Winning, talking and challenging. Those were the three things I had in mind as I searched high and low for a career to spark passion and meaning. Growing up as an athlete, with backgrounds in badminton and squash, competitiveness was not foreign to me, and I always wondered, if mental fortitude would trump physical strength. And as my frequent losses displayed, lack of the former meant that winning relied heavily on our thoughts and emotions, highlighting the potential power that the mind can demonstrate. Moving on to people where I constantly found them rarely having someone to rely on, to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on. There have been countless times, where those around me, including myself, confided to someone and shared a small struggle only to be scoffed or disregarded, leaving them feeling small and alone. There had to be more to human interaction! As exploration and discussions led me to the field of Psychology, I realised the variety of dimensions one could apply Psychology and the major emphasis of human behaviour and humankind itself, and I knew I was attracted. With diverse backgrounds of people and the extensive knowledge out there, I sensed a challenge; one that I was excited but equally nervous to take on. Browsing through education fairs and websites, I stumbled across IMU, whose international standards, personalised teaching and emphasis on theoretical and practical learning prompted me to sign up for its Foundation in Science, eyeing a spot in the degree in Psychology. And thus, my journey in IMU began, with the attempt to balance academics, extracurricular activities and a decent social life for myself. Obtaining a full scholarship from IMU was a huge privilege for me, one that lifted a massive burden from our shoulders. My parents didn’t have to worry much about the financial issues related to myself, and I was able to fully focus on my life in IMU without external worries and monetary concerns. Throughout my degree, I have gotten a solid theoretical foundation in Psychology here and had many opportunities to apply those learnings into practical, realistic settings. One major thing this journey has entailed is the discovery, understanding and awareness of myself as a person, and with that, I am going into the ‘real world’ with a truer version of myself, a foundation in the theories of Psychology and the curiosity to explore more things, emotions and people. Hence, the journey is just beginning.
At IMU, the IMU Cup season was the one I looked forward to all year long and representing the Taurus House, I actively took part in sports that were close to my heart like tennis, badminton, scrabble and cooking but also dabbled my skills at new ones like squash and debate. During the 3 years, me and my team have gathered gold, silver and bronze medals (a full set, as we pride ourselves). These sports not only strengthened my passion for the game and sharpened my skills but entailed me to meet and learn from diverse groups of individuals, teaching me the very essence of teamwork. Speaking is something I am very passionate about, which led me to have emceed a multitude of events in IMU like the Ethics Forum 2018, University Day 2017 and Diwali Night 2016 and spoke at a few events such as Research Forum 2017 and Interprofessional Forum 2018. Each event brought new learnings and exposure, which constantly enhance my repertoire of skills as an emcee and public speaker. I was also humbled and grateful to be the President of the Scholars Committee 2017-2018, and the Co-Curator of the inaugural TedXIMU 2018, where being a leader was beyond show and tell, and everyone had to work towards a common goal. Both my parents and my younger brother, Shubir have always encouraged and stood by me against all odds since day one and inspired me to push through and persevere, amidst all the challenges. Undoubtedly, most of my FIS and Psychology lecturers played a huge role in pushing me to doing my best. I would like to thank my mentor, Dr Nicole for her ever-supportive attitude towards me, and my supervisor, Mr Alex, who was one of the inspirations for me to come to IMU and triggered my passion in Psychology. Also, it is impossible to look past my best friend, Shamenee, who has been there for me through ups and downs during my time here. I would also like to thank all my friends, from Psychology to IMU Cup to the Scholars committee, those within and outside IMU. All of you not only pushed me to be a better student or friend, but also a better individual, and I am where I am now because of the people around me, most of whom I have encountered during my life at IMU. Aside from the people in my life, my passion for the field of Psychology never failed to motivate me, and the feeling that what I have learnt and done in IMU so far, is only the tip of the iceberg, and there is so much more out there for me to explore; to go out there and be someone for others, to be fascinated by the multi dimensions of human beings. Adding to that, being someone who enjoys a challenge, as the semesters got tougher, the excitement and hunger to push through became even more prominent, which helped balance the negativity, lethargy and demotivation that I sometimes experienced. Furthermore, through these opportunities, I get to listen to my friends and acquaintances, applying some skills from Psychology and from my belief that ‘everyone deserves someone to talk to’, the gift of being able to be there for someone is priceless and valuable, and it reminds me of my biases, weaknesses and judgments that so often clouds my perception of people.
In the beginning, I reacted quite mildly to graduation, everything felt so normal and expected. Then things started changing. Posters were up, pictures of robes everywhere, farewell messages were circulating all around and then all the experiences here came flooding back to me! So many emotions were lingering in my head; joy, excitement, regret, sadness and gratitude. Leaving IMU felt like the sealing of a meaningful gift that I am taking with me after spending 4 years here at IMU, one that contains memories, meaning and power. At the same time, knowing that I am the recipient of the Tun Zahir Merit Award, I felt utmost happiness and joy, as one can never imagine! I an so happy that I felt the urge to just climb up to the tallest building and jump! I felt love that brings butterflies to the stomach and smiles to the heart. I also felt anxiety that brings sweat to my hands, and palpitations to my heart, now that I am leaving university. Being labelled as ‘kiasu’ most of the time, naturally I would have lots of ideas in mind with regards to what I want to do in the future! On a more serious note, I’m focusing on sharpening and enhancing my repertoire of skills as an emcee (Master of Ceremonies), to volunteer at organisations that provide mental health services, and to eventually pursue my Masters in Clinical Psychology.
My journey in IMU has been unexpected, eye opening and powerful. Isn’t that life after all? And throughout all that, one element that I was striving to was to always live in the present, to cherish the little things and appreciate the moment, things and people around you. Because once you do that, you live life to the fullest. And I can tell you, it feels amazing!
Written by Shamir Das A/L KN Kavidas Related article: IMU Graduates Celebrated a Milestone at the University’s Convocation Ceremony 2018