Coming of age

20 years ago I walked into my college with the arrogance of a teenager who knows a lot of things, with the thinking that know-how of knowledge and intelligence is enough to win anything thrown at me. Looking back I realise that I had barely memories of about 10-12 years but had the attitude of know it all.

College life is called head fake, it is not much about the course you have taken to learn, instead it prepares you for the unstructured life ahead. Randy Pausch talks about this in his last lecture which I realised that my entire college life was a head fake preparing me to be ready for the world with collaboration and social skills. Life as an individual is not enough, you have to learn to live together. Here are somethings that I learnt during college and later years which helped in the longer run.

Friendships – I thought friendships last a lifetime, but it is very situational. Barring a handful, most of them will not care to keep in touch. It is fruitless going out of the way to help people, the bad memories for people often carry a huge weightage compared to the good things that happened. We just should not be a jerk, good friendships will just happen over time.

Politics – Not taking sides is a best way to stay neutral and not get involved in politics; but the moment you take a stand on what is right, you are already neck deep into politics. Politics is every where as long as humans are involved, just pick your battles wisely else everyday goes into fighting pointless things.

Learning never stops – There is so much to learn, the more you learn the more you become aware that you have learnt less than what is out there. My magnitude of learning increased multifold only after I started doing internships, knowing how to write calculator program was just enough to give you that 80% in classroom. Solving real world problems involved intensive learning and unlearning, often there was only one shot at solving the problems thrown at you so you have to be ready to face new problems not structured predictable textbook problems.

Managing money – Managing small sums of money that comes as pocket money prepares you well ahead for the monthly salaried life. Planning for a month seems to be hard at first, you start learning only after you spend the entire pocket money within 10 days and then have to borrow from friends, lose some friendships over money before learning to save and spread spending over time.

College is the last stage of a structured life for most of us, the unstructured life just flies by and we will be sitting on a couch on a holiday and wonder how the last 20 years flew by.

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