If there is no struggle, there is no progress - Frederick Douglass
This quote summarizes what I went through when I wanted to start my life on my own terms 16 years back. I had many dreams and those were not possible to achieve in a small town. Hence, I wanted to move to a bigger city, but all of it came at a price - financial, emotional and physical struggle, coupled with stress from near and dears. Who sends a girl to another city for high school? Why can’t she take up a hostel?... And many such questions were thrown not only at me but also at my parents. I was adamant. I wanted a bigger canvas to paint my future and moving to the next big city seemed so right. So, at 17 I moved to Chandigarh to #startanewlife.
At first it was not easy as a teenager to embrace the changes. It rattled me - new environment, no friends and a very conservative school was very intimidating. I was at a loss for a couple of weeks. Kids were smart, they knew everything about computers, they knew everything that was happening in the world and they were good at studies. All was fast paced and I was struggling to fit in. Yes, fit in initially. Even that was a daunting task. There were many moments when I regretted my decision. My friends were living a comfortable life with their families, in a very protective environment. And as a teenager, I couldn’t even understand all the feeling I had that time. Was I scared or failing, I asked myself many a times. Now I think - both. I was scared and because I was scared, I was failing.
The first good thing happened when I became friends with Anila. She helped me with many things. She is a dear friend till date. Slowly I started understanding the culture. I took computer classes at NIT, which helped me to regain my confidence. I studied extra hard, burnt midnight oil to be among top 5 in my class. I started socialising outside the school and made new friends who taught me finer nuances of big city life. It may sound very small a move to anyone but moving to Chandigarh imbibed strong character values in me. I am independent, confident and cosmopolitan because of it. It turned out to be that moment when I formally took charge of my life - where I wanted and where I landed is a result of one decision of my life.
I discarded all my inhibitions from then on and was surprised to discover a side of me, which I never knew was there. I think even my parents were happy. In retrospection, it looks overwhelming - meeting school principal on my own, buying everything I needed, commuting on Roadways buses, negotiating with rickshaw-wala for five rupees to save for one hotdog. But I am happy I did all that and I hope my parents are proud of me. Oh, did I tell you, my Principal who hardly met anyone, called my parents to meet with him and I won many accolades for my writing in my new school.
Life became better - challenging but more fulfilling. Ending with one of my favorite quotes -
Life begins outside your comfort zone.