To The 10 And Back
I am gonna kick start
the first of the two blogs that I am almost forced to write by my conscience.
This series is gonna go deep, so I can't promise that most of u will make any
head or tail outta it. It depends on how deep u wanna go.
Why am I doing this particular series of posts. For one, this is gonna be an eye-opener to many and probably to myself when I finish it off. Second, I feel compelled to write this down, especially after coming so close to the end.
The inspiration comes from many sources but the fact that I just got confirmation of my 10/10 score for the fourth semester was the kill.
This series is gonna maybe bring out a few things abt myself, and hence is very appropriate for the title of the blog itself viz. "I am ... umm, who am I ??"
Finally, I want to make it clear that at no point will I lose my humbleness and will I try to hurt others. I mean, I am gonna try my best to make sure u ppl don't say "What do u know, u r a 10 pointer. U don't know how it feels to .....". Plz, don't think that. The fact that a few ppl are gonna think like that is one reason I didn't blog earlier but I think I need to do this.
2.Why Now ??
I cud have done this
anytime earlier in the sem, but I never felt the urge to do it and well, I am
someone who doesn't do things unless the urge arises. I know it sounds normal
but when I say things I mean almost everything.
This fourth 10 that I scored was the most important for me, and not bcoz its the latest or any such naive thing. Its coz there was a bigger battle at stake. An inner battle. The sem that passed wasn't just yet another academic semester. It was a lot more for me. It was my biggest battle (biggest completed battle, bigger battles are still on :) ).... against many things. I had to fight back, in every sense of the word. The pressure from within was too enormous to bother about extrinsic pressures.
After the end-sems ver done I was like in a daze for almost a day before I got my senses back. I was like too exhausted to even be myself (looks like a nice statement na). It drew me out, emptied all my reserves.
There is more to a 10 than meets the eye. Its dark. It takes over you.
The problem is, I ain't like ur average tenner. Studies like hell, never takes his head outta the books, stinks in the lib day in and day out, doesn't talk to normal guys, has no feelings, doesn't play games etc etc (sorry I exaggerated). Heck, I ain't even half of that.
Had I been a sincere student, I cud have identified with a tenner. But no, its beyond that.
And to tell u the truth, I am happy I ain't like that. I do have a life.
Again, why now ??
Bcoz I have just gone thru the details of the battle and I think it wud help to share my thoughts on it. So, that's why now.
3.A Lesson Learnt
I lived a long time
thinking that hard-work wasn't necessary or essential to succeed. And I
did do without it for an year atleast (first sem was decent work). But once the
sem went real bad and I realized that I had started on the wrong foot (I think I
started out on my hands), I cudn't do much other than fall back to the basics.
The only prob was, I had never gone by the basics; I wasn't a text-book guy.
So, I had to kinda discover what hard-work really meant (actually, I am
exaggerating again, coz I still haven't hard-worked. The hard
was well, mildly hard ;) ). But to some extent, I cudn't do anything else. There
wasn't much margin for error.
And when I did finally confirm the result, I also confirmed a lesson to myself "Hard-work does pay at the end". Here's where the bad part starts.
U c, hard is a relative term. So, if u are in a habit of pushing urself, it doesn't mean u r working hard. If u wanna work-hard, it means u have to raise the standards above ur normal ones. Its relative. Its about beating urself.
I know ppl who have almost worked their backs off (I wanted this to b a "U" rated post, so I had to use backs) but they haven't got anything significant out. Why ??
I can't answer that fully but it's about you. Every one has a certain level of things and at one place or the other, it does come down to things like luck, chance, inherent skill etc.
What do u then, well, I dunno. I need an answer to that too.
So, for all those out there who think hard-work is just another fancy text-book term to be used only by professors and teachers, well, wake up. It helps. Hard-work does pay off.
4.The Dark Side
I know its strange to
think about anything bad connected with a 10, but believe me, its
sometimes a number that has haunted me for days. In this post I am going to give
a general picture of a few things that almost all tenners face.
U know, when I accidentally wrote abt that relative thing in my previous posts, I didn't realize how deep it was until I had a chat with a close friend of mine abt it. U c, being a 10 sure feels good, but it has its own pros and cons, just like any other score does.
This 10 has an effect on you, like the Ring in the LOTR. You covet it so much that u don't see other things around u, things that actually do matter. Things as simple as relations, emotions, life itself. The thing absorbs you. I sure feel good being a tenner but every time I get my marks in the midsems its like " Will I be defending my 10 with such marks ?", or "Is this good enough ?". It does not stop. Even though you have performed much better than most ppl, all u can do is sigh and hope that its good enough to give u an A, whereas other ppl around u who have scored an A are rejoicing. It even takes away the pleasure of scoring an A grade. Its that bad. When I did end up doing bad in my 1st midsems for reasons I can't put here, I felt a guilt in me. Like I wasn't capable of carrying the 10 anymore; and it was killing me. I spent weeks thinking at nights on how to handle myself and whether I should think of being captivated by this 10 and work all out to regain it or just stay cool and do as much as I can and not be intimidated by the 10. Theoretically, I shud have chosen the latter, I know that's the right thing to do. U shouldn't get intimidated, in no circumstances. But I chose the former. And I know most of u will say that I did do the right thing coz I ended up scoring a 10.
But I know I chose wrong. I will elaborate more in the next post.
U c, ppl start creating an image abt u. U don't have a choice nemore. Ppl expect something from u, almost for granted. And it ain't good, not at all. Atleast for someone like me who values his independence and his moods above all else. I don't want to care abt what others expect from me, yet I am forced to. I think its getting kinda hazy.
Another problem is that u r forced to work hard even on courses that are soooo damn boring and don't even deserve to be worked upon. But u still have to slog on them, while the rest of the ppl can easily enjoy and amuse themselves with more interesting subjects. This was one thing that personally made me feel like this 10 business was a major let-down. It was forcing me to do things that I knew I shouldn't. I mean, there were subjects I wanted to go deeper into but I had to sacrifice the time to cope up on other boring subjects just coz I wasn't assured of an A in it (though I was pretty sure of a B in them). I mean this is the worst part of it. The entire "good education" thing was at stake due to this 10. I feel that atleast some part of my problems are reaching u.
And another thing that this 10 throws at you (but which I triumphantly stepped over) is the choice of electives. There are always electives that are known to be "grade-lifters" and those electives which are "challenging but tough". Any day before entering IIT I wud have chosen the challenging thing without a second thought. But now, being a tenner and that image looming and hovering above me, I had an extra weight on me. What shud I do. Go for the grade-savers or for the challenge. Now, I will let u in on one major fact. Most ppl I know, though not tenners, don't even give it a second tot. I asked them y they chose so_and_so elective and the simple answer I got was "The prof is cool. Gives a lot of A's". And when I ask them what the course is about, its like "I dunno. Ppl say its easy". What the hell man !!
Where are u ppl. IIT or in school. And this is so prevelant that I get these looks from ppl "Hey, y r u even asking this. Don't u know which course to take ? ". I mean the whole point of introduction of electives has broken down.
So, if u want to choose an elective, its like a two_minute_recipe
step 1: look at all the courses
step 2:strike-off the courses that have a tuff course
step 3:strike-off the courses that have a prof who ain't very lenient in grading
step 4:look for courses ver u can easily impress the prof and Voila !! , u r done.
U have a list of courses and all u have to do is pick one and pretend that u like it and have an interest in it. Simple eh ??
Never appealed to me though, this whole idea of electives to save grades.
So, what did I do ? I'll answer that in the next post, which is gonna encapsulate how I handled things. This post was meant to be how a tenner feels, not how I feel.
This is it ppl, the
crux of the entire series. When I started off on the series yesterday, I wanted
to share with u all the feelings that I had being a tenner. Sure u all know or
can guess how it positively helps u by giving confidence and so on but
somehow no one bothers to think abt the negatives. The thing is, everything
has a +ve and a -ve. Everything. That has been my guideline at the worst of
times even. I am gonna talk abt the negatives here, coz somewhere deep inside, I
am sarcastic and its the -ves that shine and amaze me rather than the +ves.
Continuing on things that I left in the previous post, I must tell you that everyone has an image of a tener in their minds. A certain set of characteristics that you associate with a tenner, sometimes even physical characteristics (a friend of mine recently showed my photograph to his friends and the first thing they all told him was "He doesn't look like a tenner" :)) ). It creates a profile of urs, whether u like it or not. Somehow I can't digest the feeling that there is a profile of me out there in ppl's mind that isn't truly me. There area few tenners who really are like their profile suggests. But not all, atleast not me. And it kills me from within to see how ppl react to me at times. Some go so very sweet when they talk to me just coz I have scored a 10 and I know they won't even bat an eyelid if I weren't a tenner. Its that bad. U lose urself, whether u like it or not. Now I can't possibly go around telling ppl that I ain't like what u think I am. Fortunately, my wing mates atleast know who I really am and they respect me for that and I respect them for this mere approval of my true from.
U know, if u ask me, I never wanted to be a tenner. It wasn't something I worked for. Back in 1st sem the only thing I knew (or was supposed to know) was that I have to do well to get a branch-change. But when the 10 happened, the scenario changed. My plans now had a lower limit. I cudn't go below a certain level now. Why ?? Coz I wasn't supposed to. "A tenner doesn't do ....". I mean, I never wanted to be wearing the cloak of 10 over me but I cudn't help it. It was stuck to me.
To tell u the truth, this is what I wanted :- 8 point someone, mech. engg., living life very cool at my own pace, enjoying life and going beyond grades forever, to spend precious time trying to discover life rather than slog on sick courses,..... the list is endless. But I am sure u get the picture. Now imagine this, cud I do this after scoring a 10 ?? I mean, what ppl or rather "society" wud say is that I ended up below where I cud have been. And I will confess. I didn't feel myself when I took CSE. Things r different now. I am making most of what has come my way (luckily, CSE still has a lot of classic mathematical theory in it, which I love). Now u know why I blogged abt society that much. Coz I was myself a victim and worst of all, ppl never saw the scars, they thought they were like joy-marks. I know half of u will b like "what the hell is he talking abt. Surely CSE is better than Mech.". Yes, I know. But as I told u all, my independence and my likings are more important to me than facts. I can't step over myself like most ppl unknowingly do. Its like disrespecting yourself. Why ??
Is it wrong to think and do differently. Of course not. Every person is born different and surely God knows better than to create ppl vth differing personalities. Why do things that are known to b rite. Why not do things that u think are right and u r comfortable with rather than walk down a path that u don't want to go ?? A question as simple as this has no answers. Ppl will simply turn their heads away. I can't.
At the beginning of the sem, when I was exposed to a real crap course (my batchmates know which course I am talking abt), I kinda lost faith in acads and I think I was right. There is no use sulking in the heat of such stupid courses. But when I told bout these feelings of mine to a friend, he responded "Anshul, u r a tenner. U are not supposed to behave like that, atleast not u". That was it right there. I felt like I was being cornered. I wasn't supposed to. Why ??
Just coz a two-digit number hovers around me. No. I can't accept that.
When the electives issue came up for the 1st time last sem, I spent almost a week trying to fight off the fear of grades over choosing good courses. Finally I won. I decided I would take good courses rather than easy ones. But, it seemed I was too late. 4 of my electives were rejected coz I was late in submitting requests :( I had no choice. The only alternative left was a course that was easy.
But when the same issue rose up for the next sem, I didn't wait. I attacked early and I am happy to say that I chose courses that ver real good and interesting rather than the drab ones.
U know, it wasn't easy. But I was predetermined not to b a victim again. I had to fight it. This little thing in itself was a very big victory for me. Very big.
I don't know whether these courses will b responsible for my stepping down from the 10 or not but frankly, I feel I have won the war even before it started. I don't care what I score. I am gonna do my best, regardless of what happens and what the society says. I don't care. Its my life, my own life.
Remember I talked abt being victimized by the power of this 10 in the early part of last sem when I did my 1st mids badly. I think now u'll understand y I felt at a loss. The whole point of education is to teach u something and not just expect u to mug things and blurt them out. But when I chose to work to regain my 10, I must confess (and I am sure that most ppl in my place wouldn't even realize this) that I gave in. I lost right there. I chose to give time to even those filthy courses just coz I had chosen to regain my 10. But the guilt was so strong in me that I actually discovered a new weapon. Hard-work. For this, I don't wholly regret my decision. U c, there is always a good side to things.
U know, there are some things to which u can just close ur eyes and they will continue feeding on u and u will b in a state of daze and won't realize what's happening. Just like say when someone starts taking drugs. The person, after a while gives in to the fact that its destroying him and he just closes his eyes to the facts. That is what a 10 can do. I mean, what I experienced last sem when I had to decide on what to do next after my 1st mids was just too much to ask of a poor soul. I never felt so battered before. I mean, I knew the worst that cud happen was spi 8.8, which means a cpi of 9.7 !! (just checked in calc, so don't worry). I mean, imagine a guy getting worried for days tho he knows happen wat may, he'll atleast score a 9.7. This was my condition. I cudn't even pity myself, coz once u have decided to go on vth something, u have to go on vth full force, and no self-pitying at all.
That's y I considered my last 10 to be more than just a 10. There is still a very important (most imp. actually) angle to it that I can't write about due to personal reasons but if u even feel a bit of the pain that I went thru, I will b satisfied.
U know, life ain't all that sunny. Its dark too. Every room has its own dark corners an bright walls. There is no denying it.
I just hope that ppl don't attribute an image to someone just by seeing the materialistic aspects. The im-materialistic ones are the ones that really matter.
Don't learn, but discover. sounds nice eh ?, my own creation :)
When I was telling
about my not_so_enthusiastic inclination into continuing to slog with studies to
a friend of mine, she responded "..Anshul, u have been given this intelligence,
wouldn't it be a shame if u didn't work on it....". Shame,
the word hit me hard. Hmm, was it that bad. I mean, did I sign up for
this deal. Well, I am sure happy about the reapings that I am getting but is
this what I asked for ? Sure its a good thing to score well, but is it a
responsibility to score well given that u have a good brain ? I am not saying
its not. But is it ??
There was this quote from the movie National Treasure that Nicolas Cage makes, "If there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action". Is it true ? Well, he was referring to a crisis but is it that u have to take on the responsibility whether u like it or not ?
I mean, sure this is a debatable topic and it did need clarification for me to move on. I was in a fix. I didn't want to slog. I was happy and wud b happy with decent marks, 8 ish. But once the 10 came, well, it became a responsibility. I cud make a 10. But does that mean I shud make a 10. Then it dawned on me (actually it dawned just now). There are many in IIT's who can make a 10, but they do not. If I didn't press on, I wud b one of them. Is it wrong to b like them ? I guess not. Its as simple as priorities. Priorities are personal and also dynamic, that is, they change with time and situation. But still, I still sometimes think of the shame that the entire issue brought up for me.
In one way, its good. It pushed me to do things that would help me. Sure it might be painful on the way and I had to slog thru some very sick courses, but, that's how it is. That's the way things are. Good and bad. We sure cud do without the sick courses, but then I had to go thru it like many others did. Sure the education system is all messed up but this is the education system that is in right now. It won't change overnight.
I guess that tho I cribbed a lot, I must accept that there are two sides to everything. The only thing was, that I hoped u ppl wud understand that 10 is not all that it looks like. It isn't.
In my first days in IITK, I and most ppl understood one thing - ppl are not what they look like. Its not written on anyone's face or behavior that he/she is such_and_such.
Likewise, just bcoz of an image, don't assume that the person will also be like that.
I will wrap it up here
with some final words.
Say there's a guy A. Say, he has an image in public or rather in society. Call this image B.
The chances that B is truly representing A are not 100%. I think its only about 50%.
The other 50% mostly try to forget their original image and try to dwell in their made up image, image B in this case. Now, maybe the new image is good, but it is false. It isn't the natural image. And I think one shouldn't be intimidated by anyone, not even by his own image. There is a reason why all of us are born different (a blog on this will b thr soon) and I think we shud b what v are. Try and do the best vth what v r given rather than try to fit out.
Images don't reflect upon the person truly. It might not even be remotely close to what the person really is.
I'll conclude by saying that DO NOT ASSES A PERSON BY HIS FACE OR OTHER PHYSICAL FEATURES OR HIS BEHAVIORS OR HIS IMAGE.
That shud be all. Thanks for being so patient.