Watch Out!
Student Media
Body of IITR
About Guide Get Involved


Memoir: Outside the Wall

May 25, 2019
- Indroneil Kanungo

Humans are today the most dominant species on the planet and it wasn’t always the case. It is because we developed a unique evolutionary advantage: our ability to socialize and communicate complex ideas using a language. In prehistoric times, this is what helped us gain the strategic advantage over creatures with superior speed, agility, claws and teeth. And today it helps us with much more than that. One way it significantly improves our lives, that we usually take for granted, is that we have not only the ability to learn from our mistakes, but also from the mistakes of anyone, anywhere on the planet, alive or otherwise. In that spirit, I would like to share with you guys the mistakes I’ve made, and the things that went wrong for me, so you can avoid them.

For reasons that are too personal, I was severely depressed through my second until about the middle of my fourth year. And as far as we know, depression is more common today than has ever been. It’s my opinion that at least a part of the reason is capitalism - which forces us to go against our natural instincts to cooperate and requires us to compete against the same friends that we help cheat in an exam. Our entire economy and education system is based around that principle - of competition. But regardless of the reasons, you have to live with it. When I look back at myself 5 years ago, I see a person who could have succeeded in any of the fields he desired. I had a really nice social life. I was pretty good at physics, math, coding, badminton, music and I could have chosen any of those but instead what I chose was to lie on my bed all day, staring at the ceiling, contemplating ways to kill myself. It’s impossible to imagine a better version of yourself when you’re in that state. You feel that you’re a burden to everyone. As a result, all your attempts at convincing yourself to get help or to reach out to your friends will be in vain. This only makes it worse. But if there’s one thing I could say to that person, I’d tell him to seek therapy or psychiatric help without a second thought. It’s easy to forget that no matter how “sentient”, you are really just a very complicated arrangement of atoms, and tiny things like talking about some stuff to the right person, or the right chemicals in your bloodstream, can have a drastic effect on your mood. So if you think you’re feeling depressed, please don’t throw away your career like I did, and get professional help. And before you ask, NO, you’re not “too smart for therapy”.

I should have probably started with this. But as some of you may know already, I haven’t really graduated. I have dropped out of college as I didn’t think the time and the effort I’d have to give in order to get a degree would be worth it, and I hope I will not be proven wrong. I am going to pursue a career as a full-time musician. I have joined a music school in Mumbai and will be staying there for the foreseeable future. Deciding what I had to do was rather easy for me because all of the other options had been destroyed. But most of you people reading this likely do not have their lives as “sorted out” as mine so I think you could use some help. Through most of your life and especially in your college, you will struggle to please a set of people around you. It could be your parents, relatives, your teachers, employers, friends or even yourself. Life is easy as long as you can please every one of those at the same time. But here’s the thing : after a certain point, you can’t. That point typically comes around adolescence. And I think it should be the objective of your college life to figure out, who it is that you want to please. You should keep in mind that there are no wrong answers here. There’s no right way to live life. But not having an answer could make your life potentially difficult in the future. Not that you asked, but I have found my answer. I have realized that I want to try my best to make myself happy irrespective of whether the other people in the list disapprove. Writing and listening to good music is something that makes me very happy and if you haven’t already, I think all of you should try to figure out what the thing is that makes you just as happy.

Your college life is a very critical time of your life. The tiniest of your actions have enormous, unpredictable consequences. So choose your actions carefully, think before you speak, and don’t do drugs kids.

But what do I know.