As the result of the mains were announced recently, around 2500 students burst with joy. There was a sense of accomplishment and relief. Let me first congratulate them and convey my best wishes for the next round.
But, not everyone is equally lucky. Around 10 thousand failed to make the cut. Thankfully, in my 2 attempts in UPSC, I did not stop at this round. But, nonetheless, in my first attempt at UPSC CSE 2016, I failed after giving the interview. And a failure is a failure, regardless of the stage that it comes at. Therefore, yes I too have failed
31st May 2017
That was the night of 31st May 2017. I had been eagerly waiting for the results. I have always been an optimistic person. So, I used to indulge in more daydreams than anxieties. I would imagine the result coming with my name in it, somewhere in the first page itself. I would imagine the celebratory tone in which I would share my result to my parents. I would even visualize giving a toppers speech.
Yet, the night was to prove different. I was waiting for it along with my 2 other friends who were giving the interview. Finally, after opening the UPSC website and PIB no of times, the result appeared on the website. The first page appeared first. I saw the first few names and couldn’t see my name in it. A drop of sweat had already fallen. I picked up myself, saying that one does not require to be in the top 20 in the IAS. So, I browsed the next few pages. But, no, no name still. The tension was growing. By now, I had realized, I was not to become an IAS. But, I had a hope still. That somewhere in the list, my name would be there. Any service would have done at that moment. I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. But, still no. Maybe I had missed my name. That’s when I dared to do the Ctrl + F option to search my name. The computer returned a Ting sound. I tried again and again and again. Each time, the sound was the same. And that was when the lightning struck.
I had been unable to make it. It seemed as if the ground beneath me had collapsed. Whole-body started itching. The weight of my body seemed too high. On top of it, I heard a cry of ecstasy from my friend in the next door. I searched his name Ravi Prakash Meena, and there he was, with a rank that would make him an IAS. That was when the 3 idiots movie struck me. It pains when your friend does poorly, but it pains more when you do poorly and he does so well. Not that I despised his success, but more because his success seemed like everything I had lost.
It was then, that I realized the most difficult part that I still had to do. And that was to call my parents and tell about it. There is probably nothing more sorrowful in this world than breaking the heart of your loved ones. With the heaviest of hands, I dialed. My father picked up. Words failed to come out of my mouth. But, I mustered the courage and told it. He was silent for a moment. For a second, his words were irregular, perhaps waiting for me to say, its all a joke. But unfortunately, it wasn’t. He sounded slow, but then he said in Hindi ki that’s how life is. An ant does not go to the summit in the first attempt. It falls and falls again. But every time, it picks itself up, more determined than ever, until it reaches the top.
He was right, but these words meant nothing to me at that moment. And so did the calls of numerous relatives and friends, who tried consoling me. For me, these words seemed hollow. And I felt like a loser, the biggest one I had known. I was completely dejected and questioned myself, whether I can ever make it. There were not even tears, there only flowed the invisible tears of frustration and regret. Everything was lost.
I know this would sound familiar to many of you. But, my post is not just meant to empathize with you. I aspire more to do something else and focus on something deeper, which is the psychology of sadness and grief. And only when you understand that, would you be able to take the next step. No consolatory words can help you as much as you analyzing this state and overcoming it yourself.
The psychology of sadness and grief.
I have already described how it feels like. It’s depressing, that we all know. But what we fail to appreciate is that we feel sad because we want to feel sad. We are in grief because we want to to be In grief. It seems ironic, but it is true, at least to a certain extent.
Take it this way. We feel all bad and sad because our brain wants to do something, make some effort to change the situation, but is unable to do so. In this case, we can’t change the UPSC result. But, still, the brain needs to do something, so as to assure itself that it is making an effort. Therefore, we try the easier solutions. So we itch your body, we cry and we may even drink and smoke and we also feel depressed. And in a way, it feels ironically good to do all these. Because now our brain has a false assurance that we are making an effort to alleviate the pain.
But, remember this is nothing but a trap. We are indeed doing something, but we are not doing what we ought to do. Our brains have become victims of a mirage. This is because every one of us is inherently smart yet lazy. We like to do these easier things like crying, but not the more difficult solutions such as work harder and prepare better.
In trying these easier solutions, we do not take the more necessary and required steps, such as preparing in a more organized way and working on one’s negatives. I know it is easier said than done. But you will have to do it. You will have to work hard according to a plan. You will have to find your own flaws and work on them. You will have to know yourself, accept it and remedy that.
Whatever these steps may be, what is more, important is to get the attitude right, to not fall prey to the trap of easier solutions like grief and sadness. Remember, there are only 2 solutions, either to accept the result and leave it or to gear up and work hard and take the desired steps. Any other solutions such as crying or being depressed is only a mirage, a feel-good factor that helps no one.
Back to the story
Coming back to my story, in spite of what I have told you, I know it is easier said than done. That night the sadness and grief were unparalleled. My life had never felt so bad before. And I was sad. Any rational words and pieces of advice seemed hollow. That’s one reason why I am writing this after 3-4 days after the result when you gradually become more rational.
So, that night, I did one thing good. That was to make an effort from there and then itself. Half an hour after the result, I was back at my study table. I didn’t know what to read. But, I had to do something and do something constructive. I tried the textbooks, but the words seemed hollow. So, I took up a test series. Because that would give me a challenge and would engage me back. I had taken the initial step and this made a difference. Unlike many others, I helped myself avoid the trap.
It was not perfect. Over the next few months, till the time of CSE Mains 2017, there were many nights in which I would cry my way to sleep. There were many days in which I would question myself. There were still times when I felt like a looser. But, these were lesser and fewer. Every-time there was such a moment, I would tell myself about the science of grief and get back to my study table to do the more productive thing.
27th April 2018
This way, I studied, cleared prelims, mains and gave the interview. Finally came the date of 27th April 2018. I knew I had done a lot better, both in mains and in the interview since I had accepted my mistakes and worked hard on them. But still, UPSC requires an element of luck. No one can question that.
So, on 27th April, when there was enough rumor of the result coming out that day itself, I was more than just nervous. The images of last year were struck in my eyes. The feeling was not yet lost. All-day, I kept clicking at the UPSC website and following the UPSC blogs. Many people were there at the gate of the UPSC Dholpur house and every single movement there was tracked eagerly. My eyes had become tense, being at the computer and mobile screen the entire day.
Finally, around 6:30 pm, someone sent a photo from the Dholpur house of the 1st page of the result. My hands were trembling at the thought of opening it. My eyes felt too weak and blur. But, somehow I opened the photo. There were 50 names in it. I glanced it upar upar se. Rank 1 – no, rank 2 – no, rank 3 – no. Top 10 – no. Top 50 – no. Shit
It was like last year again. Even though this was just 1 page, I had resigned to a feeling of failure again.
I called my mother to join me and give me strength in seeing the result. I didn’t say her that 1 have already seen the 1st page. But, she said that “ye to 1st-page raha. Open it”. I opened it again, with the thought that I’ll disappoint her again.
But, surprisingly she shouted at the top of her voice and read out my name aloud. And it was then that I saw it. Abhijeet Sinha – All India Rank 19. It was then I realized that in nervousness I had missed reading my own name.
And then came the frenzy. My papa, mummy, uncles, brothers, all almost shouting, dancing, living it. They were all giving TV and press interviews. That day I realized another truth, there is perhaps no bigger happiness than making your loved ones happy.
But, what a difference a year had made. And probably, all was down to the attitude that I showed during the most difficult time, and in deciphering my own psychology of grief and failure.
That evening, while everyone was enjoying, I escaped to the balcony, dialed my nana Nani, and said ki “ Aapka Naati ab IAS ban Gaya hai”. On both sides, Eyes were moist, moistened with happiness.
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