As Boston College students, it can be tempting to hide our true selves. Embracing our individuality can help us to understand ourselves and experience the world around us as genuinely as possible. Authentic Eagles is a series that gives a voice to the people who have experienced firsthand the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being one’s authentic self at BC. We hope that readers are inspired to have conversations and reflections of their own, working toward being more authentic individuals.
Gaurav Majmudar, MCAS '16
I remember holding my dad’s hand as we walked to my first day at daycare. When we entered the classroom, I noticed a video of the 1968 Batman Series playing on the television for all the kids to watch. I saw Batman for the first time, black suit, Batmobile, and all. From that moment on, I loved Batman.
Batman is an interesting character because Bruce Wayne uses what he fears most—bats—to motivate him to do good in the world, despite any obstacles that may arise. I thought this mindset was such an amazing way to combat anything in life: if a person can manage to take his weaknesses and turn them into strengths, nothing is impossible. I took on that mentality as a kid, sometimes too literally. Although I was young, I knew there were two paths to choose between in moments of fear: the one where fear takes over and panic ensues or the one where it drives a person to push further and ultimately achieve success.
My father left India and a decent job at age 24 to marry my mother. His parents were not too fond of this decision, and unfortunately, it has resulted in my father’s strained relationship with his family over the last 20 years. He loved his parents dearly, but after both of their deaths (they both passed away before the age of 70), he did not choose to keep in contact with his sisters or cousins. Growing up, as I become close to all my cousins and my grandparents on my mother’s side, I would often question why I never saw my dad’s family or why I never talked to them on the phone.
In India, my father was told to find a well-paying job rather than to follow his dreams. He moved to America to pursue what made him happy, but he found that getting a job, acclimating to the “American lifestyle,” and financing himself and his family posed challenges.
It wasn’t until high school that I realized my father pushed me so hard because he saw me as the last link for himself in his family. I was his hope, his star, and his legacy. He wanted me to accomplish things that his father did not push him to do and achieve. I could not disappoint my father; I couldn't let him down. He had sacrificed way too much and worked way too hard for me and my mom.
The fear of failing my dad was a problem I dealt with all throughout high school. Sometimes I did my homework, joined clubs, and was a “star student” not because I wanted to, but because I felt the need to do so for my parents. Frankly, I hated when anyone talked down to me because my dad had been talked down his entire life. I could not fail my father by settling or letting someone tell me what to do. I had to make decisions that would lead to success, and if that meant running over others, or pushing them aside, I would do it.
Once I came to BC, I pursued success too aggressively. I hated when people called me out for mistakes or said I was too serious. After all, everything at BC is competitive. I felt like I had to be better than the competition. Unfortunately, this took a toll on my relationships. I judged others and didn’t take time for myself to relax. I could often be heard saying phrases such as these to those who I considered my friends:
“Get out of my way.”
“Stop acting like an idiot.”
“Leave me alone. I need to finish this.”
At one point junior year, a friend was jokingly talking about my aggressiveness. I started yelling at him and told him to get off my case before I blew up. Then, something incredible happened. He came up to me and said “Bro, why are you so mad all the time? There is no reason to try to be better than everyone at everything.” That really got to me. I started crying. And by crying, I mean bawling. I told him about how my dad has dealt with disappointment all his life and how I do not want to fail him.
This one moment of catharsis helped me change my attitude for the better. My friend said, “Your father loves you no matter what you do in life. Just because he wasn’t treated well growing up doesn’t mean that the same has happened to you. You have to take your father’s experiences and make sure you understand that he wants what is best for you. He wants you to make your own decisions, and he will be proud of them no matter what you choose. You just have to deepen your relationship with him and not be afraid of your relationships with other people.”
I was trying to take over the world because I thought it was going to make my father proud. But in reality, I needed to accept my father's support and use it as motivation for me to do what what makes me happy. I didn’t have to run over others or ignore my friends because of my drive to succeed. I just had to believe in myself and know I have my father’s support along the way. My parents have made sacrifices, but I’m not going let those sacrifices hold me back from chasing my dreams. After all, they made those sacrifices so that I could even have the opportunity to make my own decisions. The real disappointment would be letting my happiness suffer in an attempt to make them proud.
Bruce Wayne said, “It is not what I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” I should not complicate my future with fear, but instead take progressive steps to become a better person. There will be more times where I will feel vulnerable and feel like I am destined for failure. But, as long as I can look at the world with confidence in myself, nothing can stop me from being happy and successful. I used to think about the two paths that one could choose in the face of fear. In reality, there are many paths that can steer the course of life into many directions, but as long as any path is taken with positive assurance, there is no wrong one.