Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

“….No college? You plan to just sit at home for a year?”

The magic of growing up in India is that, every individual has a unique story to tell. I was born to a typical Bengali family of high academic rank holders and toppers. When I graduated from high school, I had boldly decided to take an unconventional detour because I believed that I was more than a piece of paper judging me. The concept is not anew, but it was a life decision uncommon to my background. To most people it was hard to accept the fact that I was not attending college. Many often reminded me about the adverse effects and dreadful uncertainties of my “wasteful” decision. People often confuse a gap year with inactivity whereas my reality was far from it.

My fulfilling experience included photography shoots, trying my hand at videography, learning new software like Adobe Illustrator and Premier Pro, classical piano training and music making, reading mind expanding books, studying neuroscience and economics via online courses, attending my first MUN conference, and so on.

In the age of online tutorials, learning image post production is a just click away. As an amateur photographer, it was indeed an exciting challenge to understand all the technical factors that made a photo ‘great’. I interned at a photography firm called Oodio where, along with technical skills and work responsibilities, I also learnt priceless people skills. The work environment gave me a taste of the real world; decisions have consequences. It also helped me network and interact at entrepreneurial hubs such as the Microsoft Accelerator and Startup Leardership Program.

Further, I took my passion to argue – to the masses through The Debate Club, and ever since I have been better informed about the world and myself. In this active life I led in exploration, I met very interesting people and built truly wonderful relationships.

Although I felt quite scared, I chose to add value to my life and engage in things that I felt a personal connection with. I set goals and began to venture into things that I had very little experience in. By pursuing what I love, for the first time I was not living someone else’s life. My motivation was not to build an impressive résumé, but to acquire important life skills that took me closer to a happy place— mentally and physically.