An Open Letter to Friends who did not Clear the Mains – by Poonam Dahiya IRS

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The declaration of Mains result becomes a cause of celebration for some and ironically it is also the reason behind tears, hurt and pain for all those who are not so lucky this time.

It painful, even if you are not writing the exam, because our friends and near and dear ones are.

poona dahiya coping with mains failure

I am writing this to you all only.I may not be able to fully know what you all are feeling at this moment of time but I can somehow relate to you, your failure – which is only temporary unless you accept it that way , your sadness n your doubts about not only your abilities but also yourself.

Because I have travelled the same path. Not once, but umpteen times.

At this point of time, you – like everyone else – and like myself a year back –  must be thinking as if the whole world has come down. This is normal.

You are full of doubts about yourself, your abilities, your past successes and achievements.

I have one thing to tell you – Do not you fall in this trap of Negativity and Self Mortification.

It’s easier said than done. Its difficult too. Which is why most people will give in. To the negativity. And will succumb.

Because that’s easy to do.

The tougher thing to do is to fight it out. And win.

This one exam is no parameter to devalue yourself and your inherent abilities.

All you need to do is re-discover yourself in this hour of darkness. Discover your strength and try to maintain a positive attitude.

No one, No bad results should be able to weaken your resolve.

If you feel Civil Services is your ultimate aim then  – don’t get bogged down from your failures.

Make your resolve stronger. Remember when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

If you still have attempts,  try to do an honest introspection, try to analyze  where, what went wrong – learn from your mistakes – and try to rectify them.

And if you did not make it – remember – Life is much more than all these success and failures. All you need to do is to look at bigger picture of life.

Because at this juncture, you have no idea what life has in store for you.

Stay positive n hopeful about life. And this has as much truth in it as it is preachy.

You must be wondering that how easy is for me to preach all this but as I look back my own journey, I can relate totally both to your pain, doubts and equally to what I am saying right now.

Because unlike you, I have the benefit of hindsight. What is called looking through the rear view mirror of life.

My story is as average as anyone else’s. Made up of some successes, some failures. A lot of pain at times and little joys.

But altogether a learning which I cherish now more than anything.And thats what I want to convey to you.

I was always a good student coming either Ist or IInd in the classes till X th.

And as the fascination of our people with Science, I too took Science after X th(though till now I wonder why the hell so much craze for Science)

But I had no particular interest in science or having that scientific pursuit or bent of mind. I did clear my XII th with good percentage, but there was total lack of clarity about the basics.

All I could do was rote memorization which fetched me marks and thus despite best efforts I could not qualify the top most examinations of both Medical n non-medical though I did get into normal Engineering college.

And as I am writing this article right now I can clearly see in hindsight the girl who could not qualify any major competitive Engineering or Medical exam and her state of mind that very day when almost all hopeful results had come and she could not succeed in any crucial one.

She was upset, sad, doubtful about her, her abilities and was just thinking that her whole life is ruined. There’s nothing left in it.

Not clearing any MBBS or IIT JEE would mean she would never be happy

She is just no match for the competitive world. She is a waste and what not.

But as I look back now I somehow feel it was good that I never qualified these entrance exams since I could not have done justice to my jobs had I been a Engineer or Doctor.

I would never have been a good Engineer or Doctor as my heart was not in it, only my mind was and that is just not enough.

So somehow those failures were a kind of divine intervention or blessing in disguise to let me know that may be I am meant for better things if not these.

Anyways after having my first bitter taste in failure, I somehow did my graduation, wrote some other exams, cleared almost many of them including State Civil Services n then as like many of you, decided to compete for one of the most challenging exam of our time…yes UPSC…

I still remember my first attempt…when I was only trying to somehow clear Prelims and I focused all my energy over it n it did cost me my mains score.

I cleared both prelims and mains but somehow attain only just above cut off marks for mains and thus despite good marks in Interview I could land up only in Railways.

This success or failure (depends on how you see it ) made me more yearned for UPSC and gave me a confidence that I can clear it and I wrote it with full dedication, hardwork but as luck would have it, I again got Railways and I was totally disheartened.

I pushed all my limits for my Second attempt but ultimately I could not move an inch forward….The day of result I just felt numb…no feeling…nothing….For the last two years I had kept everything on hold for UPSC but still I was so much far from my dream of being IAS.

My whole world was upside down. but still I was having hope that in my last attempt(why last? Since I belong to General category and had started very late @ the age of 28 for UPSC) I wud surely achieve my goal…but I failed in my Prelims only and I was just blank…totally blank…3 years of my life all went in vain….waste…..I still feel d blankness of that day..that moment when i was clueless as what to do now….I still have no words for my feelings of that day.

Initially it was numbness but gradually as d days progressed it changed into pain, hurt, disbelief, sadness, hopelessness n what not.

I actually went into depression. I totally shunned myself out of the UPSC world.

I hated Hindu

I stopped looking at newspaper, specially hated that Hindu. I stopped interacting with everybody around as I felt any ring on my phone was about discussion about the result….I felt worthless at that point of time as I could not enter the elite club of IAS,IPS,IRS.

I felt my whole life is just wasted…..I mourned my loss for another two years …yes for around 700 precious days of my life….as I look back now,

I feel how stupid I was, that I made this exam such an determiner for me n my life… hurts when you try and don’t succeed but that hurt should not linger on for more than a day or most a week…

Now, I realise that no failure or success should outshine the life itself…Life..such a precious gift we have…n yet we just never realise its worth…We never realise that may be we are meant for other better things coz der is definitely no dearth of goodness or other beautiful ventures….It took me almost five years to realise that no damn exam is even comparable to this beauty of life…Success is beautiful but so is failure too…

One need to understand that doing the best efforts is in our all we cannot be sure n should not even try to be sure…For 3 years I kept everything on hold for UPSC but got nowhere near my dreams… what..where went wrong?

I have stopped analysing coz i have realised that its definitely not worth the trouble…

You may wonder that ‘may be grapes are sour’ that’s why I am saying this now or due to my failure to achieve my dream, I m putting forward this philosophy but let me share with you the last chapter of my journey n then you may pass on the judgment.

I got an additional attempt in CSE 2015 and despite all odds I cleared it n got a service much of my choice….but dis time one thing was surely different.

I had the insight that this is JUST AN EXAM n nothing MORE….I’ll tried to give my best n left the rest on Almighty…No worries n No Anxiety….Had I not been selected dis year too.. I was pretty sure of only this thing that d result is not in my hands… my efforts are… n I won’t compromise on that….rest whatever be the result…it is just a small part of my bigger journey called Life…..n I’ll enjoy every bit of it……no matter if I fail or succeed…n same I urge you guys to do….

It’s ok to fail… It’s ok to be in pain as they are equally d part of us as success and joy are…You don’t have to be an IAS/IPS/IRS  to prove your mettle and worth or for that matter to do anything good…

You need to only have your basics right – that is-   be a good human being and try to do good whatever way you can…tats all matter….

I know a lot of talented rather super intelligent people who could not make to the services and also I know certain people who are in services just by luck….so ….don’t underestimate yourself against others… anybody who has given this attempt knows that UPSC is more of an unpredictable Exam …there’s so much subjectivity involved in it at different stages. It’s good if u crack it but it is not that bad wen u r not able to…. try to look at the other avenues too.

Nobody knows where one can find happiness n satisfaction….Hope you find yours….

दिल ना-उम्मीद तो नहीं

नाकाम ही तो है

लम्बी है ग़म की शाम

मगर शाम तो है |

–  Poonam Dahiya

Poonam Dalal Dahiya is the author of bestselling UPSC Book on Ancient and Medieval India by Tata McGraw Hill for UPSC Examination. She has served as Additional Supritendent of Police, Haryana before she joined he Indian Revenue Service as Assistant Commissioner
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