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Gap Years: What You Should Consider

Fox Business has added an article about why gap years are an important and productive part of life. Read it here or from the transcript below:

While most high school seniors are working hard to complete college applications, not every student is planning to head to campus next fall.

Taking a gap year after high school, common in many European countries, and the trend has become more popular with students in the U.S. as the cost of college continues to rise along with outstanding student loan debt.

“Students can use the year to refresh skills, gain experience, and learn of career opportunities that may ultimately direct their academic path,” says Rita Toliver-Roberts, vice president of Academic Advancement at Peirce College. “Students can also utilize this time to search for additional financial support, such as scholarships or grants.”

Rather than jumping into college after high school, some experts argue that taking time off allows students to explore interests, gain valuable experience and in turn, perform stronger academically when they enter college.

Research conducted by Robert Clagett, former dean of admissions at Middlebury College, shows students who take a gap year tend to outperform those who don’t. Undergraduates at Middlebury College and the University of North Carolina who had taken a gap year before enrolling in college on average had a GPA 0.1 to 0.4 higher than predicted based on high school academic credentials.

“When students take this kind of time, they don’t forget how to learn–they’re much better students,” says Holly Bull, president of the Center for Interim Programs, LLC. “I’ve had parents tell me their child would probably have dropped out after first semester or year because they were so turned off by their classes in the academic experience, but a gap year helped them get excited and gave them a focus.”

Creating a Plan with Purpose

Students should ensure they are taking a gap year for the right reasons, such as feeling underprepared for the academic rigors of college, needing more time to find the right-fit school  or wanting to seek out experiential opportunities and work/career experience, according to Toliver-Roberts.

“One of the bad reasons to take a gap year can be to just take a break–in our competitive society, taking a break, for the sake of simply ‘resting’ should not be an option,” she says.

Bull also warns students against taking time off only for the sake of reapplying to schools in the hopes of being admitted to a “better” college.

“It’s not a guarantee and it really defeats some of the core value of the gap year which is… really allowing somebody to say, who am I? What am I interested in? Let me go and follow up on these things and see where that goes and lead from that,” she says.

It’s vital for students to create a plan and identify specific goals for their gap year to avoid wasting time and money, says Robin Pendoley, founder and CEO of Thinking Beyond Borders.

“A gap year should be well structured to fill that specific need of finding that sense of direction and purpose for college,” he says. “It’s an important investment for them to be making of time, money and energy so that when they go on to college, they’re going to be well-prepared to do that and to dive in passionately and effectively for those four years.”

Finding the Right Gap Year Options

Depending on their goals and financial abilities, students have a plethora of options available to fill their gap year, from organized gap year programs, volunteer and service opportunities, internships, part-time jobs and specialized certifications.

“You have a whole pile of programs where there’s more structured support and they’re hooked in with peers and they’re doing service work, adventure travel sightseeing, language immersion,” says Bull.

Exploring different fields of interest can help students decide what major to pursue in college and gain valuable skills at the same time to later quantify to a future employer, says Liz Kuenstner, a former gap year student through Thinking Beyond Borders and a graduate of Columbia University.

“It can give you concrete experience towards what you think that you’re looking for but it also might reveal that what you think you’re really interested in, you don’t actually want to do for the next four years of your life,” she says. “If you’re doing something pre-professional, it’s really valuable just to get inside the office and see what day to day life is like and how people adjust.”

Gaining gap year work experience not only helps students become more acquainted with the ins and outs of a professional atmosphere, Pendoley explains it can also lead to additional resume-building opportunities.

“After having four different internships over two semesters, going to college and applying for internships, fellowships, jobs during their college experience, [students are] being offered almost everything they apply for specifically because they have four different experiences and employers really value that,” he says.

Because students can customize gap year plans to fit their financial, social and professional needs, finding a sense of direction for college rather than floundering from major to major is an invaluable investment, says Kuenstner.

“Having very small group cohesion in travelling with 15 other students for a year provided me something that Columbia certainly never did—it was a more intimate, personalized experience,” she says. “I wouldn’t say that I came out at the end knowing exactly what I wanted to do, but it gave me the tools to think about how I wanted to do college.”

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Thank you to my…

Thank you to my distinguished friends, President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price and Rev. Charles Howard for inviting me to share a few reflections on this joyous occasion. It is an honor and privilege to congratulate you — UPenn’s class of 2012.

Right now each one of you is sitting on the runway of life primed for takeoff. You are some of the world’s most gifted, elite, and driven college graduates – and you are undeniably ready to fly. So what I’m about to say next may sound a bit crazy. I want to urge you, not to fly, but to – walk. Four years ago, you walked into this marvelous laboratory of higher learning. Today, heads held high, you walk to receive your diplomas. Tomorrow, you will walk into a world of infinite possibilities.

But walking, in our high-speed world, has unfortunately fallen out of favor. The word “pedestrian” itself is used to describe something ordinary and commonplace. Yet, walking with intention has deep roots. Australia’s aboriginal youth go on walkabouts as a rite of passage; Native American tribes conduct vision quests in the wilderness; in Europe, for centuries, people have walked the Camino de Santiago, which spans the breadth of Spain. Such pilgrims place one foot firmly in front of the other, to fall in step with the rhythms of the universe and the cadence of their own hearts.

Back in 2005, six months into our marriage, my wife and I decided to “step it up” ourselves and go on a walking pilgrimage. At the peak of our efforts with ServiceSpace, we wondered if we had the capacity to put aside our worldly success and seek higher truths. Have you ever thought of something and then just known that it had to happen? It was one of those things. So we sold all our major belongings, and bought a one-way ticket to India. Our plan was to head to Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, since he had always been an inspiration to us, and then walk South. Between the two of us, we budgeted a dollar a day, mostly for incidentals — which meant that for our survival we had to depend utterly on the kindness of strangers. We ate whatever food was offered and slept wherever place was offered.

Now, I do have to say, such ideas come with a warning: do not try this at home, because your partner might not exactly welcome this kind of honeymoon. 🙂

For us, this walk was a pilgrimage — and our goal was simply to be in a space larger than our egos, and to allow that compassion to guide us in unscripted acts of service along the way. Stripped entirely of our comfort zone and accustomed identities, could we still “keep it real”? That was our challenge.

We ended up walking 1000 kilometers over three months. In that period, we encountered the very best and the very worst of human nature — not just in others, but also within ourselves.

Soon after we ended the pilgrimage, my uncle casually popped the million dollar question at the dinner table: “So, Nipun, what did you learn from this walk?” I didn’t know where to begin. But quite spontaneously, an acronym — W-A-L-K — came to mind, which encompassed the key lessons we had learned, and continue to relearn, even to this day. As you start the next phase of your journey, I want to share those nuggets with the hope that it might illuminate your path in some small way too.

The W in WALK stands for Witness. When you walk, you quite literally see more. Your field of vision is nearly 180 degrees, compared to 40 degrees when you’re traveling at 62 mph. Higher speeds smudge our peripheral vision, whereas walking actually broadens your canvas and dramatically shifts the objects of your attention. For instance, on our pilgrimage, we would notice the sunrise everyday, and how, at sunset, the birds would congregate for a little party of their own. Instead of adding Facebook friends online, we were actually making friends in person, often over a cup of hot “chai”. Life around us came alive in a new way.

A walking pace is the speed of community. Where high speeds facilitate separation, a slower pace gifts us an opportunity to commune.

As we traversed rural India at the speed of a couple of miles per hour, it became clear how much we could learn simply by bearing witness to the villagers’ way of life. Their entire mental model is different — the multiplication of wants is replaced by the basic fulfillment of human needs.When you are no longer preoccupied with asking for more and more stuff; then you just take what is given and give what is taken. Life is simple again. A farmer explained it to us this way: “You cannot make the clouds rain more, you cannot make the sun shine less. They are just nature’s gifts — take it or leave it.”

When the things around you are seen as gifts, they are no longer a means to an end; they are the means and the end. And thus, a cow-herder will tend to his animals with the compassion of a father, a village woman will wait 3 hours for a delayed bus without a trace of anger, a child will spend countless hours fascinated by stars in the galaxy, and finding his place in the vast cosmos.

So with today’s modernized tools at your ready disposal, don’t let yourself zoom obliviously from point A to point B on the highways of life; try walking the backroads of the world, where you will witness a profoundly inextricable connection with all living things.

The A in WALK stands for Accept. When walking in this way, you place yourself in the palm of the universe, and face its realities head on. We walked at the peak of summer, in merciless temperatures hovering above 120 degrees. Sometimes we were hungry, exhausted and even frustrated. Our bodies ached for just that extra drink of water, a few more moments in the shade, or just that little spark of human kindness. Many times we received that extra bit, and our hearts would overflow with gratitude. But sometimes we were abruptly refused, and we had to cultivate the capacity to accept the gifts hidden in even the most challenging of moments.

I remember one such day, when we approached a rest house along a barren highway. As heavy trucks whizzed past, we saw a sign, announcing that guests were hosted at no charge. “Ah, our lucky day,” we thought in delight. I stepped inside eagerly. The man behind the desk looked up and asked sharply, “Are you here to see the temple?” A simple yes from my lips would have instantly granted us a full meal and a room for the night. But it wouldn’t have been the truth. So instead, I said, “Well, technically, no sir. We’re on a walking pilgrimage to become better people. But we would be glad to visit the temple.” Rather abruptly, he retorted: “Um, sorry, we can’t host you.” Something about his curt arrogance triggered a slew of negative emotions. I wanted to make a snide remark in return and slam the door on my way out. Instead, I held my raging ego in check. In that state of physical and mental exhaustion, it felt like a Herculean task– but through the inner turmoil a voice surfaced within, telling me to accept the reality of this moment.

There was a quiet metamorphosis in me. I humbly let go of my defenses, accepted my fate that day, and turned to leave without a murmur. Perhaps the man behind the counter sensed this shift in me, because he yelled out just then, “So what exactly are you doing again?” After my brief explanation he said, “Look, I can’t feed you or host you, because rules are rules. But there are restrooms out in the back. You could sleep outside the male restroom and your wife can sleep outside the female restroom.” Though he was being kind, his offer felt like salt in my wounds. We had no choice but to accept.

That day we fasted and that night, we slept by the bathrooms. A small lie could’ve bought us an upgrade, but that would’ve been no pilgrimage. As I went to sleep with a wall separating me from my wife, I had this beautiful, unbidden vision of a couple climbing to the top of a mountain from two different sides. Midway through this difficult ascent, as the man contemplated giving up, a small sparrow flew by with this counsel, “Don’t quit now, friend. Your wife is eager to see you at the top.” He kept climbing. A few days later, when the wife found herself on the brink of quitting, the little sparrow showed up with the same message. Step by step, their love sustained their journey all the way to the mountaintop. Visited by the timely grace of this vision, I shed a few grateful tears — and this story became a touchstone not only in our relationship, but many other noble friendships as well.

So I encourage you to cultivate equanimity and accept whatever life tosses into your laps — when you do that, you will be blessed with the insight of an inner transformation that is yours to keep for all of time.

The L in WALK stands for Love. The more we learned from nature, and built a kind of inner resilience to external circumstances, the more we fell into our natural state — which was to be loving. In our dominant paradigm, Hollywood has insidiously co-opted the word, but the love I’m talking about here is the kind of love that only knows one thing — to give with no strings attached. Purely. Selflessly.

Most of us believe that to give, we first need to have something to give. The trouble with that is, that when we are taking stock of what we have, we almost always make accounting errors. Oscar Wilde once quipped, “Now-a-days, people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” We have forgotten how to value things without a price tag. Hence, when we get to our most abundant gifts — like attention, insight, compassion — we confuse their worth because they’re, well, priceless.

On our walking pilgrimage, we noticed that those who had the least were most readily equipped to honor the priceless. In urban cities, the people we encountered began with an unspoken wariness: “Why are you doing this? What do you want from me?” In the countryside, on the other hand, villagers almost always met us with an open-hearted curiosity launching straight in with: “Hey buddy, you don’t look local. What’s your story?”

In the villages, your worth wasn’t assessed by your business card, professional network or your salary. That innate simplicity allowed them to love life and cherish all its connections.

Extremely poor villagers, who couldn’t even afford their own meals, would often borrow food from their neighbors to feed us. When we tried to refuse, they would simply explain: “To us, the guest is God. This is our offering to the divine in you that connects us to each other.” Now, how could one refuse that? Street vendors often gifted us vegetables; in a very touching moment, an armless fruit-seller once insisted on giving us a slice of watermelon. Everyone, no matter how old, would be overjoyed to give us directions, even when they weren’t fully sure of them. 🙂 And I still remember the woman who generously gave us water when we were extremely thirsty — only to later discover that she had to walk 10 kilometers at 4AM to get that one bucket of water. These people knew how to give, not because they had a lot, but because they knew how to love life. They didn’t need any credit or assurance that you would ever return to pay them back. Rather, they just trusted in the pay-it-forward circle of giving.

When you come alive in this way, you’ll realize that true generosity doesn’t start when you have some thing to give, but rather when there’s nothing in you that’s trying to take. So I hope that you will make all your precious moments an expression of loving life.

And lastly, the K in WALK stands for Know Thyself.

Sages have long informed us that when we serve others unconditionally, we shift from the me-to-the-we and connect more deeply with the other. That matrix of inter-connections allows for a profound quality of mental quietude. Like a still lake undisturbed by waves or ripples, we are then able to see clearly into who we are and how we can live in deep harmony with the environment around us.

When one foot walks, the other rests. Doing and being have to be in balance.

Our rational mind wants to rightfully ensure progress, but our intuitive mind also needs space for the emergent, unknown and unplanned to arise. Doing is certainly important, but when we aren’t aware of our internal ecosystem, we get so vested in our plans and actions, that we don’t notice the buildup of mental residue. Over time, that unconscious internal noise starts polluting our motivations, our ethics and our spirit. And so, it is critical to still the mind. A melody, after all, can only be created with the silence in between the notes.

As we walked — witnessed, accepted, loved — our vision of the world indeed grew clearer. That clarity, paradoxically enough, blurred our previous distinctions between me versus we, inner transformation versus external impact, and selfishness versus selflessness. They were inextricably connected. When a poor farmer gave me a tomato as a parting gift, with tears rolling down his eyes, was I receiving or giving? When sat for hours in silent meditation, was the benefit solely mine or would it ripple out into the world? When I lifted the haystack off an old man’s head and carried it for a kilometer, was I serving him or serving myself?

Which is to say, don’t just go through life — grow through life. It will be easy and tempting for you to arrive at reflexive answers — but make it a point, instead, to acknowledge mystery and welcome rich questions … questions that nudge you towards a greater understanding of this world and your place in it.

That’s W-A-L-K. And today, at this momentous milestone of your life, you came in walking and you will go out walking. As you walk on into a world that is increasingly aiming to move beyond the speed of thought, I hope you will each remember the importance of traveling at the speed of thoughtfulness. I hope that you will take time to witness our magnificent interconnections. That you will accept the beautiful gifts of life even when they aren’t pretty, that you will practice loving selflessly and strive to know your deepest nature.

I want to close with a story about my great grandfather. He was a man of little wealth who still managed to give every single day of his life. Each morning, he had a ritual of going on a walk — and as he walked, he diligently fed the ant hills along his path with small pinches of wheat flour. Now that is an act of micro generosity so small that it might seem utterly negligible, in the grand scheme of the universe. How does it matter? It matters in that it changed him inside. And my great grandfather’s goodness shaped the worldview of my grandparents who in turn influenced that of their children — my parents. Today those ants and the ant hills are gone, but my great grandpa’s spirit is very much embedded in all my actions and their future ripples. It is precisely these small, often invisible, acts of inner transformation that mold the stuff of our being, and bend the arc of our shared destiny.

On your walk, today and always, I wish you the eyes to see the anthills and the heart to feed them with joy.

May you be blessed. Change yourself — change the world.

This is a transcript of the Baccalaureate address to UPenn’s graduating class of 2012, delivered by Nipun Mehta. Nipun is the founder of ServiceSpace.org, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of gift-economy, technology and volunteerism. His popular TED talk Designing for Generosity provides an overview of their work and guiding principles.

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Letter from Rajeev Natarajan

year_on_note_signed

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Letter from Nikhilesh Tayal, cvbhejo

cvbhejogapyear

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Letter from Purvi Shah

June 2013

Dear Reader,

Today, a ‘gap year’ has been described as a modern day rite of passage and opportunities to not only take advantage of the natural break between college and or further education, but to unplug from the everyday classroom.

One of the significant aspects of my sixteen years of practice as a Psychologist in various schools locally and internationally has been of enabling, assisting young minds to discover their purpose, potential with a great emphasis on their emotional wellbeing.

In their academic journeys, students have shared that for them ‘gap year’ was about getting in touch with ‘what i can, what I want to do with myself, to ignite a desire for change, awake a passion for learning.  This ‘year on’ attitude exposes a young adult to multiple fields by providing a chance to reboot into a new style of learning, to embark on real work and world experiences and to gain a better sense of identity and self confidence.

In my opinion, a gap year is a very essential process globally, for students of all kinds of age groups, career paths and cultural backgrounds.

However, I do recommend the young adults to choose, to seek opportunities in the gap year that will help one grow as a person, experiences that will truly challenge one emotionally, physically, and intellectually.     A gap year can afford the time to travel, volunteer, or meet personal goals one may not have had time to achieve otherwise.

The whole point of the gap year(s) experience is to grow up-to strike out on One’s own, and be forced to survive by one’s own wits.

As my friend puts it, a gap year is not just about extending one’s adolescence; it allows the time for purposeful and informed decision making.  From the top Ivy League Universities to private college consultants, experts in higher education are saying that taking a gap year can do nothing but benefit high school graduates. I urge other School and College Counsellors in India and abroad to encourage, advocate the ‘year on’ philosophy in their organizations with students.

I can officially say that there are definite advantages to taking a gap year worth considering.

Wishing You Well!!!!

Ms. Purvi Shah

 

Clinical and Counselling Psychologist
Member of Australian Psychological Society, MAPS
Pioneer member of Counsellors Association of India, CAI

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In the news…

http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/youth/article3496444.ece

 

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Mumbai/Gap-year-initiatives-catch-students-interest/Article1-836225.aspx

 

http://www.udaipurtimes.com/take-a-year-break-from-studies-get-smart/#more-22220

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Letter from Nikhil Sanghvi

It is said that every day we make tremendous number of discoveries which all go unnoticed by us because we are so preoccupied with our daily routine. For instance, only whilst pondering regarding the beginning of my work life again did I realise/discover a very interesting facet of my life. That the decision to take time off in July, 2011 was the only one which was made by me without any outside pressures or conditioning! I deem it to be an exercise of pure volition.

This is not to say that every aspect of our lives is dependent or not dependent upon various social factors that surround us (I do not wish to make this into “Sociology 101” discourse!). What I simply figured was that as we grow up as kids in India in average urban middle and upper middle class families everything seems to be preordained for us by our families and the society. Study hard, good grades, 90% in Boards, good college, good grades again, good job, good salary and finally the process of settling down which includes getting married and having kids. Till the abovementioned processes have not been finished, we have been in bred with a guilty conscience regarding non-fulfilment of duties essential to our existence!

More or less I met with some of these abovementioned processes (can also be termed as expectations) albeit not always coming off as the perfect kid. I fondly remember the time when I got through National Law School, Bangalore amongst other law colleges and was suddenly deemed to be intelligent by various people who one day earlier would not have considered me to be so smart! Definitely it was redemption for a kid who belongs to a family of successful persons in the traditional sense of the word. I had messed up my 10th Boards and after interaction with my cousins who had begun this NGO called “Shikshantar” at that time, my need to prove myself in 12th Boards had in any case withered away. I had been enlightened regarding the tremendous faults in our great education system and any inclination to gain those studly 90% Board marks was nil (I also used this anecdote of screwing up in my Boards with great vehemence and pride later to tell others as to how less they mattered in the longer run once I was accepted in NLS). Little did I realise that time that entering into law school itself was not a free choice and expression of my interest but rather the desperate attempts of a kid who was unclear as to what life holds for him and merely joined an Institute, ironically, to prove himself to others.

After a life altering Law School experience, I decided to enter into litigation in Jaipur, Rajasthan- the great town of my birth! My sole infatuation with the law was due to its sheer ability to make a difference in the society. Being brought up within an atmosphere of idealism amongst people of such tremendous integrity had caused the same to become an inherent part of my psyche. Hence, despite all the cynical views which were poured over me, I decided that I should work in a smaller place over a big metro like Delhi and try to make a difference. Although what kind of difference I was looking to make, I was unsure of. It took a good one and a half years to get rid of that incredibly idealistic picture and allow disillusionment to complicate things in my life again. Yet again I enforced a choice which I believed would still be socially acceptable- which was to sign up for further studies in the Ivy League colleges in the US. What I wished to study or pursue further I was more or less uncertain about. Ah yes! I do remember that I wanted to have a comparative analysis of the judicial system in the two countries to understand how issues of delays in litigation can be dealt with better in India but whether I had read up sufficiently upon it or whether I was required to pursue a masters for such an analysis I was not sure of. I guess that reason came to my head just because I thought that well the only way to get out of the rut was to pursue masters.

While applying for the same, I became certain that this exercise in itself is also not that fruitful since my reasons for applying to me seemed frivolous. By the end of March, 2011, I was asked to decide regarding my future by various parties including my folks. I felt I needed more time. This uncertainty regarding my future plans somehow reminded me of the various activities I wished to pursue but had not been able to because of work and other factors. So I decided that before I join any active legal work, I should acquire certain new skills which I wished to at least pursue as hobbies throughout my life. Rock Climbing and Mountaineering were clear off-shoots of such an exploration and grew to be my passion.

When I do reflect upon the past nine months of life though I realise that my time away from the mainstream legal arena has in fact allowed me to gain a very different perspective regarding many things in life rather than a standardised perspective of a professional litigator. I tried my hand at not so mainstream activities (most people are yet to understand the difference between rock climbing and mountaineering!) and ended up interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. The reaction of most people from my field was of disbelief, bafflement and concealed contempt at my naivety in not realising the major advantage I was letting go of, or not exploiting, considering my family background. In fact I often faced subtle admonitions from many “well-wishers” about how its time I acquired some seriousness in life (effectively it implied I should get back to fulfilling mainstream expectations). In the beginning I made idiotic attempts at trying in vain to explain my predicament to people and my necessity for such a choice. However, soon wisdom dawned upon me and I would consider such remarks with quiet amusement grinning to my own self, trying to avoid my natural urge to argue, rationalise, debate upon the subject.

The surprising revelation was the sheer contentment and happiness I was experiencing in life. Many people who attempt to take such similar “breaks/year offs” tell me that they very soon get disgruntled and feel useless and unproductive and cannot wait to be back in the field. I however faced no such quandary. My daily schedule consisted of climbing et. el. till the afternoon, working out more to get in shape and then reading various books, playing with my dog, practising the guitar, learning to cook etc. I read a lot about nutrition, discovered a lot about my body’s limits. Life was amazing. There were many experiences which I cannot detail here which were quite incredible as they led to many other small discoveries on a daily basis.

I remember my interactions with my cousin Manish and his prodding me to in fact rediscover many aspects of life which I was missing out on. He would call it self-empowerment and base it upon the “Gandhian” way of life which was imbibed as per him in “Swaraj” and meant ensuring that we gain control of different aspects of our life rather than become the specialists that today’s modern life propagates. To know how to cook, do basic chores, basic medicine, using basic tools was essential for our very existence and led to a very satisfying experience. Such a way of life does not hold a very promising response from the mainstream society in terms of achievements. I had however, realised by now that the usual norms of success and satisfaction were not applicable to me! I couldn’t care much about gaining appreciation of peers considering my different outlook towards life and at the same time I dare not say that I was a rebel who was out of it all and needed no one’s concern. I merely wish to state that the futility of such false appreciation had dawned upon me and it had become increasingly obvious that it is most satisfying if you love what you do. The law was a tool I always considered to be of great importance to bring significant change in the society and may be it still is but not how I had perceived it to be.

I do remember that in the last few months when my deadline was coming closer, I had repeated, ominous reminders of the sword hanging on my head from many people. Considering my love for the lifestyle I had acquired, I also became very disturbed at my indecision regarding the more “practical choice” in life. Also after seeing lawyers to be yet another part of the system I felt cheated by the futility of it all. The inability to decide had led me to conclude the pointlessness of existence per se (I am glad I did not read more existential philosophy during this period!). I would question my every choice as being futile and useless and unsatisfactory. I would curse the lack of options when I was a kid- the lack of facilities, of infrastructure, of coaching which forced me into giving up my innate proclivity towards sports and physical exercise.

Many people told me to leave litigation as well and consider other options but the one which were recommended to me barely seemed like options. More importantly I also realised that I, all said and done, was cowardly and afraid. The rebel in me had limits. I was the “Steppenwolf” (suicidal but would never take the plunge!). I came to agree with the hard fact that I had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and was unwilling to completely let go of it and my current lifestyle could not be sustained for long. Economic viability of any activity is ultimately a hard hitting factor which one has to consider – especially one who is not a complete rebel! I guess in many ways when one jokes about taking off into the hills, it is merely a half-wish the entire consequence of which no one wishes to bear. I must admit I never entirely gave a very serious thought to anything except the more pragmatic option of getting back to litigation which I did not completely abhor.

Today in March 2012, I have finally made the call of undertaking litigation under a lawyer in Delhi High Court after much consultation and much indecision (I am still unsure whether it’s a voluntary decision or a forced one due to the deadline which I had given everyone in my family to curb their anxieties and fears regarding my future!) It’s a lesson in life for us to understand that with the growth of options and choices today also arises the unsettling task of making those choices! Life for previous generations in many ways was simpler this way since there path was fixed for them by their forefathers.

Now that I am back into it, cynicism is an instinctive reaction, but I have learnt the importance of patience as well. In fact, when I look forward to it- many of my preconceived notions regarding how I shall proceed in the profession stand dispelled today. I am free of many prejudices I held due to this exposure I received in my life. The most refreshing bit is that I do not consider it a burden anymore. Plans which had been chalked out in my head for years to come have crumbled to make way for developing life on a more short term basis. I still think that my new endeavour is merely another temporary experience which will help me realise further what it is that I wish to pursue or rather experience in life. The last nine months though were truly remarkable in terms of the impact they have had – as Manish rightly told me- “do not call it a year-off- that would deem it unproductive! Call it a ‘year-on’!”

While moving ahead I now keep this philosophy in my head- “The mystery of life is not a problem to solve, but a reality to experience!”

(pardon the errors since it is just something off the rack..)

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Letter from Gauri Bhure, Mahindra World College

Letter from Gauri Bhure and Nandita Dinesh, Mahindra World College, Pune.

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Letter from Kiran Bir Sethi, The Riverside School

Letter from Kiran Bir Sethi
Letter from Kiran Bir Sethi - 2

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