Sunday, April 20, 2008

Struggle Story- Part II

When I called him up, he could make out from my voice that something was terribly wrong. The first thing he asked me was whether I had a breakup. Obviously not! I had learnt that part of lessons of life already and I wasn’t going to call anyone if, God forbid, I had to go through one, again. Then I said “you know I have dropped a year. That’s the problem.” And the first thing he said was “So what?” That did the trick. For the first time I was able to look at the whole thing with that ‘so what’ sorta feeling. It was different. It shrank the seemingly insurmountable Herculean task to the measure of a molehill. It felt good. I asked him about the details of what and how he studied when he was preparing for JEE. And all that he said after that is videotaped into my memory. I remember every word that he spoke after that. Sometimes it takes somebody else to make you see the obvious. After talking to him (45 minutes 33 seconds) I was like “ Oh my God! I already knew it. Had I really been this stupid not to see this?” He had advised me to leave Narayana and do self study and honestly speaking, deep down that’s exactly what I wanted too. This was the only point where I had failed to recognize my instincts- why I hated everything about Narayana. This was it. I had the realization. By then, it was November end. That day I was so happy, I just knew it that now everything is going to be great.I am going to make it because now my life is in my own hands. I went and bought Morrison n Boyd that day itself. I went to see Om Shanti Om and the dialogue “jab kisi cheez ko dil se chaho to poori kayanat usse tumhe milwane mein jut jati hai.” I felt it was made for me. I studied like crazy people for the following week and then went to give my phase 3 paper. I got 1st rank in Maths, 2nd in Physics and 3rd in Chemistry. Suddenly beating all those seemingly invincible guys of my class seemed like a cakewalk. This was a direct indication from God that I was on the right track. Now getting first rank in the institute felt nothing to me, I had to evolve and look beyond. I still had to overcome my fear of all India test series papers where the competition would be out in the open. I had got 2300 something rank in my first paper of AITS. I had to do something about it.

Throughout December and January, I overdid what I thought I would. I completed the course once by mid January and I was in awe! My AITS rank in January was miraculously 856. It was amazing. It isn’t a great rank but to me it meant a lot of progress. But I was still scared of giving papers. Everything can’t go great all the time. I was still AITS phobic. It happened once that I ran away from the institute when I went to give the paper. This chickening out made me extremely exasperated with myself that eventually it turned out it was the last time I was afraid of tests. I vowed I will not fear giving tests, even if I screw them all. Then I started arranging for tests even beyond Narayana and I went to VMC and paid them 1500 bucks just to get papers from them. They would courier me the whole test series and I used to give those tests at home, timing myself. I simply had to build up a good examination temperament because that was one thing I seriously lacked. My state of mind was very funny while giving paper. I could solve questions while practicing but while giving the paper I used to have a mental blackout. So throughout February my main focus was giving a lot of papers. My initial score was a meager 30 to 40%. But I knew it that I have to keep doing this at least to overcome my last fear. And I did. By the mid of March, giving papers was no big deal for me. I felt confident, I felt focused and above all I felt evolved. Now getting up at 6.30 am and sleeping at 11.30 pm was a regular routine. I had completely stopped visiting the net, or using my cell phone or watching TV or even communicating with people but it dint seem a big deal anymore. Even while I took breaks I wasn’t even tempted to open the TV or computer. All I did was go on the terrace and talk endlessly with myself. Within 3 weeks it was all going to be over and I was getting nostalgic. Just then I got a message from my sir that said my AIR this time was 127. I had tears in my eyes! Was my devotion, madness really giving results? It gave me that much needed last minute boost to my confidence. I was going to take on the JEE paper with ‘the strategy of a general and the daring of a skydiver’ the way I always planned and hoped to. I was really going to miss this phase of my life. I was going to miss talking to the birds and the plants, spending hours together with myself. I was now a new person. I was at peace with myself. Because I did what I wanted, the way I wanted and discovered many things about myself. Now I know that life is always a ‘do-it-yourself’ thing. I am not that kind of a person who will ever be content listening to others and following them blindly. I will take my decisions myself even if they prove to be disastrous. It was exactly the same reason why I could never remain in a place like Narayana. They used to tell me just to do the package and I would be through. It was funny. I was simply sick of depending upon them. No matter how many people tell me otherwise, I am always going to believe in the story of Eklavya- he who had no Guru to teach him, learnt things on his own all alone and became a much better ‘dhanurdhar’ than Arjun who had a Guru. I believe in that. I now do not care about what rank I get, all I know is that I have the capability to make my own life. I will get what I want from my life either with or without the IIT B.Tech degree. I have acquired the ability to rise from the ashes and make a life out of nothing. I am confident as ever to take on all the challenges that life throws at me and this time there is no such thing as fear to stop me.

By the way, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost……. ;-)

Struggle Story - Part I

“Life is an unusual teacher. It gives the test before it teaches the lesson.” I had read it somewhere a long time ago. But now I can actually understand how apt this aphorism is. Somewhere deep down I wish I had known these lessons since the start but I guess I was destined to learn them the hard way. However I have seriously no regrets, whatsoever.

Now when I look back I am surprised at the daring decisions I took; I never knew I could be so brave. I never knew the extent of my mental strength until a few months back. Like I didn’t take admission in any engineering college despite getting ranks everywhere(except IIT), I dropped out of the best college of DU and ended up as a dropper. There was no logic; just plain simple instinct. I have followed my instinct whenever I was confused about what to do next.Right now I have no clue how well it has worked but it has surely worked wonders for my self-worth. I have this great feeling of contentment for living my life my way, taking my own decisions and the even messing up things the way I wanted to. Not many people get the chance to do that and then curse others throughout their life for what their statte is because of others. I believe that I’m plain simple lucky. Another amazing thing about the past year is the fact that I have spent hours together, days together alone with myself, talking to the wall hangings, taking long walks on the ‘hawamahal’ terrace and discussing my plans with the sky, the birds and the plants. I was so much engrossed into myself that I had lost touch with the world and I guess it was a wonderful period of time to discover a new me. This was a period of complete isolation, and I knew it deep down that I will never get this chance again. I mean how many minutes in a day do you think about yourself and just you? In our busy life we need a cell phone or a TV or the computer all the time to be constantly in touch with the world. Even when we sit alone we think about other people and other things. I knew it that this was my only chance to find out what I am actually made of. This one year would either completely make or break my career. But now at the end of it I am a new evolved me and the whole journey is so priceless that I actually don’t bother about the outcome of it. The journey itself has given me so much that the end result cannot make much of a difference to my contentment and happiness (although it surely can prove to be the icing on the cake !).

I am not fooling anyone. Yes it was tough. At least initially I found it unbearable. Going to Narayana, sitting in the class, looking at the same faces, the journey in the van-‘hate’ is a very mild word; I simply abhorred it! I was prone to going into depression any moment by the time it was October. I was simply clueless where to go and what to do. I just wanted to run away from this life. But something inside me constantly told me- “You just cannot wimp out Manee! You have been a fighter and you always will be.” It was the question of my self respect in my own eyes. I just had to stick it out, and I’m glad I did.

The most difficult part was recognizing the problem. I just could not figure why exactly I am not able to perform the way I expect myself to. After the first phase got over at Narayana, I had got the 8th rank. My Maths sir said “good” to hear my rank, and I felt it like a slap on my face. To me it seemed that he considered it a big deal that I could manage to get that 8th rank. I hated the fact. I wanted the first rank and nothing lesser. I was disappointed but soon I forgot about it. After that I began my study with a renewed vigour coupled with anger over my earlier laid back attitude. But slowly I was drifting to sorrier ranks and it made me more frustrated to find that the more I studied, the worse rank I got. By then I was so frustrated that I had lost the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. It was November and I inwardly cursed myself for not listening to others and taking admission this year itself. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. Until one day it struck me that I should call my friend Nitin and ask him about his drop year. It was my instinct that I should do this. Suddenly I had a surge of happiness and hope just by having this idea in my mind. That was the turning point.