When I was young, I fell sick every time I had an exam.
A part of me wanted to give up.
But I would be awake till late, fighting my fears and preparing to the best of my ability.
Here are the 5 lessons that I learnt along the way, lessons which later went on to become the top guiding principles for my life:
1. It’s Showtime. No Excuses:
Exams were uncomfortable for me as a child, but under the layers of fear, they also carried an unknown excitement.
They were my opportunity to shine. I had a choice – I could just survive, or I could forget everything and leverage them to bring out my best. Like the lines of Shahrukh Khan’s dialogue in the movie ‘Chak De India’:”Vo sattar minute…” (Those seventy minutes…)…in those 3 hour slots, I was the one running the show.
Little did I know that despite the fears, constraints and tough environment, my mind was learning to give its best whenever it was SHOWTIME.
2. Adopting Change for the better:
A paracetamol the night before (to ease my fever & headache) became my way of life; until while writing an exam one day, I realised it only temporarily reduced my headache. It was perhaps not the best thing to take when I needed my brain to be at its best.
Off went the tablet and I replaced it by walks in the fresh air – despite the chill in Dehradun, my home town – and a handful of almonds. This worked equally well. Till date, I do not take medications unless absolutely needed.
Little did I know that I was developing my willpower to give up habits that were not serving me well, at the click of a light bulb moment.
3. Not letting the Past affect the Future:
There were days when my exams did not go as well as I’d hoped. On my way back home, there would be voices in my head telling me what I did wrong, how badly I screwed it up, “it would have gone better if you’d only…”, and so on, and so on.
And then I would take control, shutting them all down: “What is done is done. You cannot change it. Forget everything and prepare for the next one tomorrow.” And then the next day, I would rock it.
Little did I know that I was tuning myself to erase the past stories in my mind, so that the space could be utilized to write the next big story.
4. Getting Back Up:
Failures kicked me hard and pushed me to give up. But life never stops and you need to start back again with a better perspective.
My family gave me space to pause a little, reflect, learn; and then encouraged me to jump back onto the bandwagon again.
Little did I know that they were teaching me resilience- the essential element of success. It is not how many times you fall but how many times you get back up with all that you have, that defines your success.
5. Shiny Object Syndrome:
CAs from India will relate to the pain of failing a CA exam. I had to give my CA Final a couple of times, before I finally cleared it.
Never having tasted failure before, it would have been easy to give up and be lured by a well-paid job in a nearby metropolitan, something that all my friends were picking up. But it was my mum who helped me keep my focus- one thing at a time.
Little did I know that I was learning to keep away from the shiny object syndrome.
Our best learnings were not in school, but on each of those days.
The most difficult days in our childhood seem to be the ones with the best takeaways.
Those difficult days passed. So, will these.
However, what will matter is what you learnt. And how you implemented those learnings to adapt and write a powerful story for tomorrow!