The 30 year-old Undergrad


Never in a million years had I thought that I would celebrate my thirtieth birthday in a college canteen. My college canteen. With my eighteen-year-old classmates no less! But that’s what life is about – some wonderfully adventure-laden curve balls. A few years ago, I had what most would consider a great job, working for a luxury lifestyle magazine. I got to rub elbows with celebrities, go on paid-for spa weekends, and I had the freedom to write about things that interested me. It was a great gig. But then one day someone asked me the question that stopped me in my tracks: “What is your passion in life?”
I didn’t have an answer. I loved writing, but I was beginning to feel burnt out. The glitz and hoopla were a by-product of my job profile and I could take it or leave it without much of a hem and haw. And work left me with little time for any recreation, so those were pretty much the only aspects to scrutinise while looking for this absconding passion of mine. Had I then, completely lost touch with myself? So much so that I’d forgotten what it was like to have a true passion? Was I dissolving into the career paradigm? Apparently I was.
After some intense soul searching I came to a decision – I was going to quit my cushy job and go in search for my raison d’ être. It was certainly not the easiest decision to make and was met with plenty of opposition from friends, colleagues and family. But I stuck to my guns, took a big, steadying gulp and submitted my letter of resignation. Th e last month of my tenure was bitter-sweet, and more often than not, I would find myself submerged in a wave of panic. I was going to be unemployed in a few days. I didn’t really have a plan for my life now. I was free-falling, lost and beginning to feel the terrific weight of my decision. I was terrified.
There were moments when I thought I had made a huge blunder. I began to believe the words of people around me – “You’re being such a spoilt nilly! ‘Searching for yourself’, hah! You’re being a cliché. Enough of your nakhraas! Don’t be a quitter.” This last bit struck me hard. You see, I had left college nearly a decade ago without having completed my BA degree, and as a result, was not a graduate. This had, thankfully, not affected my professional career. But when it came to dreaming about applying for a college course abroad, it made a distinctive hole in my erstwhile happy bubble.
The first few days of unemployment were surreal. I felt anchorless and floated about in a daze. But once the giddiness settled, I began to find my feet again. I began to indulge in things I hadn’t had time for. I made a week-long trip to Singapore and did the whole walking-about-witha- map-for-directions thing. I joined several classes of interest – psychology, Western and Indian art history, Spanish… I even enrolled in a Diploma course in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and worked with children for a year and a half. I was beginning to enjoy discovering myself again, learning new things and having different experiences. I even tried to complete my graduation via correspondence, but that idea didn’t really lift off the ground.
So I began to mull over the next big step – full-time college. Was I up to it? It had been nearly a decade since I had truly hit the books. The ECCE Diploma course had been more about practical application than theory, although it had given me a taste of student life again. And then there was the age factor to consider. I was going to be considerably older than my teenage classmates. How would they react to that? How would I react to that? Would I fit in at all? There was only one way to find out. I took a deep breath and committed the next three years of my life to being an undergrad student.
There were a few hiccups. Like the day when I went to submit my FYBA enrollment form. The  professor at the desk was an old junior college classmate of mine. She thought I had probably come to submit a younger sister’s form. The onus of explaining to her that I hadn’t completed my graduation and was back to cross it off my bucket list was on me. Then there was the day of the orientation, when the security guard stopped me from entering college asking, “Baby kahan hai?” (There’s a preschool on the college campus as well). Again, I explained how I was there for myself and not a supposed child!
So yes, I was a 30-year-old undergrad who brought in her birthday at the college canteen. I will be a 31-year-old undergrad soon. And you know what? I’m loving every minute of it! The experience of being at college as a consciously made choice rather than an expected course of events is far sweeter. Getting the opportunity to learn on a daily basis is a gift . And righting the wrongs of the past is priceless. I’m still on the journey of discovery, and I’m thankful for it. I took the road less travelled, and that has made all the difference.

“I was beginning to enjoy discovering myself again, learning new things and having different experiences. I even tried to complete my graduation via correspondence, but that idea didn’t really lift off the ground”

Volume 1 Issue 3



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here