Tuesday, October 09, 2012


To summarize a conversation I had with a professor last week, and have been having with friends over the past couple of months, is this point: growing up is basically accepting the fact that you don't have a clue what life is about, and being okay with that.

I spent the summer hanging out with a lot of undergrad college kids thanks to my internship, all of whom were convinced they have life figured out. They knew exactly what they wanted to do or be in life, had very firm likes and dislikes, and seemed so certain about everything. Was I that sure of anything at 18? Or even 21, which is the age most of these kids were? Perhaps.

I remember doing a workshop on counseling skills a few months after I started college. On the first day, the workshop moderator made us all line on one side of the room, and told us he was going to read out certain statements and we would have to go stand on one side of the room or stay where we were, depending on whether we agreed or disagreed with those statements, or go to the center of the room if we weren't sure. The statements he read out dealt with topics like abortion, infidelity, divorce... you get the drift. With each statement, once three groups would be formed, the agreeing and disagreeing groups presented their arguments and tried to convince people from the other groups to come over to their side. I was one of the youngest participants in the workshop, so of course I knew it all. I remember being the only person who refused to budge from my taken position on at least two of those statements. On one of them, I think it was everyone else on the other side, me on my side. And I was so convinced I was right.

Today, nine years later? I know I was wrong about at least one of those statements. The other, I'm still on the same side, but less certain about. I'm a bigger believer in the power of the context, rather than having one opinion to fit all situations.

Coming back to business school a month ago, I knew I was going to go through the recruiting process again, be equally stressed about it, and have all the drama carry on. But it was different this time. There are no SYs to provide guidance, look over my resume, to listen to me vent about my panic. I'm the SY this time round, and there are all these FYs coming to me with questions, asking for advice, showing me their resume, and as one actually put it the other day, "I need to come to you and vent."

The one SY I had vented to the most last year came to campus a couple of weeks back and I asked him if he had been as clueless as I am right now when I would ask him stuff last year. He asked me what I thought. Our conclusion was that the trick is to pretend like you have all the answers.

So I have interviews starting tomorrow, a lingering cough which won't go away, and mild levels of panic. But I think I've managed to come to the point where I can fake enough confidence to make a very close friend tell me this afternoon that I look happy.

Because I don't think it ever goes away - this feeling of having no clue what you're doing, that everyone else is miles ahead and way smarter, the wondering what life holds for you next.

But I feel a lot more grown up since I had the realization that it's okay to have that cluelessness.