A Road Less Travelled – by Kinjal

Challenge. I find this word very interesting. Some people thrive on it; they don’t feel satisfied if they aren’t doing a task that challenges them both physically and mentally. For them, overcoming a challenge gives them a high like no other.  But then there are some people who appreciate a life that is simple, relaxed and easy-going. They don’t go about actively looking for a challenge. All they desire is a peaceful existence and I was exactly like that. If I had to make a choice between walking on a straight road and climbing up a hill, I would always opt for the straight road. Even if the hills beckoned to me with the possibility of a breath-taking view, I would shy away from it because walking on a rocky path would never be easy.

Girl with a choice near the forked road

But one day, I decided to do the unthinkable …… I walked towards the hills.

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I stood next to my fellow classmates, with my eyes shut and waited for the results to be declared with baited breath.

My school principal went to the raised podium, held the mike and said, “The results are out. The girl who has won the elections and become the Rose house captain is……..Kinjal Barchha! Congratulations!”

I heard my name and opened my eyes amidst thunderous applause. I still couldn’t believe that I had become the house captain. In fact I had never planned on becoming one. How will I manage the captaincy and studies simultaneously? Things will become too hectic. Am I up for this challenge? Thoughts like these would constantly dissuade me from standing for the house captain elections. When I voiced these concerns to my mother, she smiled at me and said, “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

These words gave me the courage and motivation to stand for the elections. All my friends congratulated me enthusiastically as I made my way to the podium to receive the sash and the badge of the Rose house captain. I gingerly touched my badge with my index finger, feeling equal parts nervous and excited. I was just 14 years old and I was given a huge responsibility.  As the house captain, it was my duty to look after my house. I had to make sure that we would outshine the other houses in every competition and that Rose house would hold the number one position this year as well.  This would be my toughest year at school because I not only had to concentrate on my studies but also fulfill my responsibilities as the house captain.  The captain-ship taught me many valuable lessons. As an office bearer, I had to dress immaculately and maintain decorum at all times because I was expected to set a shining example for the other students.

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Earlier I was soft spoken and demure. Now as a captain, I had to deal with all the Rose house students starting from the fifth standard till the tenth standard. Interacting with students made me more confident and self-assured as an individual. For every competition, be it debates, dramatics, elocution competitions or sports week, the onus was upon me to take auditions and select the best student to represent my house. Gradually I started participating in more events and this made me even more confident.

At first the responsibilities seemed overwhelming, but soon I got accustomed to the rigors of being a house captain. During my tenure, I learnt that leadership is not about wielding authority, it is about empowering people and motivating them to work to the best of their abilities.

Every competition that we won was a result of the team effort of every single house member. One of the most memorable moments during my captaincy was the time when we won the prestigious award for the best marching squad during the sports day. After painstakingly selecting the best marchers, organizing several stay backs and practising in the sweltering afternoon sun every day, our hard work had finally paid off when we won the award.

There were times when I was tempted to throw up my hands and say- I quit! The pressure to perform well, to win, was sometimes too much to handle. But then I would always remember what mom said and start over with renewed energy. I had chosen to walk on this path and I was determined to walk till the end.

Today when I look back, I feel a sense of great accomplishment. My journey was by no means an easy one, but it made me realise that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The captainship transformed me from a shy and timid girl into a confident and intrepid leader. It was the most challenging thing I had undertaken in all my 14 years but I’m glad I did it. It helped me grow as an individual and most importantly it taught me to take up a challenge and not run away from it. While straight roads are great to travel on, it often becomes boring and monotonous. At times like that, stop, take a U turn, and run for the hills! 😉

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