The friendly instructor’s voice rang through the classroom. Making light of the situation, he said the concept wasn’t really a big deal.
Maybe it wasn’t, but I wasn’t in the classroom anyway. It had been 120 minutes of constant instruction, and after the first 60 odd minutes, my mind had left for cooler climes.
It was a numerical ability (or whatever it is called) class. Bottom line, it was a math class. I wondered why this would be relevant.
2010, a coaching centre, in Kolkata. The livid instructor gesticulated wildly, screaming into the air, something about “being sharp”, all the time and optimum performance, to the whole class. I could only concentrate on trying not go deaf and avoid the spit-bombs being launched.
The year was 2010, and I had upped the “serious” quotient, opting to sit in the front to try and focus harder. It was my last year in college, and I had to crack this exam, come what may.
When I finally convinced myself to light the fires under my dormant self, there were only a few months left for the exam. The numbers were flying around my head like birds, and the language section seemed like the second most exciting thing to an old, printed railway timetable.
The reasoning was senseless. I, for one, never figured out if six people sat opposite each other, and were somehow related, why would their family dynamics bother anyone but them?
The other concepts were equally strange.
Finally, the exam came, and I wrote it, scoring between a 60 and a 70 percentile. I didn’t see a foreseeable future with that measly score. I remember feeling incredibly guilty for funding Mr Friendly Instructor’s and Herr Fuhrer’s sweat-shops, especially since I had failed to squeeze benefits from them.
I realised this just wasn’t my path. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so beat up about it anymore. It was like dropping a massive weight. But there’s always a lingering sense of doubt that stays and pops itself up before every decision made later. However, in the long run, I did end up where I wanted to be, through a meandering path.
Self-doubt is a crippling barrier, one that raises its ugly head in many ways. Each and every decision, is over-analysed constantly.
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The key is to dispel the doubt, in what best way you can.
Acing the CAT exam allegedly opens doors, cements the way for a brilliant career ahead in management and related corporate spheres.
You could be making money as if it grew on trees, allegedly, and be successful, tycoon-ish. You could stay in 7-stars during important World Marketing Conferences. You could pick up miscellaneous awards to adorn your shelves, have an unlimited credit card and go on to be settled and be “successful” – that elusive parameter accessed only by the privileged few, who have the right mix of luck, hard work, intelligence and circumstances.
If you, however, don’t, you might turn your attention towards whether belling the CAT is what you really want. There are many arguments towards which is the best career path for a certain individual, but sometimes that individual becomes a representative of millions.
I did want to admit to myself, that I was not pursuing my strengths. Not being honest with yourself is a fatal error, one to be avoided entirely.
There are 20 students who scored a perfect score this year. That will only increase as time goes by. What about the rest?
The CAT, by all means, is a great exam. But whether you’d like to tread that path is something you need to decide for yourself.
Aligning to a particular school of thought, because it is endorsed and certified, isn’t what makes an individual. Making an informed choice, to ascertain what you love, and fully pursuing that and that alone, does.
Trying to fit into a square hole, when you are a round peg, is a big mistake. It causes self-confidence to drop, and creates barriers to achieving what you really want.
Thousands of students every year pit all their energies, time and money into this seemingly insurmountable exam, the halo of entrance tests, and the stairway to the hallowed halls of the IIMs.
Where, though you will have Chetan Bhagat on your alumni list, it will be a ‘great experience’.
However, if the exam doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean all is lost! Maybe, you do need to get burnt to find out what you’re truly made of?