A few weeks ago, my mom asked me what I had learned at Tech in light of my rapidly approaching graduation. That sweet little Indian lady is the master of asking loaded questions, as you can see, so I told her 11 a.m. was too early in the morning and to let me go back to sleep. But if I had to answer the question now, here’s what I’d say.
“I learned to grab life and to see it for exactly what it is – terrifying, difficult and unpredictable, also known as beautiful.”
It’s the middle of the summer of 2009—a hot, lazy day in July somewhere in Newnan, Georgia. Most people are relaxing by the pool, while others are still chasing after the ice cream truck that never actually stops but rather continues to play creepy music. What am I doing? Well, what started as bumming around in front of the television with ice cream I had found in my freezer quickly turned into me begging my mom to not let me go to college in the next month. My poor dad was utterly and completely perplexed by my emotions, but that’s what happens when you throw a 50-year-old Indian man who is an engineer into an emotional situation. But you see, I was used to being (at least perceived as) the smartest, the friendliest, the whatever-est, and suddenly had zero interest in not being smart enough, interesting enough or funny enough to make good grades, good friends or good anything.
Fast forward a few short weeks and my parents hadn’t quite bought into my not going to college. I’m now meeting dozens of people a day—some would become my closest friends in the whole world, and others would become the Facebook friends I haven’t seen in four years but with whom I can share the occasional mutual status “like.” My first conversation with someone who would unexpectedly become my best friend (as in, we’re going to one day be neighbors and have a pool that spans across our backyards) was about weather.
Over the next few months and eventually years, I finally understood what it meant to not have a clue what the hell was going on in school as I navigated through Calculus, Physics and Chemistry, to name a few. I hit academic rock bottom dozens of times, and to this day, I hope I never have to travel back in time to high-school Kamna and tell her what has happened.
In between all the confusion, I managed to swipe a copy of the Technique student newspaper, not expecting that those 28 pages would soon define my four years at Tech. I popped into my first Technique meeting, where I awkwardly stood in a corner and ate pizza, not knowing that I was standing in my future home the whole time. My first article made the front page of the paper, as did several subsequent articles, all of which were hung on my parents’ fridge, replacing the years of academic accolades that had once cluttered it.
I won’t give you an overly detailed report of my time at Tech (although you can friend me on Facebook and follow four years worth of almost daily statuses), but I’ll give you a few highlights and themes: I was scared. I was lost. I made the same mistake every day for all of college. I thought about switching my major. I lied to myself. I lay awake at night wondering what would happen next. I took myself too seriously. I was an awful mentor. I was distraught. I lost friendships. I stressed to the point of sickness. I was too proud to tell the truth. I hated people. I didn’t take myself seriously enough. I still make the same mistake. I was impatient beyond belief. I wondered if I had any of the trifecta of sleep, grades and friends. I disappointed people. I disappointed myself.
But you know what’s happening today, years later?
I am brave beyond belief. I hold my weaknesses as close to me my strengths. I have beautiful friendships. I am both a young grasshopper and a teacher. I take myself as seriously as I should. I switched my major. I know that everything happens for a reason. I have some of the best brothers (read: Brohani) I will ever find, including my own biological brother. I have spent hundreds of hours with the greatest people I will ever know at the coolest newspaper I’ll ever be part of. I eat cake with my friends like college students order rounds of drinks. I walk by faith and not by sight. I think going by “KB” has made my life ten times more efficient. I know exactly where I want to go, but life won’t end if it doesn’t work out. I have reached a civil understanding with even the clandestine white squirrels of this campus. I know the difference between a bullfrog and a bear. I celebrate everyone’s happiness as though it were my own. I know my first task at my first full-time job will be to teleconference my freshman year roommate because I can. I fill your Facebook feed with seemingly pointless statuses that somehow crack you up. I like corgis. I love Tech with every cell in my body.
So what did I learn? I learned to grab life and to see it for exactly what it is—terrifying, difficult and unpredictable, also known as beautiful. And this is absolutely the most important thing I have learned at Tech —that life is beautiful and so are you. Peace up, strife down, Georgia Tech. Love, KB.