And the Orientation week at Darden comes to an end with me standing in the middle of the Thomas Jefferson’s estate at Monticello looking at the seemingly endless spread of land opening up in front of me on a marvelous Saturday afternoon. I can almost sense the roller-coaster ride that has already begun as I look at the view that should perhaps become a wallpaper for the windows desktop. It’s palpable. The feeling of “I know it’s only going to get crazier from here! I should fill in my lungs with as much calm and peace as I can. ”
The week that was, flashed by me in that cool Virginia breeze. The International orientation zoomed in a lightning strike with all the list of don’ts to avoid from being deported back to your home country. Through the laptop configurations, section allocations, zillions of professor, student and administration facilities’ introductions, walking in apprehensively into our learning team rooms to meet our learning team members (more on learning teams soon), eating too many turkey and chicken sandwiches, apples, and way to many cookies every day for lunch, being welcomed numerous times by everyone, listening to pearls of wisdom from Darden Alums who are heading businesses at the who’s who of consulting, banking, marketing, operations, technology and their own companies, trying to scribble it all in on iPhones and iPads and post-its, completely blanking out the next day about what the previous talk was about, being awestruck by the CEO of Johnson and Johnson and coming to the conclusion that he was so charismatic that he should run for president, getting a kick out of knowing that Darden alums also go on to head the Aston Martin’s sales division, bowling and drinking at the same time and knowing that you bowl way better when you drink, dancing like you have never danced before with all your future awesome friends to be at a place called Trinity, scavenging all over Charlottesville for photographs not knowing that all you actually needed was a picture streaking across the rotunda, almost losing your voice to have a conversation at the Pepsi co forum during first coffee, getting up almost every day wondering whether you should wear formals or casuals or business casuals and almost always not being sure whether what you picked falls under business casuals or casuals that can pass of as ‘businessey’, wondering how I can fit in all the stuff that happened in one sentence or one blog post; I just think of one thing that a wise professor said that stuck with me; “B” curious yet “B” you!
Clearly there is so much happening every day and there are numerous things vying for your attention at the same time. The coming weeks will only get more scheduled and regimented with a lot more things screaming for your notice. Too many websites to look up, too many new HBR articles to read, too many cases to prep for, too much to account for, too many decisions to analyze, too much to market, too much to manage and communicate, too many organizations to lead, too many new people to meet, too many parties to go to, too many apartments to crawl and way too many pubs to hop. I will want to do everything all the time and will feel like I am missing out on so much if I am doing normal things like sleeping or eating. There is so much that interests me and so much to be curious about and so much that I ‘should’ be doing. And then I wish I could simply slow down for a second here and just B.
As I was doing this, a thought struck me. How could Thomas Jefferson, a man who wrote the declaration of independence for the United States also hold captive generations of slaves on his estate? In the words of the tour guide, it was because TJ (this is what we call him lovingly at UVa!) believed in ‘self-preservation’ as much as he valued freedom.
And as I walked back through the plantations and his grave, it suddenly became evident that these two years would be a fine balancing act of being curious yet being you! And then I was glad to have the things that define who you are; be it building a desk from scratch or making art that makes you happy. So find that which keeps you sane and be curious yet be you!