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Stoa Digest #51: ✂ Nick It In the Bud 🪴
An ode to a true journey of a lifetime.
Warning: This one’s DEFINITELY going to be long, so you might want to clickthrough to Substack to read it.
A heartfelt note, from me to you -
The story of how I got my role at Stoa is quite a tale, and one I enjoy telling, quite a few might’ve even heard it already.
But for those of you that never got the chance to, I did note it down at one point a while ago.
Raj & Shelton were my portals to a life that was a complete gamechanger. I went from pursuing hobbies, during lockdown, to pursuing friendships.
My moment of fame - I was the title of a slide for an event once.
Disclaimer: Going to try and do as much justice to this formative journey I’ve got to partake in, with the next few paragraphs, so bear with me. Non-mention is by no means an indicator of fundamentality to the story itself.
Phase One -
Swimming with Sharks? 🦈
When I first joined Stoa, one of my first ever assignments was to organise a “Graduation Party” for our first cohort.
Fun fact: I’ve never actually had a Graduation Party of my own, from any of the "institutions” I studied in, so this was bound to be a fun one from the get-go.
I went on to throw myself into the deep-end by deciding to get on calls with every single one of the fellows of our Premier Cohort.
For the first time in a long time, I found a place so densely populated with smart, intelligent, curious and engaging minds. It was very intimidating to do this, and get on calls with them, but both parties(me and them) soon learned, that I was out for friendship.
I got more comfortable with them, as they did with me.
It was the kickstarter to me finding out that there are corners of this world, that you were now able to find digitally, that would stoke(Stoac) your curiosity just about enough to expand it.
Even if with small, but greatly incremental steps.
Phase Two -
Of Enthucutlets & Cheerleaders! 🙌🏼
Came a half-year journey I never realised would impact my life the way it did. We were a group of 77 people in one cohort, and I was now given the opportunity to expand the knowledge I had, by interacting with them within the Program.
On we went to become the +43 Club at Stoa, and there has, nor ever will be another like +43. You may try, but we were in lockdown together, so we’ve bonded very differently from the rest of you, haha!
If you ask me which my favourite cohort was, I will always say, 2, because that was the cohort I did.
It’s the one that will always be my first full dive into the whole Stoa experience.
They taught me more about Community Building, thanks to us having to rewire ourselves through a pandemic, than any other group of people could’ve ever.
Discord, up until then was like having a group chat with 70 people, and live sessions were like the times you got to see all your friends in class.
We were some of the first to be Enthucutlets and Cheerleaders just for the insanely cool things people were doing in our cohort.
This ended up then becoming a vital part of the Stoa Experience -
Finding Your Cheerleaders 🔦📣
Phase Three -
An unbeatable beast 💪🏼
Cohort 3 was a special, different and yet stronger set of human beings than Stoa had had up until now.
They took the small things Cohort 2 did, as not only hints, but also odes and ideas.
The CBC-Mafia expanded with this cohort, but not only that, they took a departure from Discord and started the first few IRL Stoa Meetups.
Not only did they kickstart meeting Stoans IRL, but they had the first, culture-forming, ritualistic, in-person meetup of any cohort ever.
Stoa In Goa
And that’s a trip none of them will ever forget, I’m sure, just like we were not allowed to. 🙈/
The roasting & the memes took over not just Discord, but also Twitter & Instagram. I might’ve just thought of a theory - I think Cohort 3 managed to tie their cohort together tighter not only by Saxena Saheb, but also largely by memes.
Phase Four -
A whole nü wave 🌊
Up until here, we had had Inaugurals - and a fairly small community, but there were some big changes coming.
With Cohort 4, in came our biggest cohort yet, and they too, took complete hints from the Enthucutlets before them, and their Enthucutlet ancestors before them too.
In came the battles for Meme of the Week, reactions being sent helter-skelter, with Zoom chats so quick with quips, that we had to start telling our facilitators to not keep up with the chat. Kardashians, who?
While Cohort 4 didn’t necessarily banter as much as Cohorts 2 & 3 before them on our public Discord channels,
there were underground lines of communications running through their cohort. Connecting different groups through overlaps, it was quite a maze & marvel to see in motion.
What they got that no other cohort has ever got since though was the 1-month workshops we did with them before their cohort started - on No-code & Writing.
It’s crazy, what small platforms of motivation, nudging and acceptance can do for a single individual.
Cohort 4 had people upskilling in varieties of ways, and it was mostly through them finding mentors within not only their cohort, but the Community, that they took over the duties laid down for Stoans from the alums before them.
Truly fascinating, a spectacle to witness.
So far it seems like I’ve mostly been bragging about each individual cohort, but these initial four cohorts changed my career & life trajectories.
They also got me many more twitter followers, which if you know me, EVEN REMOTELY, you know I hate, but we lived with it.
It’s hard, to not be proud of the Community that Stoans have created for each other. One of motivation, nudging and acceptance.
There have been countless nights I’ve taken my dogs for a walk with the Radio or the Café in my earphones, navigating a music session, just general banter or weighing in on a hectic game of Mafia.
My parents don’t understand what it is I call work, because my father legitimately had to tell me to laugh softly one early morning, because he couldn’t get to sleep.
And I told him it was because of work, so he was very, very confused to say the least.
All because I was very engrossed in a game of Codenames.
Stoa’s given me a lot to root for, in it’s people, it’s culture and it’s mission.
It’ll be hard to rid me of my Stoa badge, and even harder for me to rid myself of Stoans, because cheerleaders are usually really stubborn.
But, for the last 18 odd months or so, I wouldn’t rather have experienced the experience of life in any other way.
And on that poignant note,
This one might come as a bit of a shocker, but with this edition of the Digest,
I(Nicaia) mark my departure as the main Editor of the Digest & Community Manager at Stoa.
You’ll definitely find me around, but I might now take longer times to reply to DMs.
This image summarises it quite well:
📆 Upcoming Events 📆
This Thursday, 9th June, 8PM
Sanyukta Saha will be walking us through her ways to learn to manage our nervousness in a productive way.
In all phases of our lives, there might be something that makes us a little nervous, especially if it involves performing in some way - this might help us handle it better.
🥳 🎂Birthday Parttaaayy! 🥳 🎂
Happy Birthday to Akshay Dongre!
UPCOMING BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK
11th June - Guru Mahesh
🐝 Community Buzz 🐝
A photo essay to conclude
For this week’s Digest I’m going to highlight a couple of my favourite memories, in no particular order, but snippets of my journey.
To end with, I have a very well timed screenshot of the words of a dear friend.
🥲 Meme Wars 🥲
this week’s winner of Best Meme goes to someone I’m pleasantly surprised has shown up in the Memes channel again …………
For the last & final time, as Community Manager at Stoa, I send you this compilation of my music - it’s lyric-less mostly, so you can use it to -