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Edited by: Mohan Rajagopal

On the 13th of January 2021, I got an acceptance letter from my dream university; Ashoka was where I wanted to be since the 9th grade. However, the feelings that came after reading it were very different from what I expected. We started with the phase of denial, a wave of excitement followed by a few tears, and finally, acceptance, but there was also this growing bubble of fear which became so large that it eventually consumed all the other emotions. It wasn’t the standard fear of a new city or a new chapter in my life. Neither was it related to not being enough or the academic pressures I would have to face the next few years. It was a fear of something I had been terrified of for a very, very long time —  a change in myself.

You see, unlike most people I know, I had a pretty decent High School experience. I did make mistakes the first two years —  I became someone I did not recognize and lost integral parts of myself. I strayed away from things that mattered and people who cared, and school became a burden rather than my second home. But in the summer before 11th grade, I changed. It’s so easy to say that now, but I did. I worked on myself and promised to never go back to the person I was the past year. I set a strong foundation for the next two years and it worked pretty well —  from being elected School Captain and studying the subjects I was interested in, to being in a healthy relationship and having a solid circle of friends, I finally became a version of myself I genuinely loved after a very long time. So of course, the question of what college-Arohi would be like lingered on for a few weeks, especially after the realization that I would be leaving all of this behind very soon. 

Every college drama I have seen focuses so much on the notion of an entire personality change right from the first day that “new start, new me” was the only thing the people around me were talking about. I didn’t want a “new me”, so instead, I made a list of the parts of myself I would keep and the ones I would try and get rid of. Overthinking and second-guessing, for example, are part of the not-carry-forward list. Realizing I’m right in the middle of what I used to look forward to and taking things as they come are some things I am not willing to part with. 

Slowly, I began to understand the difference between growth and change. Daisies cannot become roses irrespective of how much water or sunlight they get. A lot of people are scared to revisit their past selves and past mistakes: do it anyway. This version of me is here right now because of that. Only after a long and difficult process of sprouting does the seed yield the flower.

I was happy with the answers I had but I knew I couldn’t be swimming in my pool of denial for a very long time. Keeping growth aside, no change in four years also seems like a bit of a stretch, no? After all, I’m going to be planted in a completely different garden, very different from what I am in right now. That was the second epiphany — I can choose the change, and even if I can’t, it could not be irrevocable. A daisy would still be a daisy no matter where it has been planted, provided that care and nourishment are ensured. I accepted the fact that things around me would not be the same, no matter how much I wanted them to be frozen in time. I could either long to go back or just keep evolving with them. 

It’s been a month since college started and I already feel that the things I understood and learned, both about myself and the world around me, have expanded. I still haven’t completely found myself and I’m looking forward to discovering that, one piece at a time. 

Till then, this is one last look back at the different versions of myself over the years, and a reminder to everyone reading this of how far we’ve come and how far we are going to go.

Arohi Sachar

Ashoka '24

A walking talking day dreamer who runs on caffeine and likes to narrate stories like they are her own, Arohi is UG24 prospective Psychology major who loves dogs and cute stationery
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