I completed my Class 10 with very little clarity on what I’d do for my graduation. I wanted to join the Indian Foreign Service ie. become a diplomat. But, that meant clearing the Civil Services Exam of India, which, in turn, required one to have a graduate degree. But, which graduate degree should I get? I spent the better part of my Class 11 trying to get an answer to this question.
When I was at the fag end of Class 11, someone suggested to me that I should try to get into one of the IITs, the premier engineering colleges of India. Good idea, I thought. I started preparing for IIT JEE, the exam to get into the IITs. I enrolled myself into a coaching course through correspondence.
Unexpectedly, the correspondence course proved too tough for me. I would start a chapter and give up. I would start again and give up again. I bought various reference books that the course recommended. I would jump from one book to another, not able to decide which ones were best suited for me. In addition, whenever I’d hear about a good reference book, I’d get it. In the process, I accumulated a lot of books and reference material but very little knowledge to crack the IIT JEE. I appeared for the IIT JEE and I flunked it.
Although I had expected the result, my heart ached when I did not find my roll number in the list of successful candidates. But I learnt a lesson on that day, which served me well in future – Working half-heartedly to achieve your goal is worse than not working at all. I’m not sure if this was the most painful lesson that I’ve learned but surely one of the most painful.