Unsure Of Your Career Path? Read This – Make The Most Of A Wrong Decision

We are defined by the choices that we make. Most of the times, these choices are made under a lot of uncertainty and hence there is no easy way of determining their outcome. Moreover, we are left in a catch-22 situation when we realise that the decision we made, wasn’t the best and all we are left with is to rue the situation and keep contemplating about the ‘what if’ scenario. However, every dark cloud has a silver lining. And once we start looking beyond our disappointments, we might just be able to figure out how to make the most of such ‘bad decisions’ that we make. For me, ‘Engineering’ was one such bad decision and following is the story of how I created the silver lining amidst my dark clouds.

I had spent 3 years in Kota preparing for IIT-JEE, the joint entrance exam to the Indian Institute of Technology. While the early signs were there, I was too timid to accept the reality and admit that I wasn’t really cut-out to be a student of science. I continued to brave the storm and endured not so successful couple of years in Kota, academically speaking. I was forced into making the difficult choice of dropping a year and giving it another go as getting admission through the ‘management quota’ was simply not an option. The following year, the results improved significantly which was a manifestation of a change in my work ethic and attitude. While I didn’t crack the IIT-JEE, I did manage to get a decent rank in COMED-K and gain admission in Computer Science stream at one of the premier engineering colleges in Bangalore.

Given the nightmare that I had endured at Kota, I was determined to make sure that the next four years of my life would be a lot different and fruitful academically. But again, as my stars would have it, I realised pretty early into my engineering that despite the best effort by my teachers, the binary language of 0s and 1s failed to evoke any kind of interest in me.

My college was not a place that welcomed people like me. It is heaven for ones who genuinely want to better the existing technological scene, but for others, it is a living nightmare. Hence what I developed over the course of 4 years of my course was a love-hate relationship. All the hate was reserved for anything and everything within the classroom and the department, while all the love was showered on everything that was outside the confines of the department. And despite the institute’s best efforts to prevent me from having any kind of fun and personality development, I was determined to chart my own course.

Being active at organising events has been my forte since a very young age; hence it wasn’t surprising that I found myself at the centre of most of the events that happened in college. I even went to the extent of founding a social start-up of my own by the name of ‘The iCare Group’, which, if I am to look back at my engineering days, will surely find a mention among my top accomplishments, if not the top. The group itself as such had absolutely no correlation to my curriculum. Yet if you were to ask me where did majority of my learning happen during my engineering days, without batting an eyelid I will reply – while managing the activities of The iCare Group.

At my college, the attendance policy was very strict making bunking and proxy a non-starter. Moreover, attendance carried marks, 5 to be exact, which mattered a lot especially for ‘passionately dispassionate engineers’ like myself, who need to collect every last straw of marks that they can to make sure that they score at least 40% marks in their internals so that they are eligible to write the external exams. At the same time, spending 6 hours on the trot everyday trying to fake interest in engineering theories that you couldn’t care any less for is a difficult job. To make sure I spent those 6 hours constructively, I decided to do what engineering students become masters at eventually – sleep through the lectures. It worked well for me for the initial two weeks, but after that, even sleep deserted me and I was left to face the evils of engineering on my own, without the aid of my trusted lieutenant – sleep.

The resources were limited. There is only so much you can do sitting on a bench, blankly staring at the blackboard, with no sign of sleep. It was also the age when Laptops in classrooms weren’t in fashion. But then, something happened. A part of me exploded onto the scene; that part, which I never knew existed, that part of me which people call the ‘writer.’

Having gone through the ordeal myself, I realised why so many engineers had turned authors while they were still in college. For people who aren’t too interested in it, engineering does provide a lot of spare time to pursue other interest. Hence, we see a lot of students charting out their own bands, some becoming writers and some starting off with their own companies. I was glad to be on the boat of the rebels and was convinced that 10 years down the line, when I would look back at my engineering days, not all of it would appear bleak.

I took to writing like I hadn’t taken to anything else. There were times I wrote continuously for 6 hours during the lectures, so lost in the world I had created that I would fail to keep track of anything around me. While I had 6 different notebooks in the first semester for 6 different subjects, the remaining 7 semesters saw me sail through on the might of a single notebook kept for classwork (even that was only half-filled by the time I finished with engineering). It was due to my disinterest in engineering that I discovered my interest in writing, and I will forever be indebted to engineering for that. By the time I finished my engineering, I had a collection of poems, articles as well as a book – ‘Ordered Cheese Delivered Chalk – My Kota Safari’ to show for my writing archives.

I entered engineering with the intention of coming out of it as a ‘technically evolved’ person. Not too sure about the ‘technical’ bit of it, but I can certainly say that looking back at the course, I did manage to come out of it as a more evolved person.

P.S. While ‘Engineering’ was my nemesis, it might be ‘Management’ for some, ‘CA’ for others, ‘9 to 5 job’ for some, so on and so forth. All of us have our own nemesis but the take away is that we can always control the outcome of all our decisions, even when everything seems down and out.

Shobhit Agarwal

Archetypal average guy - decent in everything; exceptional in nothing!!