The Road Less Travelled – My Journey To IIM Bangalore
“So why did you come back?”
Over the past month and a half at IIM Bangalore, this has been the third or fourth question I’ve been asked; right after my name and engineering college. Admittedly, some do check whether I’m an engineer, first. On the face of it, I’m a typical engineering student – I took the JEE, graduated in mechanical engineering, am a Fresher and am doing my MBA. The difference, which inspires the original question, is that, for the past four years, I’ve been studying in New York City.
My story has been one spread across twenty-one years, and is one that spans across the globe. I’ve lived in six cities, visited over seventeen countries, and studied in over ten schools in that timeframe. The numbers aside, I’ve been privileged to experience many walks of life. These experiences have shaped another integral part of me – my perspective. It is the same perspective that I hope to share with you; nothing more than a small chapter in this story. The chapter of the path that brought me back to India, to IIMB.
Let us rewind to 2014 for just a moment. I had messed up my JEE, but that was fine, because I was going to New York City! The Big Apple, a city of dreams and opportunities, and I was going to be living there for the next four years! Don’t get me wrong, I was depressed for days after my JEE, especially after putting in four years, sacrificing sleep and social life, in order to make it in. But I tried looking at it differently. Some call it the sunk cost fallacy, I call it avoiding FOMO. Small difference, in my opinion, and literature has influenced that opinion heavily.
The first poem I had ever read was one by Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Naturally, when the ISC syllabus told me to study another work by Frost, I took it to heart. The Road Not Taken is truly inspiring; and on a tangent, I must recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. It speaks of treading the road less travelled, and not regretting the decision. And when everyone told me that I was completely out of my mind to go abroad with the intention of coming back after 4 years, I knew deep down that my gut was not leading me astray. I knew that I had a lot to learn, and while I wanted to make a world of difference in India, I had a long path before me. I still do, and the next bridge to cross is IIMB.
I don’t believe that my viewpoint is unique to my experiences, rather than my experiences hastened my understanding of said viewpoint. Trusting my gut became very important in the four years I spent in New York. Primarily because knowing when something doesn’t agree with your stomach is crucial to finding excuses to skip class, but secondarily because staying positive was essential just to survive in an unfamiliar atmosphere. Being able to trust yourself, your own instincts above all – that’s what kept me going for four years. More importantly, I had a gut feeling that I would make a bigger difference in India with the perspective that I would gain in the States. I truly believed that New York was a phase, a stepping stone and that it would make me stronger, no matter what the people in my life felt I would end up doing.
I think that everyone finds a point when other people’s expectations are far outweighed by their own interests and dreams. Coming to that realisation is wonderfully freeing, and lends you perspective. More importantly, it means that you’ve conquered the greatest fear of all: “What will other people say?” And that, my dear friends, is the point when I submit that you’re truly ready to make your own niche in life. It may sound like something you’ve been told incessantly, but I hope that hearing the story from a peer sheds a new light on an old topic.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep”
— Frost, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening