Teamwork has always come easily to me because the people around me typically decide to appoint me the leader. However, my life changed the summer of my sophomore year, and this facade became skewed as I got acquainted with the real world of teamwork amidst another alpha male complex as strong and demanding as my own.
The summer of my sophomore year, I attended a robotics camp that the University of Texas at Arlington hosted because of my interest in engineering. The camp challenged us by presenting us with the task of building and coding a robot that could successfully move independently, pick up cargo, and move it to a safe area. I still remember the cold, awkward stares as I entered the room on the first day. Besides the name tags that we were forced to wear, I felt naked. Vulnerable. The awkward tension settled over the room after the first forty-five minutes or so, but there would never be any consolation for those first few moments of “Hi, I’m..” and “Where are you from?” Because of our collective awkward presence, the counselors paired us up at random in an attempt to force friendships. They partnered me with Rishi Jariwala, a seemingly normal and harmless boy about my age. He stood at about five foot eight, deep set eyes, and confident posture. His intelligence and his confidence radiated off of him in an unavoidable way, and because of these distinct features, Rishi assumed leadership. We initially worked very well together despite our fundamental differences. For example, Rishi practiced Hinduism, while I possessed no religious affiliation. Rishi preferred imparting his dominance and arrogance in contrast to my respectful passivity, and this ended up causing a plethora of problems down the road. The amount of
Rishi and I began to work on building and coding the robot, but we decided to first divvy up the work in order to maximize work efficiency. Building has never been one of my strong suits, while it had always come naturally to Rishi, And on the flip side, coding has never come very easily to Rishi, while it has always been a very natural thing for me. Rishi and I decided that boundaries come with this division of work, and we agreed to allow the other to do their job.However, Rishi began to slowly overstep these boundaries, and he eventually attempted to commandeer the entire project on his own.
Rishi’s attempt at a one-man mutiny set a lot of issues that he had with me on the table. He blamed me for most of our group’s shortcomings, and I did possess partial responsibility. Some problems stemmed from my incapability to do certain things, but I always did my best to correct these. My issue lie not in the fact that I could not do certain things certain ways but rather in the deliverance of the message. Diplomacy fell into the category of things that Rishi did not care about. The transition from clandestine malcontent to egregious disrespect shocked me because of the rapid escalation of Rishi’s boldness. He went from dropping subtle hints of dislike to openly blaming my “white, suburban childhood” for my “stupendous idiocy.” This unwarranted hatred bothered and frustrated me, and it made attempting to handle the situation very difficult. The veins in my head wanted to explode. The release of my stress was impossible because Rishi refused to see my side of things, but I tried for the sake of my own sanity. If only trying would suffice. The project failed.
This experience opened my eyes to the confusing nature of the world, and I still ponder what I did to make Rishi so upset with me. Although the camp had an initial negative effect on me, it ended up changing the landscape of how I think and feel for the better. I now possess the skills necessary to handle people who have a predisposition of dislike towards me, and this skill helps me in my everyday life. I now appreciate those whom I do agree with, and I also now have a newfound patience for those whom I do not agree with because of my shelling that came from Rishi’s harsh intensity.