The Sense of a New Beginning
For most, You don’t know me and I don’t know you. Isn’t it just beyond brilliant, starting off as strangers? :)
Because, I write this series as a prayer of gratitude to those absolute strangers who were lighthouses, who appeared every time I was just almost about to let go, pointing at a way, due to whom I sometimes found my shore when I was lost. I owe it to myself to offer the same for anyone who may find some sense in this.
When I began, I started perhaps exactly how every aspirant began. Scribbling on my wall among a million quotes that kept me company while I sat up sailing through History and Constitution and the ocean of the syllabus until four in the morning, dreaming to be a diplomat someday, I stuck this on a post it card on the wall-
“One does not discover new lands, without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time”.
A very long time is a subjective word.
But, on retrospect, the bliss of having a decade long dream come true and the Sense of a New Beginning offering a scope to do meaningful, purposeful work in the future, is completely worth what almost kept me awake every single night until dawn for more than three years. Time ahead would be a fairer judge though.
What perhaps awaits me is just an incomprehensible dance of hope, lingering in the thin air, like dandelion seeds; It quite doesn’t matter how long it weaves its path in the air flirting with the wind through the winters and springs. The seeds eventually will embrace the earth and in the first shower of rain, giggles at its own birth into another life. I am soaked in gratitude for the People who stood behind me at different phases, And the patience and perseverance I had to cultivate, to become a dandelion seed, that is completely compliant to the long wait into a new life, accepting my own utter insignificance in the larger portrait of things. This, I believe is the most important part that helps set the right mindset for this journey:
Being prepared to continue working hard, all the while at the surface no-one else sees any movement. Being patient to consistently keep waking up and fighting the same demons every night, for a far away dream no one can see, but you. Being humble to never over estimate yourself, also refusing to under estimate the exam.
I will now cut the pep talk nonsense that once filled my apartment wall, because end of the day, true motivation comes from within. I wish you all the best in finding the right motivations within yourself.
Many processes like these demand the slow evolution of a person, Many journeys can craft you over time. UPSC is just an examination that may or may not do this depending on how you perceive it. Hence, I will refuse to glorify this exam above any other tough process in life, keeping apart the brilliant opportunity it offers in the end to spend a life in public service.
But, the process of preparing for it over a long period like this, just like anything else that takes consistent effort over half a decade, offers in the process, an opportunity to make ourselves better over time. This choice is merely optional and yours to make. But, having a full-time career at a workplace that I liked and twenty four hours seldom enough for dreaming too big, the only way for me was to enjoy and dissolve completely into the process- Believing that perfection in the process leads to perfection in the product. And that, perfection is never an accident, at every phase of this examination.
Hence, I will spend no time in detailing the thousands of hours of study, analysis, preparation and thinking that this demands investing. A sincere aspirant must already know that bit and this is only an attempt to list down what helps, provided you are willing to invest a 100% of yours, without giving excuses to yourself.
I believe that, When you are doing a sprint, When you have to run really fast, the thought of the finish line will keep you going, because you only have to keep going for so long.
But, When it is a marathon, When you have to run really really far, the best way to live through the self inflicted agony is to focus on only the present step and the next and the next and never to think of the finish line. Similarly, the best way to go about this process is to break it down into simpler pieces and to perfect each step over time, one by one, throughout the three steps- The prelims, the mains and the personality test.
I write this series, since it is difficult to summarize a marathon over the hundreds of messages and queries I get over Messenger or Whatsapp asking for what worked in favor for me this attempt. And incomplete information of any kind I offer can harm an aspirant, even if I try my best to reply specifically to each of the questions I get.
Hence, I will try to break down my articles into the following parts, since these are the questions that most flood my inbox these days:
- My timeline : UPSC preparation
- My long tryst with prelims and My first lessons on dealing with Failure
- My strategy for English literature Optional
- My strategy for answer writing for General Studies
- My methods for time management for UPSC preps along with a career: Investing time in myself
- A mindset that brings the best for you, for the Personality test
- My Interview/ PT Transcript
- My general suggestions to civil service aspirants
- My takeaways from the Civil service preparation process
I will attach details to each one and Post it here whenever I get time.
If you may have questions on any of these, you may use the comments section below the articles, as a forum to ask me questions or use it to share your ideas with fellow aspirants who may benefit from your understanding of it.
#Disclaimer1: Most of these are going to be borrowed ideas that worked for me and some brilliant mentors over time have lent it to me over the three years. I am only gathering them together.
#Disclaimer2: Any preparation strategy is an extremely personal product. UPSC or not. What worked for me this time or for others some other time, may not work for you. Kindly read through it keeping the idea lit to reject anything that will not suit you.