If I could go back in time, I would probably have gone back to the time I was new at high school. Having lived only eighteen years of my life until now, this is a significant transition phase in my life since I joined a boarding school for my secondary education. Coming from a conservative, joint Marwari family in the town of Kolkata, I have thought it is good to be “polite”. In fact, my mother has always told me to “nurture friendship” as if it were a seed that must bloom into a strong, everlasting plant.
Boarding school was a huge challenge, but I hadn’t known that it would have hit me so hard. I remember spending the first night in dorm as I wondered “Vasvi, what have you done to yourself?” It was probably because I came from a very protected environment and the change was overwhelming through the new physical environment of faculty and buildings, and of course the lack of emotional connection at the start.
I’m going to cut out all the modesty here. I know for a fact that I have always helped people because I truly did feel like, but not ‘used them’ for my own self-interests. I realized only much later that some people had used me in many ways that I had never even suspected. What people thought about me would carry me away by a flood of emotions. Now, I understand that this way of thinking was so wrong. It is not good to be blinded by your emotions to such an extent that your intellect is completely forgotten.
The best moments were those moments where I had the time of my life with people who I will always value a lot. I never thought that cooking cup noodles during the dead silence of midnight would feel like an accomplishment. Especially, after procuring hot water from the housemother by behaving like I had caught the flu. Also, I had never known that I could play hockey after having the phobia of objects being thrown at me. These are just to name a few.
But if I really could go back in time I would probably just look at my new boarding life with a different outlook. I would have been sensible enough to know who all deserve my kindness and who all did not. I have lost friends who I really did care for during my four years of high school: some whose justifications for going away were beyond my understanding. It takes only seconds for people to start judging you for your decisions, even though they have not been in that particular situation themselves. But, ultimately, only you are in your shoes, no one else is. So, you need to be sure of what you are doing and that is what matters, indeed.
No matter how good you are you must say “no” at certain points of time. Even if you are no longer that person who always gives away their hard work by letting people copy assignments; even if you are no longer that person who has always offered to help; even if you are no longer that person who would always give everyone the ‘benefit of the doubt’, it is bloody important to say “no” when you must. It is not good to be gullible. No matter how much you trust a person, it is important to be aware and not just play dumb.
These are all life lessons that boarding school has taught me. I am glad that I went there and made some unforgettable memories as well as witnessed what true friendship is. But, most importantly, it has made me more emotionally stronger than I ever was.