‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’
—Friedrich Nietzsche

It was in 2018 that this famous line came true for me. That’s the year I learnt all about success, failure and successful failure. 

While growing up, we are told that if we attended classes regularly, stay disciplined, respect teachers and do not cheat while taking exams, we are bound to be successful, without fail!

In the school, this mantra mostly works, for the environment we are operating in, is somewhat controlled. We restrict our idea of success to scoring well in the examinations. We also compete with the same set of students, for almost 12 years (counting classes 1 through 12).

However, things change when we enter the ‘real’ world, where we don’t have written examinations, and we don’t even get to see our grades or the evaluation doesn’t depend on merely our academic performance. One takes time to adjust to the ‘new’ reality.

This reality dawned upon me when I started taking competitive exams for post-graduation admission. I realised that it wasn’t just the hard work that would yield desirable results. A lesson was waiting to be leant at my
post graduation college, too.

Three months into our course, we had to sit for the internship processes to get a seat in the training programs at some of the best brands in the country. The cherry on the cake? A hefty stipend was on the offer, too.

We all started preparing. The process began. The first company started its drive on the campus. I didn’t make it. But, I wasn’t disappointed. I was sure I’d get picked up in the next round or the one after that. Little did I know that I was to embark on a long journey which shall teach me some very important life lessons.

More companies came in. In a span of a few days, I got rejected by the 20th company, too. I had never imagined that something like this could happen to me, to someone who was ticking all the right boxes on the ‘good habits’ list. Given this situation, I wasn’t able to give my best to the academics. I was scoring a 6.0 CGPA. I started to regret my decision, as I couldn’t see any ray of hope in the near future.

I couldn’t figure out what I lacked. I consulted my seniors, but even they were unable to lay their finger on what was it that I wasn’t doing right. And just when I was beginning to feel ‘it’s all over’, I converted my last shortlist (the 21st or 22nd). It wasn’t a dream company or sector, but I was relieved.

This was the experience that didn’t kill me, and following are the learnings that made me stronger:

During the processes I had observed a girl who would immerse herself in the preparation. Unlike all other students (including me) who’d crib about the unfairness of the process and system, once they failed; this girl kept working towards her goal, despite the same struggles we all had. She had her focus on preparation rather than complains. Taking inspiration from her, I started to judiciously utilise my time instead of cribbing.

I also took the advice of my seniors who suggested focussed on my work and drive towards a better second year and make the best use of the opportunity I had. I did exactly that.

Meanwhile, my internship learnings were extremely helpful and my project helped me understand my second year course with ease. After the failures of the first year, I had decided to not waste a single day of the second year tenure, and to work on making my work better each day.

And that’s exactly what I did. From scoring a 6 CGPA in the first year, I was at scoring a 9GPA in almost all through my second year. I gave my 100% to it. And when the time arrived, I converted the second company I was shortlisted for. I had much more confidence and faith in my work than what I had just a year ago. It was a successful failure. That failure brought  me closer to success, it showed me ’21 ways of how not to’, it inspired me to outdo myself, it showed me the way. 

Today, I feel that the failure of the first year was a great teacher for me. Not only I met people who supported me but also it reiterated a very important lesson for me: strive for excellence, success will follow. 

On this auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima, I offer my obeisance to Sawmiji. Had it not been for his teachings, it would have been difficult for me to see the learnings hidden in the failures.

Also, I would like to dedicate this post to all my teachers (friends, seniors and family members) who were the guiding force in those difficult times; they not only helped me come out of it but also helped me see the brighter side.

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