In the beginning of the movie Batman Begins, when Bruce Wayne finally scales the mountain and reaches Ra's al Ghul, he is huffing and panting.
Ra’s: Are you ready to begin?
Bruce: I… I can barely stand.
And then he gets kicked to the ground. A couple of more blows later, Bruce finally starts to defend himself, puts up a fight, and eventually faints.
This is the welcome a b-school gives to you, once you scale the mountain called CAT.
I wasn’t oblivious to this. I have heard friends talk about it. Most of you must’ve heard this too. But it’s not the same thing. It’s like the Matrix; you can’t be told what it is, you have to see it for yourself.
The first couple of weeks aren’t so bad though, when the only thing turning up the heat on you is the Sun. You walk around in campus, and survey the crowds for what IT guys would call leads and opportunities. There is an aroma of new found freedom in the air, and a proclivity towards being irresponsible.
And then out of nowhere, you are expected to be athletes. A multitude of races are laid in front of you, and your mind starts to spin.
Clubs. Committees. Presentations. Exams. Competitions. CV. Placements. Placements. Placements.
On the very first day, I remember a line from the induction ceremony: “Most of you here; your lives have been graced with success till now. But beware; a lot of you will experience failure here in some way or the other.”
His words started making sense soon enough.
The feeling of complete worthlessness is a phase through which almost every MBA student has to pass. Regardless of what you have achieved before b-school, or how inhumanly talented you are, you will break. There is no escaping it. Winning all the races is out of question.
Yet the fact that some seemingly do better than others is undeniable. Some have that extra spurt of energy for whatever they do. In fact, experienced folks start feeling like a hundred years old, when kids fresh out of grad school run around and speak with over-exuberance. “Who’s that jumpy kid? I hate that bastard.”
Needless to say, extroverts run riot. Poor introverts, especially those who lack self-esteem, are left to question if they even deserve being here. I belong to the latter, and ended up with zero club/committee selections. A couple of selection tasks required me to online propaganda, or write boring articles with fancy words so that it is apt for a newspaper. I blatantly refused. In fact, most tasks will make you ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this? Is this really my thing?” Most of the people do it anyway. While some merely believe they can do it, others would see the incentive – CV points.
The importance of CV points is understandable, when you realize that your batch is full of people like you. It’s not class 9th anymore, where you were the only one who could speak amazingly fluent English, or write poetry, play football, or play guitar, or have 90+ percent marks in 10th and 12th standard. Or even have all of the above. (Actually, not having 90+ percent marks is a crime you’ll pay dearly for throughout this life and the next seven or eight lives.)
I digress. Having gone through the turmoil of this first term, with an internship secured for next summer, I have realized one thing. One may call it a cliché, but that’s why they’re called clichés. They’re lessons we need to learn again and again.
What we have on our resumes doesn’t differentiate us. It’s our attitude that does.
MBA teaches us this critical lesson. Everyone’s paths will be crossed by falls and failure, regardless of your resume. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve broken down like a child myself. But I did not lose faith, thanks to the unbelievable support of my parents. When it mattered, especially during the summer placements, I had it together. It’s what Yoda from Star Wars would call the Force. The invisible shield that acts as a cocoon against all fear, doubt and disbelief; and keeps moving forward.
A word ought to be said about the people. We humans have always shown great unity in adversity, and it is no different for Term 1. Every 1st year would agree that the seniors made a phenomenal effort to ease our burden, and we’re all encouraged to follow suit next year for our successors.
Life in MBA till now has been like an aircraft taking off, without its passengers wearing seatbelts. Our insides have been properly shaken and stirred, and the plane is now stabilizing into an auto-pilot mode. Hereon, we can either take control and choose our destiny, or sit back and stick with the auto-pilot.
Hereon, the world is at our feet.