ICP closures, electives, final interviews, job searches and salary negotiations. Last suppers, brunches, walks by the lake, last coffees in the Bignami cafeteria, and last beers at White Horse bar. These are all the known milestones that characterize our final days at IMD. The part that isn’t spoken about as much, primarily because it is so hard to do, is the elephant in the room – the process of saying goodbye.
A group of 104 starry eyed dreamers walked into IMD on January 6. The common thread across all those dreams was a commitment to find a better version of ourselves, hopefully by the end of this program. We were convinced of our abilities, clear (or not so much) about our goals, and optimistic about how the program would enhance our individual value-propositions. With all this “clarity”, we flung ourselves into the future, not knowing where we would land.
This comfort with uncertainty, while in some ways a choice, bears its true fruit in the form of the resilience that we have all built-up over this year. This was instrumental in getting through the more stressful periods of the program, when every time we fell, we got up, and had others around us to support us and push us on. However, most of the growth we have gone through during the program is largely invisible at this time, and this adds to the mixed feelings that we are all experiencing.
This is when we realize that this year at IMD is not a discrete event in our lives, rather it is the continuation and furthering of a process of individual growth. The wisdom of prior years becomes especially relevant at this time, which describes this year as the planting of a seed. This investment will bear fruit for the rest of our lives, and will age like wine. The year has been largely eye-opening and humbling in several aspects. Our beliefs, values and understanding of the world and ourselves have been challenged and shaken. This will be followed by a period of reflection and settling, and what is exciting is that with highly increased self-awareness, we are in full control of how this settling process unfolds.
Each person’s year has been unique. Over the year, we have found our “secure bases”, and have built relationships that blossomed from colleagues to friends, to friends like family. Unknowingly, we lived inside this safe IMD bubble, and are now coming to the realization that as we move on to the next phases of our lives, we will not be surrounded by the people who have witnessed this formative year. This is exciting and scary at the same time.
I surveyed some of my batchmates for their feelings at this stage, and what consistently came out was a bittersweet feeling. One of my friends used the phrase “a weird mix of emptiness and fullness”. Our families have started arriving in Lausanne to join us for the much awaited graduation. We finally have a chance to show them different aspects of where we spent this last year, and we feel a strong sense of pride. At the same time, we feel that the year went by like a storm, we built great relationships, but we wish we had more time together to build a bigger pool of shared memories.
Last night, some of us were invited by the visiting family of one of our batchmates for a delicious Filipino dinner at home. His father led us in prayer before the meal. His words were great closing thoughts to end this fantastic year. “It was a delight to watch you find a family away from home, and we hope that your friendships stay strong and mature as you continue forward on your individual journeys”.