If You Love, Let Go.

If You Love, Let Go.

9 mins

I was in love,so much so that , I used to be engrossed in dreams even while wide awake. Never ever had I faced that kind of fluttering of butterflies in my stomach before. I was sleeping less in the nights. And yet, I was filled with an unearthly enthusiasm throughout the day. I was dreamy, not sleepy. Just the very thought of how it would feel when I would finally reach there, finally belong with the one I loved, kept me on my toes all day. And why should it not ! After all I had secured admission at one of my dream universities : Carnegie Mellon University. It was one of the most hallowed universities across the world, and an admission letter from there for the masters course I had applied for, felt nothing less than an acceptance reply to my love letter. I had already spent days and nights researching on the school, it's courses and curriculum, it's campus. I was in love.

Year 2012. I had been applying to universities for pursuing MS. I was into 4th year of my engineering and had already taken GRE and TOEFL exams some months before that. Ranking of the universities and their affordability for someone like me coming from a pure middle class family, played two key roles for my selection of schools.

I still remember how dazed I used to be those days. The high that came from preparing myself, reading and re-reading my statements of purpose, getting them verified, polishing my resume and profile...was very much comparable to the feeling of joy one would have, while grooming herself knowing that she had a high chance of meeting her crush that night, and taking it forward.

No wonder, the admission letter made my day. Soon , the university set up a connect among all the students joining that course , and even appointed guides and mentors from the admission office to answer our queries. As if I had already not been smitten by CMU's people by reading and re-reading Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" ! The way this college showed it's expertise in dealing with students who were yet to confirm acceptance of admission offer, guiding them through all kinds of career queries swept me off my feet. My respect for the college heightened.

But like any other love story, here too we had a villain. The villain was my "lack of experience". I was only finishing my engineering that time. I already had a job in my hand ,in a software company as a programmer. The course itself revolved around programming and wanted us to pick out some subjects of our choice. I and no experience with that. Elle Fisher and Christina (names changed) were the two people from CMU who had been selflessly dedicating their time in guiding us, the soon-to-be students; about the courses that would be good to have , mapping them to our interest and so on. Still, deep in my mind I had this fear of making inexperienced choices. I mean, I still hadn't done a job ! I didn't know which job felt like what...which job led to what kind of career. What if after choosing the courses I would figure end of the day that they didn't give me the kind of job that I would like ? What if I ended up not liking programming job in the end?

Keeping up with its generosity, the university gave me a rare opportunity. " If you're nervous that you don't have enough experience , take a break, honey" Elle had told me. She advised me to keep my seat reserved for next year, at no cost , pursue my job at the software company, and then take a call on coming back. After all, taking a break often helps settle the dust.

So I went for it. Within a few months into my job, I happened to realize programming was indeed not something I would like to do for rest of my life. I had started growing an inclination towards different areas.....business analytics and strategy management.

I spoke to Elle to confirm that programming and coding were the main kinds of jobs that students would get into , post that course. Longing for any other career would mean I would have to put in extra effort or leave it to luck. But the programming jobs that people would get into, after that course would be the best ones globally, no doubt .

That's where I reached a tricky juncture. Having the best job in the world in a domain that I already didn't like, would that be fine?

I sat down to do my calculations, okay what if I decided to put in those extra efforts and seek non-programming jobs after that masters ? Could I afford it ? The answer was NO.

After a scholarship that I was entitled to, the fees was coming to something which I could have managed from bank loan..I couldn't keep my home as a collateral due to personal reasons, and in no way did I want to use up my father's balance , since he was to retire soon, and I thought he should keep something for his emergency. Now with a bank loan, I couldn't have the luxury to experiment with my career by looking for options of my choice. I would have to pick the best paying jobs there....and those would be programming.

It took me several days...yet another set of sleepless nights, to finally draft that mail to Elle and Christina, stating that I had decided to pull away from my reserved seat due to changes in my plan. Those saying that it's easy for the ones who do the breaking-up, I tell you....it's NOT ! I had even chosen the locality where I would be staying in Pittsburgh. I had done so much of Googling on where the stores were, where the nearest mall was..that I had this picture embedded in my mind. Pittsburgh felt home. And now I was no more going home. The pain of separation was real.

A few years went by. By then I had figured out that situations weren't all rosy around....and it would make more sense to go to the USA for higher studies only if I could have enough bank balance as a back up. So I chose to give that option up. Anyways I was now happily working in a company as a consultant, working in analytics just the way I had wanted. Just the way people go into rebounds to get over the past heart break, I had also taken CAT and XAT, casually, so as to remind myself I still had things to look forward to.

Even before I appeared for those exams, my friends had reminded me :" it's your first attempt right ? That too without coaching ? No worries. Take it as a trial attempt. Don't be dis-heartened....try again next year. We all have been trying for 2-3 years now"

So no wonder, I had least expectation out of myself anyhow.

But surprisingly, despite these wishes, I ended up getting called by one of the top colleges in India. This was a sheer case of the right kind of love coming to you when you would not be looking for it desperately.

It so happened that I received the call and had to fly to Kolkata in a very short span of time to avail the interview slot of SPJIMR, Mumbai. This was probably the best thing happening to me, because it was the only college in India that would let you choose your specialization even before joining. And I had made a careful choice this time, and applied for "MBA - Information Management ", which was totally aligned with my career interest. It was a marriage I was stepping into, after years of heart break, with the one who seemed perfectly carved out for a now-experienced me!

I still remember I was the only one who had appeared without wearing a blazer for the interview. I was so not coached for MBA admission interview that I didn't even know that it was more of a necessity to be completely suited up. Once I had cleared the initial round, I knew blazer no more mattered. In the second round, I was surprisingly relaxed. Just when the round was about to get over, one of the panelists mentioned , " so you should.know...since last year, we have made it a compulsion for all our students to visit universities in the USA".

" OH right.." said the other panelist, " so we have tie ups with 4 different universities for our 4 specializations. Each University is best in class in its area. Your are applying for... Information Management right ?" He asked me, going through my papers

" Yes, that's right ", I said , hoping he didn't ask me if I knew which university it was for me...because frankly, I didn't. I had barely got any time to research on that.

" Oh very good. So for you,it is." he said, checking back to confirm, " yeah Carnegie Mellon University"

As he mentioned the name, the room seemed to become extra silent for me while those three words echoed in my head : Carnegie Mellon University !

What was happening ? Did I hear him right ?

" So you mean. I'll be flying there anyways, if I get in for this MBA program ?" I asked, slowly to clarify , "no extra condition. Like GPA / anything ?"

"No no ! This is not exchange program. You will need all those criteria for exchange ...that's different. This is compulsory. We want all our students to experience the best in the world. That's a compulsion, " he smiled.

That day I didn't worry about if I would clear the interview. Something in my mind said I had enough signs that it was meant to be .

A year later. June 2016. I found myself sitting by the green lawn of CMU, grabbing lunch with my friends from one of the carts that sold chicken wraps. I had read about them years back while researching frantically on its campus life. It overlooked the ground that I had seen in most of the photos. Finishing the lunch, I decided to skip the last lecture that was due for the day. As my friends moved towards the class, I sat there , looking around, inhaling the air that I had imagined so much about. Picking up my bag, I started walking out of the campus towards the residential area of Pittsburgh for a stroll. This was probably one of those places where I would have lived .

It was all there. Right there. As I had imagined. In fact, more beautiful than my imagination.

This was my story of how I had loved all of it, and yet let go. Now that it had come back....there was no doubt it was mine, and we were meant to be.

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