“In my second year of intermediate, my economics lecturer chose to use an interesting approach to teach. She wanted us to teach the class instead of her. Being a scared, quiet and shy kid from a conservative school in Narayanguda, I was too scared to even voice my interest. A friend of mine (One of the only friends I had) had to actually suggest my name on my behalf. I sat for hours in an internet cafe and in the end, did a fantastic job during the presentation. It was the first time I had really done well at anything. I was terrified, no doubt, but it was on that day that I realized, over the sound of thundering applause, that I had a talent. I wasn’t just fit for nothing like I had thought my whole life; I had a voice and a personality that people enjoyed listening to and experiencing. Finally, after all those years, I had broken my own glass ceiling.
After intermediate, I joined IIMC, a college that gave a lot of importance to cultural events. My first year, I participated in everything and also lost in every single one. However, it gave me the experience to have a footing thereon. I spoke in debates, elocutions, theater events, conventions, anything you can think of. Over time and small victories, the university started funding me to represent them everywhere. I even got a prize from our governor, ESL Narasimhan for representing Hyderabad in a state wide debate competition. I would be lying if I said I didn’t receive a lot of criticism too. Funnily enough, all the guys that criticized me then, are really good friends of mine now.
One day, a friend of mine from my intermediate, LFJC, called to say he had an event and urgently needed a host. I went to see what I could do to help out, but ended up emceeing for eight hours that day. It felt amazing to entertain people. I fell absolutely in love with the stage. A few days later, the same friend called to ask me to do it again but said he would pay me this time. Back in 2013, it seemed absurd to me that someone would want to pay me to emcee an event for them. Through word of mouth and Facebook, I started getting more and more gigs.
This whole time I was still doing a full-time job as a tax consultant. I know right? I absolutely detested numbers.There were nights I would actually cry thinking about how aimless and joyless my life was.
Do you know that scene in the MS Dhoni movie where he walks from the platform and just goes and quits? It might be hard to believe that a scene from a movie influenced me to that degree, but first thing the next morning, I went to work and put down my papers. I wasn’t sure what my life would look like after, but I always say it’s better to take a chance and experience something, than to miss out on an opportunity and regret it later.
After this, I went on a solo trip for 30 days to Tamil Nadu and came back with a whole new array of knowledge about myself. You could call it self discovery, I suppose. I began working with TASK (Telangana Association for Skill and Knowledge) soon after. It essentially involves going to different rural districts of Telangana to train undergraduate students for campus recruitments. Spoken English, communication skills, interview skills, presentations, things like that. I’ve trained between 500 and 700 students so far and been to almost every district in Telangana. I wanted to be to others who Sailatha Ma’am was to me. I was lucky enough to have had her in my life when I did, there are probably several people that will never find someone to help them break out like I did. I want to be that person.
One piece of advice I’d like to give people is that things that are new are always going to be scary, whether it’s trekking a mountain or bungee jumping. All you need to do is make the jump.”
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