I started off as a rebel. Used to question everything and did nothing unless i was convinced about its usefulness. Mom gave up on me trying to make me religious. I was the teacher’s nightmare in school and my parents used to be frequently called for complaints. I was later made school captain and i started functioning as a student union leader. However, i made sure I wasn’t sacked.
Then new blood (i.e. me) joined that institute (IITM) and quickly got subdued. I was forced to conform. People in the hostel suppressed my madness with constant banter. For a week I remember everyone avoided me. Because I was being myself. They tried to condition to behave the way everyone else there did. People would try and interfere with me every other moment. Having had a major personal disappointment just prior to joining IIT, i needed friends. And the only way i could make them was by conforming.
Then, there were complaints to my parents from my relatives that I’d become too arrogant. “It’s all because he has joined IIT”, they said. Parents, unfortunately, took their advice and tried to “reform” me. At one point, I even landed up on a psychiatrist’s couch. Nothing came out of it.
Yeah, I had become a “good boy”. Every action of mine was well thought of. I used to doubly check that I wasn’t offending anyone before doing or saying something. I religiously listened to my parents even when they said ridiculous stuff like “you should not be seen in public with a girl of your age”! LOL! I stopped playing games because I “wasn’t good enough” at them. Tried my best not to offend anyone. Did only “socially acceptable” stuff. I was indeed the “good boy”, pleasing all and offending none.
Then, suddenly to my surprise, I found out that I had lost all confidence in myself. Good but not great grades didn’t help either. Extra currics also suffered big time. As I became the modest wimp, I had lost all faith in myself. I ended up not enjoying IIT life as much as I should have.
Thankfully, somewhere down the line, I did one sensible thing and wrote CAT. 2 years in an IIM would give me another opportunity at a similar institution and opportunity to make new friends. My confidence started rising in 4th year at IIT. At the same time I started throwing tantrums.
First few days in IIMB I tried to be a “pseud” guy. Fell flat on my face. Returned to the “wimpy” mode. Had a jolly good time in 1st term, except for a personal disappointment. Started faring pretty well in both acads and extra currics. But still every action of mine was guided by the “shouldn’t offend” thought. The life I lived and the life I wanted to live were totally different. I wasn’t at all happy with myself and used to cry every other day (almost).
Somewhere down the line, I think i’ve changed back. Dunno how I did it though. Probably through spending time with myself. My confidence has never been higher. I have become exremely self-centered and arrogant. I shirk from responsibilities. I do only those things which I believe are useful. I live by the instinct and continously follow my heart. I forget my duties. I refuse to help people if I don’t want to help them. Have become a kinda “bad boy” now. Don’t know what people think of me and it doesn’t matter also. What matters most is that I am happy now. I have been on a perennial high for the last few days!
You must have a healthy disrespect for conformity and a healthy respect for rebellion.
– Prof. Ramnath Narayanswamy, as part of the course “Tracking Creative Boundaries”