The very clichéd advice of ‘dream big’ has been a part of my everyday life while growing up. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, including those of my peers would only have those two words to say to me at family events, festivals, and even birthday parties! Over the course of time, it had all become very meaningless to me, mostly because whatever I had ‘dreamt’ of as a child had not quite taken shape. I had dreamt of being in the veterinary sciences, medical sciences, animation sciences too, but they weren’t quite realistic, at least not for someone like me.
Herein comes the importance of where I am now. The Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal. This past year has been a year of many firsts: My first degree, my first successful attempt at a competitive exam, my first interview as an adult and my first dream that came true.
I have heard of so many people, working or studying at places that only the cream of the cream go to, who are only just surviving because they must. The don’t love it, they’re not happy and they definitely wouldn’t hesitate to drop it all and leave, something I have not observed in anyone that I have encountered in my one year at IIFM, since June 2018. My seniors, my batch and my juniors roam free at this institute, and not just in the vast campus, but also in life.
IIFM gives us the chance of choosing where we want to go, be it in the annual adventure camp, or in the form of a career. Whether you want to live in the mixed evergreen forests of the Vidarbha landscape and walk with the wild, or wish to magically play with numbers such that your selfless effort helps out women, children and farmers in need, you will find the way, if you start at IIFM.
We, at this institute, are taught to look at the greater good, to realize there is so much more to life than an air-conditioned office that comes free with a seven-digit-salary, to look at the bigger picture in terms of people, the environment and species that walk the earth with us and to help ourselves rise to a platform where we can be the kind of people that we have always wanted to be.
IIFM has taught me to be courageous, to experiment, to find what makes me happy, to live my life the way I want to and not the way it has been dictated to me, but most importantly, it has taught me to appreciate the clichéd advice of ‘dream big’. I have found my calling at this institute I now call home, and it may not have been like the ‘Eureka!’ moment in the movies we like to watch, but it has, without a doubt, made me someone who can stand on a giant stage in front of the world and say with confidence, that I, for the first time in twenty-three years, am finally proud of myself.