It was 27th July 2022, we were all sitting in a huge hall at a luxury hotel in Lonavala, surrounded by 60 odd people with whom we had had the least amount of acquaintance with, ready to learn about our own selves and others. Yes, I am talking about the Personal Growth (PG) lab at SPJIMR! Even before coming here, I had been anticipating it. And what an experience it was, each session, I literally sat at the edge of my chair, soaking in every new experience possible.
In the very first session, the instructor pulled up a presentation, gave us a questionnaire and with the analysis of our answers, literally started uncovering our personalities. I thought I knew myself quite well before that session, but these sessions added so much value and quickly became my favourite. The very first exercise had me contemplating my belief “Nobody understands me” and easing into “Nobody understands me, but maybe that has more to do with the fact that I don’t let them enough into my world”. At that point I knew, PG lab would be the experience of a lifetime.
And it was! I still feel goosebumps when I think about the best day of my life, the most unforgettable memory from the trip- the Trek day! I can safely say I hadn’t experienced anything like that in the 21 years of my existence. My entire self-concept was based around academics and I never saw myself capable of anything even remotely athletic, let alone climbing a rocky mountain! Even as I write this statement in the present, I cannot believe that in reality I climbed the entire trek, went up at almost a 90-degree slope and through swamps, in rain, and that too, with 60 strangers, who became acquaintances and now are my closest friends. At each step, I was absolutely convinced I couldn’t go further, but nudging myself to take one step and then the next, I conquered it. With each step that I took on the trek, I could actually feel my confidence increase and my concept of self, expand.
Another eye-opener was the realisation that I felt absolutely mortified to ask for help and to depend on other people. My nurtured my mind every time I sat and read books at my desk, but I almost always passed on opportunities to enlarge my comfort zone. I had only begun to realise my obliviousness to the brilliance that lay beyond a classroom. A perfectionist at heart, I also realised there was no way I could be the best at doing this activity in a moment’s time. I had to come to terms with things I always knew theoretically: It was okay to not be the best everywhere. It was okay to relax and let go sometimes. It was okay to not know everything, and it was okay to give up control. I simply had to, there was no other way. Slowly but steadily, I could see myself loosening my deathlike grip on the metaphoric steering wheel of my life and for once take my attention away from reaching the destination to enjoying the journey and also appreciating my fellow companions.
I-am-the-person-who-doesn’t-need-help, somehow had become part of my ego, my identity. But there I was, on a mountain, midway to the top with absolutely no way out! Not taking help and not depending wasn’t even an option! The whole journey uphill and eventually descending from the top of Duke’s Nose was a first for me, an experience of relying on different people at different times. And in the end, I realised that maybe it was actually okay to ask for help and depend. The realisations made me so overwhelmed and I wanted nothing more than to sit on the mountain and pen my thoughts right there itself!
The PG lab’s mission stood true for me. A truly unforgettable experience it was. And as I write the ending of this piece, I have a nostalgic smile on my face. I am beyond grateful for being able to experience those three days and also being able to live the experience again through words!