First day into design school, I’d marched in with a madness of my own, that bred from the “noise” every success story made – the names of prestigious schools that I couldn’t get into and of companies that seem to run the world, numbers of test scores from yesterday and of salaries far in the future – cancelling out my own voice. I felt compelled to have an Instagram worthy art style, a professional looking portfolio, and the perfect skills for LinkedIn, right away! A journey meant to be carved with spontaneity and creativity had been hashed down to a mere checklist.
But while I look back at this year, reminiscing the little wins and realizations from failures, what resonates the most with me is, nothing per se, tangible. Rather it is a question that one of my facilitators asked me, “How are you feeling right now?” as I dismally let go of an idea far too complex, that I’d latched onto for long. Owing to the confusion in the moment I remained silent, but it had made its way, right through this stoic façade of mine beyond which everything immaterial, even my own emotions, stood meaningless. And I was shrouded by guilt when I realized I should’ve asked this question to myself long back. Every day, at every stage of this journey.
Just as I had done when I started, as a cub, at AURA – sharing “thoughts, feelings and emotions” and “what do you take back today?” ritualistically, with my peers and listening to them with the same tenacity, I learnt to hold onto what I feel. I sat by the ledge of our big door, using every sketch pen, doodling and mapping, everything I ever wanted to say, as I let go of worrying if all that I thought was “good enough”. And as the fifteen of us skillfully convinced a group of grown-ups to save water, crafted toys out of scraps using our jugaad skills, or set up an act at a public park to engage people to talk about littering habits… I’d found my voice. A voice that celebrated the tenderness of emotions, of the self and others, along with the indomitable spirit to bring about change and take action.
Today, as I extend the same questions and practices, as an aspirer in the field – it clarifies the materialistic “noise” with which I marched in, and makes way for some of the most beautiful thoughts (yes, I shamelessly ask why is the sky blue for the hundredth time). And now, as the world too slows down, I tell myself – it is time, I take two steps back in the way I drive myself towards a goal, and a step forward in listening to my own voice, as it grows loud, tuning itself, into the harmonies of the world.