On My Graduation

“We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.

We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us. What will become of us? We will lose our friends and family, who will no longer recognize us. We will wind up alone, in the cold void of starry space, with nothing and no one to hold on to.

Of course this is exactly what happens. But here’s the trick. We wind up in space, but not alone. Instead we are tapped into an unquenchable, undepletable, inexhaustible source of wisdom, consciousness, companionship. Yeah, we lose friends. But we find friends too, in places we never thought to look. And they’re better friends, truer friends.

And we’re better and truer to them.

Do you believe me?” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

I was afraid. I was afraid to be the best of what I could be. Sometimes, it crawls down my spine – the fear. The consequences of the choices that I made knowing fully well that I’m rolling the dice and it might not always work in my favor.

The choice of leaving a frolicking advertising career to aim for something better, something yet undefined…

The choice of flying out of the comfort of my homely nest in Mumbai and truly pursuing my dream of being in New York

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

Juggling courses, internships, jobs, friendships, and relationships from day one. It’s not much some would say. Aren’t we all supposed to do this?

I’d made only one promise to myself – “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to give it my all. Every waking second of it… I’m going to be here, in every moment. Breathing every breath with you as if this is the only moment that ever mattered. I’m going to wake up tomorrow to look back. And when I look back I want to confidently know that there’s nothing I would’ve done differently. It could be an assignment, or e-mail or a random conversation with my Uber driver. I’m going to be present.”

Being present meant I had to be open, honest and vulnerable. Vulnerability was not something that came naturally. But whenever I gathered the courage to let it be, to truly reach the inner depths of my consciousness and push out those hopes and aspirations into the world, amazing things happened.

At every juncture, there were two options – grow or stay. I chose to grow and whenever I did. There it was again, that creepy crawl down my spine. It would be easy to define it as fear and run away from it but my body said to me, this could be excitement too, you know? This could be the same chill running down your spine before you jump on to a roller coaster ride.

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

There’s a steep climb and you’re gaining potential energy. Then you hit a tipping point and the ride drops into a crazy mesh of twists and turns. You’re screaming with joy, with fear, with delight and then it comes to a halt. You get off the ride and two things could happen – you either puke because you couldn’t handle it or you buy a ticket for another ride. But in both cases, you feel a rush in the pit of your tummy, which you wouldn’t have felt, had you chose to stay behind and just watch.

That feeling at the pit of your tummy – that’s called being alive. And I want to be alive for as long as the clock is ticking and my heart is beating.

As I graduate from my wonderful program at NYU, I’m thankful for everything that has happened to lead me to a space like this. I’m grateful for every snippet of conversation – good or bad. I’m indebted to friends, family, colleagues and strangers who made me what I am today. You’ve contributed to this in ways you may not know.

Be rest assured that your contribution will pay off. This woman is going to make sure that it does.

A warm hug, a heartfelt smile and if you’re really lucky then probably with an ice cream on the side…