Born the eldest grandchild in the family, I was showered with love and praise my whole childhood. That, among other things, eventually shaped me into a man who constantly craved the validation of others. Facebook and Instagram likes only made things worse. Fast-forward several years and I now find myself in my third year at SOAS, University of London. I am President of a society, editor of the university’s monthly newspaper and a student representative of my course.
Yet, I cannot help but think that I am living my life merely to please others. There are times where I remember one person’s remarks being sufficient to ruin my whole day, prompting me to rethink the entire way I interacted with friends, family and strangers. But if SOAS has taught me anything in these past three years, it’s that you can break your own back trying to be the kindest, most helpful and amicable being on the planet but the world will still find reasons to despise you. Being true to oneself in a world as fake as the one we are living in today is no longer an attitude of choice. It has become necessary. And so, I start off this article with a simple message for anyone who bothered to pick up this last issue of the SOAS Spirit or read it online: don’t let others decide how you should live your life or how you should present yourself in a public setting. Set your own goals and strive to achieve them. It might seem intimidating at first but as soon as you learn to not become dependent on the validation of others, your life will improve exponentially. I promise.
Now, let’s move on to a topic that is very close to my heart. SOAS, unbeknownst to me 3 years ago, would be the place I would miss the most when it would be time for me to leave. It’s still only the beginning of March and it feels like all SOAS faculty and friends are becoming a distant memory. We are in the middle of UCU strikes and a very snowy week in London as a storm dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ strikes the country, delaying spring until further notice. Students have stopped coming to university and the lecture theatres, corridors and classrooms seem empty and devoid of life. This wasn’t the send-off I was expecting as a final year student but I guess I can’t complain, considering how lively the previous two years have been.
The elections, the protests, the UGMs and the oh-so-beautiful JCR are what makes SOAS so unique and special. I’ll miss the adrenaline rush I would get before delivering a big speech at Hustings or before a Society event. I’ll miss the feeling of euphoria after finishing an assignment at the very last minute. I’ll miss the smell of delicious Hare Krishna food emanating from the stall next to the Main Building. I’ll miss many more things about SOAS but most of all, I’ll miss the people who made SOAS feel like home. They accepted me despite my shortcomings, my (at times) childish behaviour, my stubborn-ness and vanity. I wish them all the best that life can offer and hope that I can see them again sometime in the future. This looks unlikely for the time being, considering that I’ll be thousands of miles away in a country with not the best reputation in terms of security, law and order. But things are getting better gradually and SOASians are brave people in general so I should still keep my hopes up. As I now leave SOAS behind for what appears to be the last time and step into the real world, I fear nothing. I have all that I need…except for a job.