Showing people the real you

Photo courtesy of Rish Desai, Student Publications

Recently, I took a trip down memory lane and stumbled upon a picture of a six-year-old Rish. In this picture, there he was sitting in front of a toy computer at his toy desk and his dad’s (real) Bluetooth headset on. Little did I know that this little moment back in Columbus, Ohio would be the start of something special for me. From that moment onward, I had the dream of one day pursuing a future in the tech industry. Shortly after, this dream transformed and became
pursuing a CS degree at Tech.    

Fast forward to now: I am a matter of weeks away from graduating with the degree that “Little Rish” had dreamed of. Being just an arm’s reach from this occasion, I have taken some time to reflect on the road to get here.

This past spring break, when I would look out into nature’s mirror, the ocean, I would see the journey to get to this point. 

I would see the different hats that I have worn during my time at Tech. These have ranged from being a podcast host at the Technique, to being Strategy Lead at GT Solar Racing to being a friendly “Rishtopher” to those around me. The ocean and I have a similar story. On the surface, you see the smooth waves and clear water. As you look deeper in, you see the deeper story that makes up the ocean.

One of the hats that has added the most to my Tech experience was being a podcast host. This allowed me to connect to the Tech community in a new way, but it also taught me an extremely important lesson. 

We often spend large chunks of our energy trying to put forth an idealistic persona and hide life’s trials. The elegance of our true self comes forward when we choose to show our true selves and what makes us who we truly are. Sharing the challenges that we have either faced or are currently facing demonstrates a new way that we can connect with one another. Every time we choose to open up, it makes the world a better place. 

In sharing different episodes of my story throughout my time hosting the podcast, I learned that our story is our story not just because of the ups, but also because of the downs that we have faced along the journey. The way we were able to overcome these moments and make it closer to fulfilling the dreams of our younger selves are all part of our story. 

As we are going through the challenges, the people around us are also going through the same or similar challenges. By opening up, we find new ways of supporting each other through life’s curveballs. 

While I am no longer the host of the podcast, this is a lesson that has shaped me into who I am and is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. 

Before, when I used to talk to my peers, I would disguise the low points of my journey. Now, I do not shy away from these moments because those are the moments that have made my journey complete. Oftentimes, we can find new ways of connecting with one another or find new ways to inspire each other. 

The ocean is one that generally looks calm and at peace with the gradual transition into the crystal-clear cyan skies. But, to get to the calm, it has to find triumph over the stormy days to return back to its glory. 

This is an aspect that continues to resonate with me. We all like the smiles and the laughs we share. We find the obstacles that give us a slight detour that give us a moment to acknowledge the other side and allow us to come back to the smiles in a new way. 

When I look back at my four years, I can look back fondly at all the relationships I have made, all the incredible moments I have gotten to have been part of and all the lessons that I have added to my toolbox along the way. 

I can look back to my six-year-old self and proudly smile at him while we listen to “Look How Far We’ve Come” by Quinn XCII. 

I am fortunate for all the opportunities that I have gotten to have been part of. Words cannot describe what the Institute and the Tech community have done for me, which is ironic considering that is what I am attempting to do here. 

I hope that as I get ready to enter into a new chapter, I have left even a fraction of an impact on this school and the community as they have left me. 

As we all continue the stories of our lives, let us continue to celebrate the high points, but also embrace the low points for making us who we are.