By Ira Singhal:
Editor’s Note: Student stress and depression are one of the leading causes of suicides among Indian youth. However, failure should hardly have such a negative connotation in the minds of those who are young and have the world at their disposal so to say with a variety of choices available when it comes to career. This is in response to a question on Quora. A user asked: I am not able to crack Civil Services even after 2 attempts. Am I a loser? Ira Singhal, the 2014 topper of the UPSC exam, shares an astute answer which is insightful and tackles the real problem – that of Indian youth feeling trapped amidst a very limited set of choices. Having cleared the Civil Service exam in her fourth attempt, becoming the first person with disability to top the exams, Singhal has had her own share of failures just like everyone else.
How does clearing or not clearing UPSC make you a winner or a loser?? This is just one exam for a particular type of job! So what if you didn’t clear this?? Is everyone on earth who is anyone doing UPSC based jobs?? What about Sachin Tendulkar, Aishwarya Rai, Bill Gates, Narendra Modi, Mary Kom? Have they all cleared UPSC? This is such a wrong attitude!! Maybe you are meant to do something else with your life! How can everyone be destined for the same job?
If you are really keen on it, then instead of getting depressed and blaming life, try to analyse what exactly it is that you are doing wrong. And be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t keep blaming external circumstances. Remember that you can only change yourself and not other things. So work on yourself and be honest. If you lie to yourself, you are only harming YOU. Telling your mom-dad or others that you prepared so well but the system was rigged, doesn’t really do anything in the long run. Find your mistakes, see what it is that others have done that you missed on, and do it!
In case you are not too keen on it, then great! Go do something else! You may be much more successful in anything else than you might ever be as a civil servant anyway! Our country needs lots of doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists….not that many civil servants! This is not the only way to achieve something in life. This is just an exam for a job…you may actually be someone suited for something else entirely! That doesn’t make you a loser! How could it! Just because your path is something else, doesn’t put you higher or lower than others! That kind of thinking is just so so wrong! In my opinion, the point of life is to be the best you can and contribute to the world around you. There is no one way of doing it! You can be just as happy at something else and actually make a bigger difference and be happier! So stop associating this exam with more than it is! It is not the only way of life and not the only way to success! In fact, the exam is just about getting a particular type of job! Success will be defined by how you do it and not by getting or not getting this job! And you can be just as successful at anything else!
So don’t get depressed! Think smart! Life is much beyond just this exam and success is a far more deeper a concept that can ever be encompassed by just one exam! If not this, then do something else! Success is all about being happy and making a difference! You can do it by many other ways!
I do hope you clear this exam if that is truly the only way you think you can make a difference but if you can think of anything else, then I wish you all the success in that!
This response was originally part of a Quora post.