ISB is a thrilling place. It’s a new experience. For me, personally, it’s the first time that I’m away from home; away from family.
Right before I came here in April, my friends threw me a farewell party. They asked me what I was looking forward to most in the year ahead. The answer was easy – living away from family for the first time. I was looking forward to being independent, finally living the hostel life, and of course, making two-hundred-and-eighty-five new friends for life.
Well, I have found friends; a few people who genuinely, sincerely care. Friends who have taken care of me while I’ve been sick, held me when I’ve broken down (maybe once, yes, embarrassingly), and those who have laughed at the stupidest of my jokes not because I was funny, but because they knew I was looking for a reaction from them.
If you can relate to this, I would say that you’re extremely, blessed by the Lord, lucky. I’ve been lucky too. But among all of this, we tend to forget how being alone and being lonely are two completely different things. Between all the groups and squads that we see around, there are more people wanting to feel accepted into a family, a gang, a group of friends that they could call their own.
Much against my expectation of the place, I know how many of our peers crave to feel accepted without having to make as much effort as they are making to fit in. I don’t know if it’s about living away from home for the first time or the extreme competitiveness of the place that gets to you, but I myself have had more than a fair number of bouts of loneliness. I would never have admitted it here, had it not been for the number of people I have met in the past three weeks who have confessed of feeling the same, despite their happy exterior and so called “groups” that most others identify them with. I’ve seen people confess this with tears in their eyes, late in the night when no one has been around. I have heard people confess this during their late night walks around the campus. I have witnessed these confessions in the confinement of the quads, with sobs almost suppressed for them to not escape the walls outside of which they hold a happy front.
I would never have admitted to my own vulnerability, had it not been this undertone that so silently spreads across campus, surprisingly unnoticed, but definitely deeply and very personally felt. I don’t know how I have been a witness to so many confessions. I can’t say.
I would want you to know that there are so many people here who may be looking at your group from afar, wishing they had found friends like yours, hoping that maybe one or two terms down, they might find some company in misery. You may not be aware of how most of them feel because they don’t show it. A few others may have already been labelled as people who try too hard and are therefore uncomfortable to be around. Somewhere, behind this whole attempt to build perspective on life and business, we’ve lost the ability to see within people’s hearts, wait and make conversation with someone new and at least get to know them. Maybe they won’t have the courage to tell you how lonely they feel, but may be, for that half an hour, a conversation that you make would be all they need to hold on and keep hope alive for the next eight months to come.
I am admitting to my feelings today not because I need a vent to deal with it, but because I hope this will give courage to people who are trying to deal with it, to admit to it without shame. I also hope this will make the others aware of their duty towards the ISB community, and bring in a little more human touch.
Also, my feelings aside, I would like to thank Ashwin Chandrasekher. I cannot begin to explain how thankful I am to have found this person. He has been my anchor here. I hope everyone on this campus finds a friend like you.
Image Source: Aravind Balagi Prasad