It is said that college life is a phase where one acquires a more independent lifestyle which is certainly different from that students have in school. But for me, in addition to the freedom, college life gave me my feminism, my personality, and the launching pad for my journey ahead. I left my college a year ago, but its essence and learnings are still embedded in what I am today.
My college life pulled me out of these restraints and put me into a world where there is the freedom to choose, think or say anything I want. I was more of me and less of what society wanted me to be.
I joined Indraprastha College for Women in 2016 as an English Honors student. Why I mention this is because studying English literature at a women’s college greatly influenced my personality and opinions. The liberating ideas of English literature, the characteristic greeneries and the meditative quietness of my college and its history of feminism together formed a beautiful mess that redefined my identity.
Change of city, mindset, and people
College life for me was not just a change of educational institution. It involved a bigger change of moving from Bihar to Delhi with immense nervousness and feeble hopes. However, when I found a place to live and a good college, I took my first step towards initiating a beautiful change. I became independent, responsible, decisive and ready to adjust in any situation. These are the qualities that I owe to my initial days as a college-going girl.
Since I switched cities, I found it really difficult to adjust to people and their thoughts initally. Hailing from a family where engineering, medical and IAS are the only parameters to measure success and daughters marrying into a good family is the symbol of status, I found people at my college liberated. My college life pulled me out of these constraints and put me into a world where there is the freedom to choose, think or say anything I want. I was more of me and less of what society wanted me to be. The open environment, with no restrictive rules, the freedom to go anywhere, the diversity among students and plethoric ideas, gaining knowledge from professors and critical dialogues on social issues and hush-hush topics through my course constituted an alternate but more rational reality for me.
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My Feminism and the fervour to do something in life
Coming from a background that valued society and status over individuality, where sexism was a norm, college life and my course taught me to value myself above everything. Often I felt conflicted between the reality of my college life and my family as if I was living in two different worlds simultaneously. There was always this fear that my college life was just a dream, a break from the world where eventually I will have to go back. But I overcame that fear when I came across people in my college who were facing or had won over the same or worse conflicts. When I interacted with them, their struggles, insight and experience helped me look beyond my conflict and build a perspective and an ambition in life.
My college life also played a vital role in busting many stereotypes that I unconsciously believed in. It taught me that it is not wrong to indulge in anything pleasurable: party, trips, friendships, dating or, particularly in my case, to bunk classes for some quality dialogues over tea.
I shared space with empowered women and acquired that zest to do something in life. It was the encouragement of my professors and my friends that pushed me to embrace my passion for writing defeating my hesitations. Meanwhile, I also discovered the feminist in me, shaped by freedom, sisterhood and women’s literature, and made it the bulwark against all the regressive beliefs that pulled me back.
My college life also played a vital role in busting many stereotypes that I unconsciously believed in. It taught me that it is not wrong to indulge in anything pleasurable: party, trips, friendships, dating or, particularly in my case, to bunk classes for some quality dialogues over tea. It also made me opportunistic and creative. I skipped lectures to attend some important seminars or events without guilt or regret. Yet, I was able to juggle multiple things together and still be on time.
Comfortable in how I look
Another very crucial reason why I credit my college life for my new personality is that it taught me to be comfortable in how I dress. The fancy colleges shown in Karan Johar films gave me a complex because they were all about who looks the best. But when I actually went to college, I was comfortable enough to wear pyjamas if I was sick and not wear dresses in which I am not comfortable. There was no one to mark or judge me for how I dressed up or whether I repeated my clothes in a week or not.
The time that I spent in my college, the minutes of carefree conversations that turned into hours, the insightful lectures and the words of knowledge and experience that are now ingrained in my mind forever is what I embody and owe to my college life. If my college was not so liberating, I would still be a bird being fed well, but in a cage.
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.