“Life is not a story of success; it is the epic of continued struggle in the face of failure.”
Roughly three hundred and sixty nine days back, I had been a bundle of nerves. I had just appeared for the IIT-JEE and promised myself that I will not, absolutely not, definitely not, look at the answer key before the results came out. That promise had the shortest lifespan. By next morning I knew my score. I knew where I had lost marks (yes…it seems like you never gain enough marks in JEE) and I knew my IIT dreams were perhaps over.
Some of my friends got better marks, some got worse. But no one was satisfied. For the likes of me, we attributed it to sheer bad luck. What else could it be? When I’d devoted every waking hour to my coaching studies? For those who scored better…they were worried they might not get IIT Delhi or the course of their choice. For those who scored worse…well, AIEEE was still there.
In short, everybody had reasons to be anxious, scared and in general, nervous. Then came the most dreaded aspect: projected cut-offs. Someone put it at a meager 200 while others boldly proclaimed it to be around 250. Each time I saw a cut-off which made me an IITian I did a little dance and each time I saw myself being forced to study someplace else…I arranged a small funeral for my dreams. I’m pretty sure it happened with everyone else as well.
For those of us who had really worked hard and not got through, it was like losing focus in life. Some of us disappeared off the social radar while others were brave enough to face the world. Our ways of escaping from the stress maybe different but in the end, all of us border line cases had a little hope…that somehow we’ll make it. Hope turned into desperation and finally when we saw that “Not Qualified” on the result day…it all came to an end.
It was tough to come to terms with the fact that we will not study at IIT. But we had no choice. We sat through other exams and made it to other equally prestigious colleges. We weren’t really happy at first. We thought that we deserve more. We always envied the commerce students for having such an easy life. We called others nerds. I cannot put it in words how it felt when people feigned surprise at me not making it... and when they had a completely clueless look when I told them my college’s name.
Sometimes I really hated my college for being what it is. I disliked everything about it. But then something amazing happened: I settled in. I met girls who had stories similar to mine. I made new friends. I joined various societies. I worked hard. I got busy. I started enjoying my new life.
There were still times of serious self-questioning. Was I really not good enough? Could I have done better? Should I give it another shot? Is it worth it? Why did it happen to me? Why me? The questions were endless…after a year, I’ve found my answers. I am at peace.
Life doesn’t end at one entrance exam…it begins there. Failure makes you strong in ways you haven’t realized just yet. This holds for all those exams with cut-throat competition around the globe. Some win, some lose…those who lost will win another day J