Riddhi Kuthiala

On the 13th of March, two major events took place. Two events that changed my life.

The day started out like any other, I woke up, let the dogs out, bathed, got dressed, had breakfast, oh and, revised for my final board exam. It was finally here, the conclusion of a 14-year journey. 14 years of ups and downs, highs and lows, friendships and fights, love and heartbreak all culminating with a 3hour written exam testing information that I would, for sure, forget the moment I stepped out of the exam hall. How fitting!

My stomach was a center of nervous energy mixed with excitement. A million and one thoughts ran through my head, “What If the paper is tough”, “What if I fail”, “What is the full form of GEMS”, and so on. Never had I ever regretted taking Economics as a subject more than today. My restless pacing was interrupted by a honking car, indicating that my ride was here. And so, with a deep breath, and anxious tears, I picked up my bag to ready to conquer whatever economic hell the CBSE Testing Dept. wished on me.

By the end of the 25minute ride to the exam hall, my confidence had dwindled down to nearly nothing. I stepped out of the car and prayed to every Hindu God I could remember, and just to REALLY cover my bases, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism as well. I took one deep breath, looked at my notes in the hope that the information was SEARED in to my brain, I walked into the hall. I mean, the Gods were on my side, and my seat was next to the Economics topper, what could go wrong?

The answer to that question, my friends, is NOTHING. The paper was SO easy. My last
minute piety, constant pleading with the Universe, and maybe even the HOURS of studying had worked in my favor. I walked, nay, hopped, skipped, and jumped (for joy of a successful exam) out of the hall, ready to lunch, brunch and celebrate this newly obtained freedom with friends.

At a table in Big Chill, Khan Market, over iceteas, cheesy garlic bread, and pastas, we reminisced, of the many memories we had made over the 14 years in school. We remembered of crushes that were unrequited, and relationships that were regretted, of classes attended, and days bunked, of the teacher’s that had become mentors, and classmates that were now family. Over 2 hours and 2 slices of cheesecake, through stories and anecdotes, 14 years of love was shared, 14 years of life relived. These warm moments, however, had a tinge of sadness to them.

High School Graduations are a bittersweet moment, it signifies the end of one era of your life, one that is full of growth, discovery, and familiarity. You’re leaving behind the buildings, classes, routines, and people you’ve known for a majority of your formative years, it’s a little scary, I think. But graduations also emblematic of fresh beginnings, you enter a new era of your life, one that is marked with independence and self-discovery, where you get to traverse the depths of your being and personality. We had ALL reached realized this, consciously and subconsciously, but nobody said it. Instead affectionate smiles, and loving hugs were exchanged.

Soon, the conversation turned to that future, to College Acceptances, the exchanges became happier, hopeful, and more enthusiastic. We were excited for the beginning of college, for the chance of a new start and yet, I found it difficult to pay attention to the discussion. Suddenly, all my nervous, fidgety energy had returned. After all, I hadn’t been accepted to college yet, and now the uncertainty of the future looked me right in the eye and sneered, the floodgates of insecurity had been opened. I tucked away the negativity deep in my brain, and mustered up a smile, but deep inside me was coiled the question “Will I even get into College?”

After goodbyes were said, and promises to meet again were made, I went home. The moment I stepped into the familiar area, the stress of the day hit me. My body was overcome by exhaustion. I said hello to my mother, eyes barely open, went to my room, changed into a night suit and collapsed on my bed, with the hope that sleep would be my refuge from the self- doubt and diffidence.

It was not. I slept for 9 and a half uneasy hours, plagued by the same dream again and again- rejection upon rejection from all colleges, being known as a failure, fading away before I even shined. Not being able to take it anymore, I opened my eyes and decided to take a moment of introspection. I questioned why college acceptance was so important to me, and why was it so attached to my sense of being. And then, in my own personal EUREKA! Moment, the answer came to me. College was my shot at independence, at proving to myself that I can live without the constant supervision of my parents and sisters. It was also my chance to flourish personally and academically without the overshadowing doubts and insecurities of school life. This was my chance to become my true, authentic self, to break the cocoon, and be the beautiful butterfly I know I am. College, the distance from my family, and the sudden thrust into reality it provides are essential for this transformation.

To come off the high of this personal discovery, I opened my laptop, ready to re-watch a Netflix series for umpteenth time, and then I heard it. The distinct sound Gmail makes every time a new mail is received, and I looked at the top right corner of my screen, and I nearly fainted. There it was in BIG, bold, letters- ADMISSION DECISION FROM XYZ COLLEGE HAS BEEN UPLOADED. PLEASE CHECK ADMISSION PORTAL.

My fingers moved on their own, brain not really registering what was happening and BOOM, The Portal, with one of the most important decisions of my life was on my screen. I think it would be a GREAT time to mention that this college was my TOP choice, my DREAM college, so it’s safe to say I was little on edge. Sucking in a BIIIIG breath, along with every insecurity and doubt I’ve had and clicked on the green link. The link loaded and there it was, the decision, the other event that changed my life….

I GOT IN!!!!!!! With Scholarship!!!!!!
And in that moment, I felt an inner peace. No matter what my mind says, no matter how uneasy I feel, my talent, my work, and my effort will ALWAYS speak for itself.

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