Metaphors and Me
To speak metaphorically, and quite literally, I am standing at a crossroads. I am at a point in my life where I can feel the reigns slipping from my hands, and many of the important pillars that support my identity crumbling. I am at a point where I wish I could have more control over my future, over the colleges I would like to go to. More importantly, I wish I would have more control over the momentum that I can feel building in regards to my future. It is difficult because my parents have always been supportive of me in regards to my educational choices and have always emphasized that they would remain understanding regardless of what I chose. Slowly and just recently however, I began to realize that their expectations were secretly much higher than what I knew I could confidently deal with. Fact is, as Senior year approaches, the stakes are rising, whether I want them to or not, when all I really want to do is hole myself up in a corner somewhere with a good book and simply escape the urban jungle. To answer the question “Where am I?” yet another cliché metaphor may actually seem appropriate. To put it plainly, I am caught somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Surrounded by internees, young authors, founders of non-profits, triple-legacies and multimillion-dollar family kids it sometimes feels as though Andover students are drilled, or more accurately, subtly conditioned to have only one all-encompassing thought; “I don’t want to disappoint anyone.” This thought, mixed with questions of what we could possibly have done differently this past year to end up in a better place, and what we would do if the worst-case scenario came true, makes it hard not to succumb to a sense of urgency and hyper-alertness that is simply unhealthy.
To come back to the original answer: so I am caught between a rock and a hard place, subconscious expectations and a high-pressure environment, while attempting to juggle conflicting emotions of helplessness and anticipation for the road that lies ahead. Completing Upper Year about two weeks ago with minimal numbers of sleep doesn’t help either. So yeah, coming to Niswarth I concede that I am pretty much a mess. But honestly speaking, I think that is okay.
By defining where I am right now (speaking in pre-Niswarth terms) it becomes easy for me to identify the parts of my life that have become toxic and in particular the parts of my life that I intentionally want to cut out of my thoughts for the next three weeks. As is often the case when travelling though, there are other pieces of ourselves that we leave behind unintentionally, albeit not unconsciously.
As we approach Mumbai, we leave behind, not only our families but also our habits, the lifestyle that we have become accustomed to, and for many of us, our homes. I may not be leaving behind my actual home (or whatever that means), but there is still a semblance thereof. Andover is my second home, even if it is a home that brings with itself a lot of baggage. It is exactly this baggage that I would like to leave behind as we travel to India.
For some, the end of spring term and breaking for summer means packing up all their baggage, both in the figurative and in the literal sense, and sending everything off to a remote storage location, not to be thought of again until the end of summer, only to continue right where they left off earlier when the boxes are delivered in September. But for others, myself included, summer means packing up all your baggage, cramming bits and pieces into every little niche of your suitcases and boxes, and carrying it all back. Your baggage follows you home. Sometimes, this choice becomes inevitable, but for me, coming to Niswarth meant that all of that baggage could be forgotten for a short period of time. So I guess that would answer the question.
Perhaps it is a little selfish of me to make use of Niswarth as a healing process for my own mentality, but imaginably (and I refer to Nipun Mehta’s graduation speech) by moving my mindset away from a “Me-Me-Me” approach- the outcome of a very intense and stressful year- I could be successful at applying a meaningful approach a little more to my own life. And allow me to finish by asking the following: what if Andover needs a little more selfishness through generosity, rather than what we advertise as pure selflessness? Maybe that would be a good thing, and the old mindset could be something that we could all leave behind.