“Suppose you are the District Magistrate of ABC district having XYZ problem.” Must have come across this statement in Ethics paper. That’s where all this starts!
We actually start thinking of ourselves as an IAS officer. And why should we not! That’s what we are asked to do right from the time we jump into UPSC preparation – you should think and act like an officer. All this reaches the next level at interview stage. You are asked how would you solve so and so problems of your district. It is normal to think of oneself as an officer, and then give a genuine response. And then…. after days of insider-outsider information, THE PDF is released. The first thing you do is – check who is Rank 1. Searching for your own name is normally the next step 🙂 Your heart is thudding against your ribs while you look for your name. And then there is a blank for a moment…A feeling of nothingness…For some, the true agony starts a couple of days after results are declared. All this because they were asked to think of themselves as an IAS officer right from that Ethics paper. The bitter truth is…
For every 5-6 people who wish to be in that PDF, it can accommodate only two. And, that’s where the problem (momentary) starts.
The subjective nature of both Mains and Interview stage makes almost everyone feel that there is a good chance of them getting into the esteemed IAS. Given the nature of this exam, the number of candidates not making it to the list would always be more than those who make it. My friend, it is better to be prepared for this eventuality. Most of those who have made it this time around, were in a similar situation as yours some time in the past. I know it hurts more when you see all the media glare around toppers, because you had imagined yourself in that position after you walked out of interview room. They actually asked you about your plans for the day when you were about to leave the interview room. This actually made you even more optimistic.
Give your best, and be prepared for the worst!
And, it does not stop here! Remember those who flocked to you, deliberately be-friended you, and asked for your ‘strategy’ before/after your interview stage? Many of them might have disappeared now. They will return only after you clear the next Mains. Do remember them when they return, and smile at their innocence! Do not curse or harbor ill-will against anyone. That’s the way this world is, forgive them. Instead, enjoy this stage of solitariness. Yeah, it is a bliss, and actually quite rare. You will miss these days after you get into services (you will get into services, believe me!).
How you deal with these tough times will help you responsibly handle the enormous amount of power that would be at your disposal in future. Yeah, so treat this stage as a training course, rather than dubbing it as ‘struggling phase’ as many normally do.
How to deal with this stage?
- Do NOT try to analyse, now: This is not the time to analyse your performance. Snap yourself off from anything remotely associated with academics for about a week. It’s okay even if UPSC Prelims is nearing. Whatever analysis you do now is not going to yield anything tangible. It will only increase your trouble. So, forget, for the time being, that you are even a UPSC aspirant.
- After a week, analyse the NON-academic side of you: Did you waste time on arguments over debatable topics like who will win an election, reservation in govt. jobs, reduction in number of seats etc. These debates existed before you jumped into UPSC preparation, and will exist after your attempts are over. Do not ruin your career in debating.
Were you with the right person – friends, affairs, room partners, workplace etc.? Kick those people and things away from your life who sap your energy and positivity with their negative attitude.
Were you offering gyans even before clearing this exam? This exam is such that almost everyone can offer some gyan or the other, and they can be worth following actually. Focus more on your areas of improvement, rather than distributing gyans.
Were you, too, affected by start-up wave? This wave is not just confined to geography and politics. You have chosen to be a part of bureaucracy. By even thinking about launching a course, or an institute, you are rowing on two boats simultaneously. Remember, those in IAS coaching industry even make millions. After a couple of attempts, it would require effort on your part to resist that pull.
- Now come to the academics part: After the dust has settled, it is time to make an objective analysis of your pros and cons. There is a downside of hundreds of toppers’ talks available these days. Suppose, you could not make notes of your optional subject for some reason. Now, out of hundreds of these talks, you chanced upon a topper who cleared the exam without making notes. This is ‘confirmation-trap’. Such a talk ends up justifying something that is actually harmful to you (not making notes in this case).Other areas of analysis might include – did you read current affairs only at the eleventh hour? Did you prefer reading NEW sources, and not revising the old ones? Did you take note of the feedback on your answers? Did you over study GS2, and ignore ethics paper?
The above list can go on endlessly. The point is how unbiased you are in making a thorough analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. And yes, DO NOT forget your strengths while you work on your improvement areas. Just because you could not clear the final stage does not mean all your strategies were flawed. Modify your strategies, do not blindly copy the strategies of toppers.
Till you are a part of this examination process, there is no point blaming external factors like evaluation process, your background, reservation of seats, politics etc. for affecting your preparation. That’s not to say that they are not valid. It is just that pondering over them would not be beneficial to you as an aspirant.
Accept with humility that you have failed, but NEVER think of yourself as a ‘failure’. If you feel like letting things off your head and heart, feel free to drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
You are not alone in this phase of testing times!
Fight back with the energy and tempo of a fresher!
Until next time,