My Life Before Rubik’s Cube
Before stepping into the world of speedcubing and Rubik’s Cube competitions, my primary hobby was playing Football. I was extremely serious about the sport. I had joined an academy ‘FCBEscola’ to train and play professionally. The sport involved a lot of rage, at least for me. I have always been a little shy and sort of reserved, but when it comes to competing (on the field in this case), I am a very competitive person. So, my competitive side was always there whenever I had to play/train, even with my friends. There is a line between being competitive in a healthy way and being toxic competition. Well, I used to be a toxic competitor. I used to get jealous of players/friends who would play better than me. I used to be quite rageful, and that rage also got transferred to the other aspects of my life, like studies, and it started affecting my mental health, at the age of 12. I remember pushing myself way too hard, practicing all day long and tiring myself to the point my feet would hurt. Overdoing anything is not fruitful and I wasn’t aware of that at that time.
Discovering a New Hobby
After playing in the academy for a few years, I got injured while playing a match. I went to see a doctor and he suggested that I should stop playing at least for a few weeks. I was devasted, since it was my absolute number 1 thing to do. I needed another hobby, something that could make me busy and challenge myself, and the timing of Rubik’s Cube stepping into my life couldn’t have been better. The first day I went to school after the resting and recovering a little bit from the injury, I found out about Rubik’s Cube, a puzzle that I thought was impossible to solve. I saw one of my classmates solving one side of the cube, and I remember my mind being blown then and there. I borrowed the cube and tried to solve one side, and I was successful in doing so. So, I went back home and asked my dad to get me Rubik’s Cube as well, and he did the very same day. I learned how to solve it in a few days using a YouTube video tutorial and got hooked. I used to bring my cube to school every single day and solve during classes (not advised) and even in the break. It became an addiction instantly. And after a few days of discovering that Rubik’s Cubes can be solved, I found out that they can be solved in a couple of seconds and that there are competitions happening that recognize this beautiful sport. I stumbled upon a video of Mats Valk (former World Record Holder) solving the cube in just 5.55 seconds. So even though I had solved a cube, I wasn’t satisfied, as I just saw solving the cube way faster than I could, and in that exact moment, I knew I wasn’t going to stop there.
I looked up the official website of Rubik’s Cube competitions (World Cube Association) and found out that a competition is happening near my place in just a month (NCRO 2015). I looked at the list of competitors that were going to compete in that competition and saw a name with the best official time in India. It was none other than Akash Rupela, who had the 3x3 National Record then. So, I set a goal to beat him and break his record, in my very first competition. It was very ambitious goal, but I started grinding for the competition. A month later I competed and didn’t even make it to the second round. I met many new faces and also Akash, and I asked him for some tips, and he happily answered the questions I asked him. I went back home, and I was very sad I didn’t achieve my goal. I even cried a little bit, because I used to take “losing” in a very unhealthy way. This time, it was much different.
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Change of Mindset
A cubing competition provided a very different environment, a friendly one. It was new to me, since in my academy, everyone used to be extremely competitive. I decided that I will keep on grinding for the next comp. Now I was getting competitive again, but in a very different way than I used to be. I felt more focused and not rageful, not jealous. Akash had become my idol (he still is to this day), and I took inspiration from him when I met him. I started attending more competitions, and met many more speedcubers all over the world who were all friendly and supportive. Slowly, my mindset started changing towards competitions. I made friends who were also my rivals but NOT enemies. They pushed me to get better and reach the top. And this change of mindset ultimately led to my growth. I started breaking records and also became the fastest 3x3 Rubik’s Cube solver in India at that time, which was my goal the day I picked it up. The results of the competitions weren’t always in my favor, but how I started dealing with losing changed entirely. In my Speedcubing journey, I still have had a lot of moments where I got a little jealous, but it never turned into something like hatred.
If I hadn’t entered the world of speedcubing, I wouldn’t know anything about how important it is to be respectful and humble. I never would’ve formed the relationship I have with the entire cubing community and people from all over the world. I am forever grateful to be a part of this amazing and kind community, which has transformed me and my mindset completely in just a few years. If I hadn’t picked up a Rubik’s Cube on the day I did, I would never grow from the person I was.
Aryan Chhabra is the current 3x3 (single) National Record holder Delhi and the first sub 5 of India. His cubing journey started at the age of 13 and now he has 6 years of cubing experience. He loves music, bodybuilding, and football. He has participated in 46 competitions in 3 countries and won 117 podiums with 56 Gold medals and 6 National Records. He also represented India in Red Bull Rubik's Cube World Cup in 2020 and 2021. He also has a World Ranking of 33 in 3x3 Single.