Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The image is still fresh in my mind like it happened yesterday. Surrounded by suitcases in an empty room, my parents next to me- listing out every point of the dos and don’ts of college life – “Don’t ride a bike”, “Don’t eat outside too much, you’ll fall sick”, “Don’t bunk classes too much”, “Don’t sleep very late at night” – the list is pretty endless. But I wasn’t listening to them. Words came into one ear and out of the other. I was more fixated on the massive change of environment that I had just experienced. There were four metal cots in the room, along with four rusted tables, and four chairs that would make your butt numb with pain. Where have I ended up? New people. New room. New everything. I’m not someone who adjusts to change easily. I cringe at the thought of even having to introduce myself to someone new. And this was an ocean of a change. “What the hell am I going to do here for four years?”

Fast forward three years. The past semester, a topic often brought up during mess/dhaba dinners was “Machan, we’re going to be in final year da.” In the blink of an eye, that 18 year old kid who had no idea how he was going to spend four years in the same place, now has just one year left. Only one more year with that rusted table, only one more year with that uncomfortable chair, and most importantly, only one more year with some of the best people I’ve ever met – batchmates as well as juniors.

Do I have any regrets about my three years in NITT? Of course, yes. And I’m pretty sure that many of my batch mates would give the same answer. Life in college is hectic, no doubt about that. We’re so caught up with college work, club work and what we’ll be doing after college that we forget to think about the now. We’re just chasing deadlines all the time.We miss out on the opportunity to meet some amazing people, we speak without thinking, and words that should have been spoken, are not.

‘Two steps forward, one step back’ is a phrase that conventionally implies making progress, but slowly and arduously. You make progress, but then you face a setback. However, there’s actually a much deeper, more optimistic, but yet less well known meaning to this phrase. Ironically, I happened to learn about this from a TV show meant for ten year olds.

I was pretty bored during the first week of my summer break. One Thursday, taking #tbt a bit too seriously, I decided to watch an episode of one of my favorite cartoons from when I was a kid – ‘Recess’. The cartoon follows the adventures of six fourth grade kids, and their encounters in their elementary school. In this particular episode, one of the kids talks about living life with the ‘Two steps forward, one step back’ mantra. “Whenever you walk, take two steps forward and then one step back. Sure, this slows you down; but it makes you look at what you missed around you in that hurry to take the second step.”

Being goal oriented is important, but on our path to achieving that goal, we must not forget to look around us. In the hurry to end up at the top of your class, in the hurry to get placed at your dream company, in the hurry to get an admit into your dream university; always remember, two steps forward, one step back. Take it slow. Work to the best of your potential towards your goal, but remember to take a step back, look around you, and breathe. You’re never going to get these four years back.

Remember that conversation you had to cut short because you were in a hurry? Go back and start the conversation. Remember your friend from first year who you eventually drifted away from? Plan a dinner with him/her. Remember that thing you always wanted to try out but never had the time? Take a break and do it. Speak the words that you didn’t speak before, do what you want do but didn’t do it before.

To my fellow batch mates. We have a year more left at this place. Let’s make it worthwhile. Remember, two steps forward, one step back.

–  Sandeep Krishnakumar



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