The Inflection points in my learning journey

The cover picture is the room designated for the executive board of AIESEC in Chennai. To me, this is the room where I got hit with a few tight slaps, which numbed me down to tiny pieces. And now, when I look back at it, this was a room that transformed a few core aspects of who I am and made me believe in what I am capable of as an individual, the hard way, though because I don’t think there’s an easy one.

Today, I would like to share how it all happened, and I hope everyone who is reading this can take back something valuable from my journey. I was introduced to AIESEC by one of my classmates in college when I approached him to get some advice on how can I make better use of time after usual college hours. I decided to go ahead with the decision to join a youth-run organization, and I was all set to go in for my first ever interview in the month of February 2018.

It was my first touchpoint to a world of professionalism, and I was required to bring in a resume for my interview. But, unfortunately, I had no idea how to make one. So after I familiarised myself with making a resume, I made one with the title being my name followed by my educational background and a couple of skills that filled up a quarter of an A4 sheet with no proper alignment. So with this preparation, I go in for my interview. The first question posed to me, which I vividly remember, is ‘How much time did you spend on making this resume?’

Not to go into further detail, as you might have guessed by now, I got rejected. That was the day I realized how little I knew about anything and how ignorant I was to educate myself and learn about something. That was the inflection point, a point where the concavity of the curve changes either upwards or downwards. In other words, a turning point.

But that wasn’t enough as I stepped out dejected with myself for what I have done but with no intent to take action and start learning and educating myself apart from looking up answers to the questions asked in the interview. So I apply another time after six months with a mere intent only to get through the two interview rounds, and I flunk the second one this time. And this time around, for worse, I shift the blame to make myself feel better and not think about ‘What I can do better?’.

Those two interviews were the inflection points in my journey, which I was ignorant of, and the curve kept going down the spiral. Finally, the next recruitment cycle, I did not care to give it a shot anymore. And I did regret that decision for a month, but why? Only because a few of my other classmates got on but me. Luckily one day post one month after the recruitment cycle ended, I get a call from the organization as there is an opening in a department. I finally say yes and go in for the interview, and I get selected. I was delighted when I got the news.

That was another inflection point and the one where the tables turned. After I got selected, I sat down and thought about what I could do to change myself? I was jealous of seeing a difference in the people visiting the office, especially the people in the room designated to the executive board. They were professional in their approach with budding curiosity to learn and explore.

I somehow managed to look beyond jealousy and practiced habits that would enable me to learn and be curious about anything and explore. This habit is what I’ll always be grateful for to the organization and its people forever. I was a part of the organization for two years, and I underwent many more inflection points in my tenure. I sure did map out a weird heart wave to look at, but one that indeed has made me a learner and a curious one at that.

When I was willing to accept my mistakes, I looked at what happened with an open mind, acted on it, and did not react impulsively. As a result, I gathered a fresh perspective which provided me a path to work on. One that was indeed not easy but rewarding. The process of learning, which began then, will always be in progress. To club it all into one bit-sized message, I would like to mention this dialogue by Professor John Keating from the movie Dead Poets Society.

“Just when you think you know something, you have to look at it another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.”

My entrance into the professional world wasn’t easy to absorb for me, and it made me feel distraught. And, I was very self-critical already, so all of it did add fuel to the flame. But over time, I did learn how to manage and acknowledged that things could change but only if one is willing to take the road not taken. So, figuratively, the graph is in our hands, and we choose to design the trends and patterns.

I regularly read, sometimes I write. The aim is to give language and get rid of a guide book if there’s one. Contemplating about why it is the way it is?