All I’ve read recently are my own B-School essays. As much because of lack of time, as because of a chain of uninspiring reads. I haven’t had much time to travel or watch movies either, and hence the virtual absence since October. I promise to catch up though; I’m working on the top 100 books of all times and evading my own book purchase decisions for a bit by relying on friends’ recommendations (currently reading – Secret Garden by Frances Burnett).
That was a mini-defense for preparing to deviate from the theme of this blog; but I really do want to write about my current reads – my application essays. Maybe I’ll post them here once I’m done and lose my entire readership and people will understand what I meant by my initial warning of having a “monkey mind”. But there is a point to this, I promise. The process for writing these works of art really did get my ruminative juices flowing. Yes, business school essays got me ruminating.
Have you ever considered the amount of interesting introspection that goes in these applications? I say introspective because questions on your background, choices, accomplishments, strengths/weaknesses etc really make you think hard…and interesting – because this thinking is not for reminiscing, or reflecting or discovering yourself, but for selling yourself.
Now that changes perspective entirely – all of a sudden you’re not only introspective, you’re retrospective. If I had chosen Math as a joint major, it would make it easier to discuss why I really want to go with microfinance after I graduate. I can and will contribute to the diversity of Class of 2012 given my rich educational record of study in International Relations, but shouldn’t I have then done IR in say, Denmark instead of plain old Boston, USA?
You get the picture. In all this retrospection, I realized I was constantly looking for a fresh perspective and angles to sell my experience. Unfortunately, once you go through an incoherent first draft, it’s kind of hard to shake out of the incoherence of it and look at the last draft afresh…similar, I would say, to many things in life.
It makes you wonder, this retrospection thing – wouldn’t it be great if we could just not want to change a thing in retrospect? What is in retrospect anyway, who created this? I think retrospection makes us futureskeptical – skeptical about the future, given how awfully awry some of our choices have finally landed up being. It mars our thinking going forward because no more are choices about the here and now, but about what was and has been that we affectionately term experience.
Experience is all very good when it augments our future decisions, but it also has a tendency to become a baggage many times in daily life. Can’t we perhaps delete cookies when we want? For instance, I would definitely delete cookies with my first driving experience, which was comedic and horrifying at the same time. I have since never been able to conquer what has now become a monster task for me. I would like to delete that first experience and start over. This is top of mind recall because in a city like Delhi, you absolutely must know driving to get around.
Let’s see…I severely need deleting cookies at work too. A consistent feedback on my essays – the tone of the content was all business speak, where is the personal, aspirational touch. To quote one of my wise friends, “Adding value is an ugly industrial term. Do you want to be a faceless value-adding cog in the wheel!” Somewhere in the midst of “adding value” at work and “communicating impact fully” in sales meetings and “forging mutually beneficial” partnerships, I lost touch with my personal conversational style. Certainly could do with fresh perspective at work.
But what would life really be without growth from the past? In love, deleting cookies probably means going back to our first relationship – most of us would probably delete the word relationships from our vocabularies if we had to go through that again! If you don’t feel this way, then, you may not enjoy this post. If you do, then think of this as a microcosm representative of deleting cookies in other spheres of life.
The truth is deleting cookies is not so attractive when actually applied to life. Think about it, even B-schools rephrase their questions to get to the bottom of your “biggest mistake”, “why a personal goal could not be met”, “what is the one thing you would want to change from your past choices”. B-school people are busy people. Busy people don’t waste time on questions that don’t mean anything; it seems to be an institutionalized fact that imperfections create stars.
And of course, retrospection is almost always accompanied by its half-sister – regret. But there is no end to the “what if” cycle of our minds. As someone rightly said “There is no end to regret. You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should u regret the whole chain, and the air in between, or each link separately as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly or just the ending itself?”
And so as I thought about it more, I kind of started buying into the whole spiritual idea of keeping the experiences, but letting go of the negativity. Don’t worry, I’m not a fan of Buddha, or rather Buddha is not a fan of me. I can think about something upsetting that happened years back and still get all red, angry and dramatic about it. But I like to think I’m getting better at deleting cookies in real life. Not with computerized clicks but with the awesome can-be done-yourself toolkits only humans can boast of: sleep, humor, friends, wine, food…and giant chocolate chip cookies the size of my head.
**Coming up next, Christmas and New Years specials