I vividly remember the summer of 2018. I was 16years old, my 12th boards exams were over and I felt like a free bird ready to fly higher in the open blue sky. That is what every teenager would think right? And of course I was no exception. I was in a mood to enjoy, have fun and hang out with friends. Thanks to me, I had a little bit of seriousness about life too. At this stage I decided to take a gap year and spend this whole year to know myself, introspect and become a better version of mine. It is not common to take such decisions in our country. Though investing a complete year for my betterment was a wise decision, I could find no path to walk on.
One day I was walking through the corridor of my French class and a poster caught my attention. I read it with curiosity. 'Let's Make A Difference', the name was catchy but I could not get any idea of what it was about. I ignored the poster and as I turned to go back to the class, I saw Tasneem standing behind me. She was a very good friend of mine. "Are you planning to go?" She asked. "Nope, not really. I don't even know what it is. Have you been there(to LMAD)?" She nodded. It was unexpected. "It is something a person like you should never miss. I guarantee you'll be back as a changed personality." She was specific and confident. Her words were enough to bring me in the LMAD National Youth Conference 2018. I came for this without even knowing anybody and the concept on which this all was about. I packed my bags, took the bus and directly came to a mesmerizing place, Asia Plateau.
What I experienced in this conference cannot be expressed in words. Youngsters across the country were here. We spent 8 complete days together knowing ourselves. Till that day conscience, introspection, intuition, soul were the words I never thought about. But now I became very comfortable with these concepts. I was an introvert, keeping my things to me only. I was not comfortable in social occasions. There was a huge sack of stories that I always wanted to share with people but I could not. I realized that though my parents and I were good to each other; I could not feel a strong bond. This conference brought appreciative changes within me. A shy person like me talked profoundly in group discussions, I shared the things that I didn't even dream about. People I met here were as good as my family. The question 'who am I?'was troubling me for a long time but here I received the most powerful tool to find the answer. I experienced what true relations are. These magical days showed me the path I was looking for.
As soon as the conference was over, I brought some major changes. I shared everything about myself with my parents, even the things about which I had a strong guilt. They were extremely happy to listen me and they could observe a complete shift in my personality. They felt as if they got their son back. That was the day they became my friends along with parents. At this crucial stage I decided to use my time efficiently. I started solo travelling across India, not in a touristic way but with a real and deep sense of exploration, introspection and self awareness. I visited some of the most rural parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha. I saw Kerala in the time of floods. Exploring spiritual and cultural insights of Pondicherry was a different experience in itself. And finally in Varanasi I could connect with myself. All these adventures brought immense improvements within me and my personality. LMAD was the place that made me realise that I wanted a life like this. The values taught in LMAD lifted the experiences of my travelling. Going ahead with these adventures I got the opportunity to attend the December workshop 2018 of LMAD. In this workshop I spent days and hours continuously with myself in silence. I discovered many things which no other person including me knew before. I started living a vibrant life that I always dreamt. I had a problem of emotional expression. I used to suppress my feeelings. I could not laugh, talk or sing openly. I had a deep rooted nature of being controlled by people around me. In the workshop I understood myself and took the remote of my life back. I had not cried for 3 consecutive years because of the problem I shared. The most emotional and serious situations did not make me cry even when I wanted to. But on the last day of workshop I cried in front of 20 people without the fear of being judged. I emptied myself. That was the most beautiful moment I ever experienced.
I'll keep on writing pages after pages but somewhere I'll have to stop. Now my gap year is about to end and I'll start my education in hospitality in Switzerland. I'm sure I'll unfold unvisited paths within me and this world.