Story Of My Life: 20 Years in the Making

TinkerHub Interns Meetup, Kochi | Apr 17, 2021

A tale of how communities, people & experimentations have crafted me as a person. I wanted to make this birthday of mine special, so I decided to pen down & reflect upon how I’ve evolved as a person & express my token of gratitude to all the people who’ve been a part of it.

Hope you have a fun ride, ’cause this is gonna be really long.

I’ll divide the story into snippets.

  1. Childhood & Growing up
  2. School Life & Toxicity
  3. College Life & New Beginnings
  4. A Change of Air
  5. The Awakening
  6. COVID-19 & Experimentations
  7. Towards Possibilities

Chapter 1: Childhood & Growing up

I’d say I, fortunately, had a comfortable & loving childhood. Caring parents & family. Fun with siblings, cousins & a lot more to look back to. My parents provided everything they could to the best extent for which I’m always grateful.

My Nursery Days — Find me if you can! :)

Looking up to the percentage of kids & families on the planet who’re underprivileged, I’m thankful for this boon & it is indeed something I promise to give back & not take for granted.

Chapter 2: School Life & Toxicity

I was a huge introvert. I was this simple & innocent kid who’d never meddle into anything & didn’t even dare to speak up even if he was beaten up or have the courage to go forward to even stand in front of the class. I used to shiver.

My School was the typical Indian school you’d find that is manufacturing factories of students to catch up with the non-sensical rat-race. It was all cheerful until my 10th boards. I was studious (at least average) & would be on the good books of everyone.

Things started shaking up when I was in my 11th & 12th, which indeed change the trajectory of my life. After graduating 10th, I took admission in the same school because I was lazy enough for school scouting. One of the decisions I’ve regretted during that phase & very much grateful now that I persevered through that phase.

Once I started my 11th, I started making all the mistakes of a typical teenager. I completely detached myself from academics, started prioritizing toxic friendships over family, screwed up myself to such an extent that I was labeled as the unspoken failure of the batch followed by a lot of betrayals & bullies, mentally mostly.

I felt very isolated & hated every single day I went to the campus. The students & teachers were indeed toxic & highly partial, except for a very few in handpicked number of people - The Science Bros :)- because of whom I made it through the 2 years. I don’t even want to recall or think over even an ounce of what I went through.

This was all because I tried to fit in to be the ‘cool’ person. We, humans, are social animals. We tend to stay close to the tribe to be a part of the community, feel valued & safe. Socializing is a vital part of human culture. But within the wrong circle is toxic & devastating.

The happiest day of my life was exactly 3 years ago, when I’d finished my last 12th board & leaving the school campus once & for all. I swore never to return to the campus or meet anyone from that batch ever, except for a few people. I felt as if I was being relieved from prison. It was just bad, real bad days. But, sometimes we need to hit rock bottom so that we can get up stronger.

Chapter 3: College Life & New Beginnings

I’d completely given up my interest to do anything in life now. I’d lost all aspirations & dreams. I’d no clue what to pursue further or how to. I was keenly interested in Physics & Climate Sciences though. I was also fascinated by film making & storytelling. The technology was the bay surprising with innovations but wasn’t my key interest back then.

Having being pathless myself, my parents & family were deeply concerned & enrolled in Computer Science Engineering considering the job opportunities soon. As I look back, I don’t even regret a bit of joining engineering, because this gave me a platform for a new beginning for myself. From whatever I went through in my school life, accounts for a huge percentage of why I’m seeking to stand outside the box on every front possible & not ever fit into the rat-race or such people.

College allowed me to re-craft a completely new version of myself & to tinker outside my comfort zone. The best part was that none of my peers from school had joined my college, allowed me to experiment & fail with myself so that I can escape the rat-race & build a better version of myself completely polar opposite of the previous one. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to confront my fears & that’s where my journey with communities begins.

Chapter 4: A Change Of Air

IEDC-MCET (Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Centre) of my institution played a key role in whatever I’m today. They used to conduct workshops loaded with fun activities & tasks that prompt you to get the heck out of your comfort zone & build yourself as a better individual.

IEDC shaped my soft skills, public speaking, interpersonal skills, time management & so many things which you won’t learn from any Bootcamps or online courses. These are the basic skills, we’ll students lack from being a part of the factory rat-race.

I found some of the best seniors, peers & juniors for a lifetime. I finally had friends & people to talk & have fun with. For someone like me from such a background, this was a pure gem. As a participant, IEDC nourished my personality up to such an extent that I started feeling happy about life after 2+ years.

My First IEDC Executive Panel Meeting

Once I got into the Executive Panel, begins the best moments of my life ever. Primarily, working with seniors as assistants were fun days. We used to run behind them, do all kinds of chores for the events, organize them, have fun, go on trips, we were having a bang. We developed such a close relationship that It felt more like family beyond home.

This is something I seriously miss with my juniors because of a huge percentage of our working spans online due to the pandemic. We were never able to develop such a close-knit relationship as we did with our seniors. All these factors completely started remolding me as a person. The old-me was slowly getting non-existential anymore.

Alappuzha Beach — IEDC Summit’19 Trip

We went to countless trips, summits, events & had so much fun organizing, volunteering & pulling pranks on each other. The beauty of getting divided into teams, managing multiple layers of the event & getting scolded for the mistakes & showcasing love for the little things. Gosh, I miss those days so much. I miss the life as juniors working under seniors you know, those were the best days.

Soon, I left the club as I grew more as a person & got more perspectives on what matters & what doesn’t. Had fun working, but meaningful work was missing.

PSS Summit’20 — CUSAT Trip
With Bhagya, Conceptual Designs Workshop
IEDC Bootcamp’19

Chapter 5: The Awakening

Every coin has 2 sides, Similarly, every campus has pros & cons. Mine was that my campus didn’t foster an open community culture. Our IEDC operated under close-scrutiny of our management. Even though my campus has a lot of cons, I tend to embrace the positive side considering the background I came from & always reminding myself of the significance of gratitude.

Munnar Trip Candid :)

If you’re looking up to some of the top colleges of the state, It is not just that they’ve great faculties & placements, but also that they foster such an open community culture. It is such a diverse set of communities that prompt students to come together, work towards something they’re equally excited about, discover their passion, make friendships & memories, live the best moments of life along with people they love & care about.

I think this drive towards tinkering with things beyond the walls of my campus is what prompted me to get out of the box. Just because my campus doesn’t have diverse communities, doesn’t mean I’ll just accept the fact & stay idle. I at least had to try it out & that’s how I got started with LinkedIn.

I wanted to meet new people, try out new things, but I’d no idea where to look for them or get started. My campus & students also didn’t foster a beyond-college activities culture. It was kinda a secluded world in a typical nothing out-of-ordinary engineering fashioned, except for IEDC-MCET.

I started using LinkedIn in the initial months, but I’d no idea what this is & the power of the platform. I was just giving it a go until I saw LinkedIn Local Trivandrum 1.0 Meetup.

This was an opportunity for me to meet new people & experience the communities beyond my campus’s comfort zone. I’d registered & even paid the fee, but refrained from going because I was intimated with my fears with questions & assumptions that I would feel isolated because It’ll be all professionals & I’ll be the loner student within the hall, blah, blah.

Even though I missed that opportunity, yet another meetup came by in the following months & this time I was ready to confront my fears by asking myself what’s the worse that could go wrong. After the meetup, I was just flabbergasted by the intensity of the shift in perspective, mindset & experience I’d. I was nothing like I’d ever experienced in my life till then & the essence of LinkedIn Locals indeed catalyzed my growth even more.

LinkedIn Local Trivandrum — Digital Marketing Meet

I met so many new people, embraced such a diverse set of opinions, digested a lot of new learnings & grateful that I came out of my comfort zone, without which I’d have never garnered this experience.

Soon after the event, the organizers (Anish Chettan) rang me up asking If I’d like to be a part of their team, considering they’ve planned for kickstarting a student community. I couldn’t be more than excited! This was a fantastic opportunity to meet new people & experiment with new things! I immediately said yes & was geared up to get started.

Seems I’d such a lucky charm that the COVID-19 pandemic struck at the exact time, derailing all our operations to halt. I got this idea to rebrand all our existing chapters (Kochi, Trivandrum, Calicut) into LinkedIn Local Kerala, considering we were planning to expand onto other cities also.

Once the pandemic got worse, in midst of an ocean of webinars, something we’ll settle upon is to never have any webinars or such because our core theme revolves around networking & meeting new people, which you can never equal online considering whatever platform it be. We were pondering on what else can we do as a community.

With Shahan & Sara, Teammates at LinkedIn Local Kerala

We went close to dead as a community for 7+ months until we kickstarted operations once again. Now, we’re rebuilding! The main organizers decided to take a break & handed over the operations to me. Now, We’ve a solid team, a massive vision & an unparalleled determination to make the most out of the opportunity gifted to us!

Chapter 6: COVID-19 & Experimentations

The pandemic gave me ample time & space to try out different things, I fostered new habits, experimented with learning different things, nourished new habits, tried out a different lifestyle & I think this was a much-needed break.

Amidst all this trial & error was when I stumbled upon TinkerHub via YouTube. I was watching these videos of Kerala Startup Mission & MakerSpace which is when TinkerHub’s ICW Workshop video popped into my suggestions & I started watching it. Once I was done, I was high on vibe. I was so fascinated & pumped up that I literally cannot express it in words. I immediately ringed up a few of my LinkedIn contacts seeking if they knew anyone from TinkerHub I could connect with.

I connected to one of the campus leads & he redirected me to ping TinkerHub’s core team on telegram. I connected with CEO, Mehar Ikka & COO, Kurian, I expressed my interest to start a campus chapter (which never happened though, because of my campus lol) & that’s how I was added to the Campus Connect Group of TinkerHub by Anandhan, Campus Manager & RIET Chapter Lead.

Early on as I had discussions with my campus, I’d realized that I can never bring a campus chapter & was just an idle stock on the campus connect group. I wanted to get involved, but I just didn’t know-how. Months passed by & one fine day I saw the link for TinkerHub Internships & immediately applied for the role, ‘Community Manager’.

A month later, I was surprised to know I’d been selected for the role & then begins a whole new journey of massive shifts in beliefs & perspectives. As the Community Manager, one of the biggest takeaways I’ve ever had is meeting such a diverse set of students, working professionals & people who’re passionate to contribute to communities & collaborate with others uniting for a cause. The intensity of open-mindedness surprised me & changed my thoughts & beliefs very much in a nutshell.

I found new friends within the TinkerHub Fam, starting with our very own “Intern Mafia”. We were the bunch of interns who were selected into TH & we started chilling together online, even though we still haven’t seen each other even now as I write this. But there’s this close relationship you’ve with one another, the bromance because we’ll be passionate about something which brought us together — communities.

With Ankitha, TinkerHub TownHall #3

Special Mention to the best partner in crime I’d ever ask for — Ankitha, My Co-Community Manager. The best part is that we still haven’t seen each other beyond video calls, but have partnered on so many events with TownHalls & TinkerWeeks being the best of all & I haven’t yet worked with such a down-to-earth & chill teammate ever :)

Intern Mafia is a close-knit family now, with Bijoy, Nihla, Anandhan, Adithyan, Abhishek, Allen, Shwetha, Ananya, Shamil, Athira & Ashwin, I’m so happy to have made such friends for life :)

TinkerHub Trivandrum Meetup

Beyond the mafia, I’ve met so many awesome fellas across TinkerHub’s Community that the more I conversed with all these people, the more I was growing as a person. The best part is the networking sessions we have on Airmeet Lounge after TownHalls, where we’ll gather today & start making fun of each other & chill out. Those are my best days you know. The feels & vibes are real high, even though we have never even seen each other, our unified passion towards communities unites us so beautifully.

Chapter 7: Towards Possibilities

I’m a completely changed person now. If my school-version looked upon me, he’d go nuts. I’m not boasting, but I feel grateful for all the mistakes I made because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be who I’m today.

I’ve missed out on the names of a lot of people in this tale. I sincerely apologize for that, considering the scale of the story, I’d to compromise a few elements. Y’ll are in my hearts, more than any words.

This is just the beginning. I’m still on my hunt towards experimenting with possibilities & seek what fulfills me the most meanwhile contributing my fair-share into making this world an even better place, at least by 1% by being the reason behind the smile of somebody.

Candid :)

If you read it till here, I’d just like to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart. This means so much to me. I’ll be really happy to connect with you if we still haven’t met, ping me up @ Instagram! :)

Before we wrap, I’d like to share a life-lesson I’ve learned & want you to always remember:

At the end of the journey, the small moments & memories we have with people we love & care about matters the most over anything in life!

Fun-fact: It’s my birthday today & you made my day reading till here!
Thanks for this gift! :)

Farewell, Good old friend.

With Love,

Rahul.

my little corner of the internet :)