I got my higher secondary examination result. I scored 92%. Matriculation board it was.
My cut-off was very bad. Everyone else was giving an advance payment to some of their preferred private colleges and securing a seat already. I didn’t want to waste my parents’ money like that. I was either gonna get a seat in merit or I was gonna settle for whatever I got.
I considered doing an arts course. “You are going to pursue engineering. If you choose not to, I will get you four buffalos. You take care of those buffalos”, my mom said, when I told her my decision. They wanted to get me into an engineering course. It was (still is) the fad among the parents of the Indian families.
I placed second in my high school board exam. I was the underdog that no one ever saw coming. From 11th standard, everything went downhill. I fell in love with my best friend. It was one sided. We had a fall out because of my naivety. She didn’t care. She was in another school. I drowned in my sorrow and wallowed in self-pity.
Throughout 12th standard, I failed in atleast one subject in all the exams. Except the board. I scored 92% in the board exam. Teachers weren’t supportive except for two teachers that believed in me.
When I secured second in school in my 10th standard, life just got started brightening up. I got ahead of everyone else but one, in my entire school, and most of the students in my entire district.
When my 12th board results came, I knew I didn’t have many options. I wanted to settle for the best. I chose a 5-year sandwich course in Software Engineering just to avoid being the caretaker of buffalos.
Everyone that I surpassed in my score, in my 10th board, had gotten ahead of me in the 12th standard results. Every single one of them got a seat in a great college. Some got into CEG, some got into MMC, some got into CMC and some others got into CIT, PSG, SSN, MIT, etc.
For the moment, at that point in time, my life sucked. I sucked. So badly. I didn’t have many options. I didn’t know what I was gonna do with my life. Everyone had gotten ahead of me. My life seemed worthless. I drowned myself in Fropper, Ibibo, Yahoo messenger chat, talking to random people. I drowned myself watching Hollywood movies one after the other. I didn’t want to face the reality.
I got a seat in VIT. For a while, life seemed better. I chose the college because there was no one from my school who got admission there. There was no one to remind me of my past.The culture was liberal. I got influenced. Got into wrong friendship with the wrong people. Gave myself away for people to use. Spent all my time chasing people and helping people. Spent the rest of my time dreaming of dreams. Eventually, people that I trusted didn’t live up to it. Heartbroken all over again. The patterns continued. For the first three years of my college life, I spent all my time voluntarily helping people get their head out of their arses while I had my head stuck in my own arse. I was dumb. All the time I invested on people, I could have done something better.
I slowly realized what a menial existence mine was. It all dawned on me one day. I considered 5 people my very good friends. I was suicidal. I messaged them all individually telling them that I wanted to talk and that it would be great if they could spare some time to talk. Not one person replied. I called them. Not one person picked up. They were all busy with their lives. They didn’t even care to check up on me the next day.
I had that pattern revisiting me all over again. I didn’t go through with my feelings. I knew it was stupid. At least I wasn’t that dumb. Everyone was busy with their lives. Everyone had great lives, posting photos in Facebook of how awesome their lives were. Everyone else was achieving something or the other. They were all in some student chapters, doing something, interacting with some people and making acquaintances. Enjoying life they were. I locked myself up in my hostel room and I started drowning myself in movies and blogs once again.
Two months down the road, I lost everything. I didn’t have anything to show for my existence of 3 years in college. I hadn’t achieved anything. The few people I trusted and wanted to spend time with had their own busy lives. They started ignoring me.
For once and for all, I decided to stop chasing people. I decided to stop helping everyone else. I decided that it was time to help myself. I shut everyone out. I didn’t go to classes. I taught myself. I had the privilege of not needing attendance. I started preparing for my placements one year down the road, at that point of time.
There were two people that helped pull me through. I managed to just stay up on the surface enough to breathe and live again for a purpose. I had to get a job in a very good company, a job which would allow me to pursue other dreams of mine.
I started preparing one year beforehand. I knew I didn’t have special talents. I knew I was an ordinary guy. I knew I was not a special cupcake. So I had to work hard to get placed in a good company. I studied every day. I studied using my smartphone while going to class, coming back from the class and while walking anywhere. I used all the time I had, in dreaming, visualizing and working hard. I knew that was the only way that I could accomplish what I wanted to. It was still a long shot. I had to be one among the 20 people out of 2500 who’d get an offer in a super dream company. It was a long long shot (programmers know what I mean).
The first company I appeared for was eBay Inc. I got through all the rounds. I got a job offer in that company. Once I got the offer, I thought it was my dire duty to help everyone else and once again I went around helping people, voluntarily. Nothing in return, no one cared. People I helped got placed, that was enough, I was happy. By December 2014, I had gotten ahead of everyone else in college, everyone that once seemed to be getting ahead of me.
By January, I joined PayPal as an intern. By then I had come to know of what had happened to my schoolmates. Almost all of the toppers didn’t make much of themselves. One girl went for an MS. Three girls got into Infosys, CTS kinda companies. Only one of the toppers got into MS IDC.
I realized that I had gotten ahead of everyone that got ahead of me before college. I felt happy. Momentarily.
I wanted to get further ahead. I had that thirst in me. A friend of mine working in Google said he’d refer me and that I should let him know once I am prepared. I started preparing for the Google interview. One month down the road I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had read so much in the two years prior to that. My gut feeling told me to start a blog and start writing. I designed, customized and implemented the HERCULES PHAETON (HERCULES PHAETON – The Herculean Way Of Life) site, registered the domain and started the blog.
I joined Paypal as an intern by January 2015. There were 12 other interns with me at the Chennai development centre. I was the odd one out. I am unique that way. Normal people aren’t that interested in me. I am anything but normal. I wanted to feel like I belonged there with those other interns. I didn’t. I tried getting along. I couldn’t. I tried blending in. I failed miserably. I wasn’t myself. I was slowly compromising on who I was just so people would like me. I wanted to take part in their world, just to be friends and get to know them. I knew I had to compromise the essence of who I was. I almost did. No one cared. At one point, it hit me. It hit me hard.
I had been reading books, working out, working on Highterate (Highterate – Showing You What’s Right With The World!), writing stuff on HERCULES PHAETON, taking care of the internship project, learning graphic design and few other things. Everyone else came to work, did their internship project, left work, went home, watched tv shows, played video games, slept, repeated the same thing again. That was their lifestyle. It was good. They thought that I was a boring workaholic. My opinion? I respected their lifestyle. Nothing less. Nothing more. I am just different. I am odd. I have always been.
One of those toppers from school, he’s preparing for UPSC. I am sure he’ll become an IAS officer. He’s got that in him. One or two years down the road, he’ll have gotten ahead of everyone who started with him at school.
Now, my internship is done and dusted. Some of the other interns got the full-time offers. Some didn’t. Everyone has moved on with their lives. I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be different from the rest of them. After learning about everyone else’s lives, I decided to keep going in the path that I started on. It is the only path that makes me stay true to myself.
To me, normal isn’t something to strive to be. Normal is something to run away from. I started running.
Now, I seem to be getting ahead of everyone else. Momentarily.
I am happy. Momentarily.