to your subconscious, that tiny little voice, which guides you as to what is right and what’s not, and you’re pretty good to go. Just don’t let your inhibition loose.”
– Parina, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.
As much as you crave coming home after 11 PM, and have the forbidden house parties and 3 AM. walks, you start missing your mother’s nagging, her pampering, her stroking your hair and most of all- GHAR KA KHANA. We’re growing up but we’re not really independent. Dependency is a habit but dependency on your loved ones has no cure. No matter how your relationship with your parents is, you will miss them once you are far away. If anything, one starts valuing their mother more than anyone since you have to wash your own clothes or eat the terrible food of your PG/hostel you’re staying in. You will appreciate the trouble your father goes to, to give you a nice comfortable life, when you have to go somewhere by yourself or stand in a long line to get a railway concession. And all of a sudden, what you hated the most- Always being told what to do- you now crave the most. You miss just sitting with your parents, watching TV or the arguments over which restaurant you all will go to for dinner. But when you do return to your family in the summer holidays, after all the pampering and “mera raja beta”, you just want to go back to being by yourself because you got so used to having things done your way, and find all the restrictions kiddish and irritating. But well, the grass is always greener on the other side.
“ It hasn’t even been a year that I left Mumbai to go study in Pune and I miss my mom terribly. I’ve never been away from home before…. I’m not really the huggable sort, but every time that I now come home, I bestow these long hugs on all my family members. I’ve wanted to be a doctor all my life and the course is more than satisfactory. I’m in love with the campus. It’s huge. Tiffs with new friends made me value my school friends all the more. Being away from home is difficult, but with time I guess it will all smooth over, just like a wound heals over time.”
– Khushboo, Mimer Medical College, Pune.
On the other hand, the euphoria of being in the new college campus, finally getting the course that you wanted, the intimidating seniors, the cute boys and the hot girls, the gossip, the first coffee spent over getting to know your new friends’ life stories, the satisfaction of excelling in and enjoying your classes, the pressure and frustration you feel when the workload increases making you think- just why did I pick this course again? The feeling-like-a-loser when you flunk or perform badly, the first fight with your new friends, learning which ones are genuine and which ones are not; all of these constitute in themselves a whole different world altogether. A world where you cannot turn to your mom for comfort when you feel lonely or deep down in the ditch, or you get into a bad accident or injure yourself somehow- you are your own mum. On the up side you become street smart and learn to be diplomatic. You realise that its important to be “friends” with everyone because you might need help from anyone and everyone at some point of time, but you definitely learn which are the true ones. All of these are thoughts that you cannot really share with anyone and your conscience is your new diary and best friend. Having crossed to the other side, you are now at a threshold, where you are straddling between being young and becoming a young adult, bumping into obstacles and rocky roads and learning the hard way because in a haste to savour the new found freedom, you want to gulp down every bit of it and in that haste, this freedom becomes more overwhelming than liberating. You become more conscious of your actions and self- aware of your decisions as you now get to call the shots on your life. In a path to self- discovery and retaining your true self, you become more sensitive towards the world and the people you surround yourself with, realizing the profound knowledge that there’s so much out there, more than just going from college to home and home to college, that there are so many out there like you, how different their life is from yours, more importantly how different their outlook on life is different from yours, so many places to explore and new dishes to try and get attached and detached to different kinds of people, both in and outside your comfort zone. More than anything, it’s simply that infinite feeling, that aura of living alone that is mesmerizing.
“My hometown is Manipur and I did most of my secondary education from Assam and am now studying law in Mumbai. It’s something like a sweet sadness. Sweet because it’s darn enriching, helps you in standing up for yourself and doing things on your own. Sad because of the obvious- away from home. These new experiences come with conditions apply, like missing out on family life, and in my case sibling fights with my elder brother, who is also away from home. I’ve been away from home for about 7 years now, with vacations in between of course.”
– Rubyanka, Pravin Gandhi College of Law, Mumbai.
Young adults want to become adults too fast, but enjoying the process of balancing, adjusting and learning how to live on your own is the best experience ever. You may feel that friends of yours who live with their parents are lucky, sure they are, but they will never learn what you learnt- self-sustenance, being your own mentor and learning how to cook.
So go on out there, breathe in the new air, take in the new environment, because the college days are the best days of your life.