MOTIVATION: Failed Last Year and Topped This Year – A Remarkable Journey

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If you were a regular follower of this website, chances are that you would have read the below article which was posted last year after 2013 Mains result. 

This article was written by RV – one of our regular followers who used to write on this site regularly. He didn’t clear Mains last year in his first attempt. He hoped to clear it as he had worked extremely hard, but he missed his interview by few marks. Then he wrote the following article for Insights (he was in regular touch with us through email). He asked us to post it anonymously. 

He had ended his article with these words:

This  has helped me to regain the broken pieces and start afresh  for this is the life we all  have chosen , to follow our passions . I have started writing answers again and this time I hope to correct the wrongs , write everyday , rekindle the passion and the self confidence so doused by this failure and begin this journey (again :-) ).”


He did follow his words. Today he has secured All India Rank – 65. He is Raju Mishra, IIT Kanpur alumnus. He will be an IAS officer. If you read the article below, you can sense that India is lucky to get such an officer.

He will be writing another article for Insights outlining his journey from that fateful day when he didn’t clear Mains to the day when he secured Rank – 65 and emerged a winner!


UPDATE: Please Read Latest Article by Raju Mishra on How He Overcome his Failure

Failure : Rock Solid and Icy Cold

By Raju Mishra AIR 65 (Then Anonymous)

Well let me first begin by congratulating fellow peers who are through the Mains’13 and I wish them all the best for the Interviews and now let me turn to my brethren in the true sense , all the rest who have failed in UPSC ’13. And now to the issue at hand :

Failure Rock Solid :

I checked my results thrice it never changed and hit me each time with the same intensity as if being pelted with stones.

Failure Icy Cold :

It made me numb for sometime unable to think / speak / comprehend anything as a matter of fact .

A week it has been since the result came out and the Holi break provided me an opportunity to reflect on my failure ! Hence this article for all those who are wondering “ why” ! This article is for them who wish to know “WHAT NOT TO DO IN UPSC PREPARATION “ OR “ WHAT MAY LEAD TO FAILURE “ ! For those who wish to read what to do to succeed i would pleasantly like to redirect you to Akand’s article and Vinay Sir’s UPSC strategy.

  1. Never think you do not need writing practice

Well this is not what I exactly thought but I had the attitude “ ho jayega “ or “ paper main dekh lenge”. I was very infrequent with my writing practice and used to tell myself the excuse that studying and gaining knowledge was more important . If you donot have the info what good is writing practice going to do , was my ever ready answer to my guilty conscience. Reality is writing practice is as important as studying . It has 3 effects :

  1. Helps you retain things ( believe me it does . I remembered the answers to certain questions which I had written on the website . Since you have already made the effort to formulate the structure of that answer once it really flows smoothly in the exam hall .)
  2. Helps to revise things and learn new things not covered by conventional books
  3. Improves your writing speed , prods u to improve your handwriting and above all develops the ability to think and formulate answers in an efficient way for practice makes you perfect .

I knew all this . And believe me all of us know this but despite it we will make some excuse or the other to not be regular in writing answers beginning from a headache to lack of time to tiredness after back to back coaching etc. Etc. I have been decent at writing , educated from a good Jesuit school and often participating in debates and writing competitions maybe this at times too was an excuse to believe I could “handle “ it . For all with similar backgrounds please don’t think like this and kill your chances . As they say hardwork is all good and appreciated but it really is smart work that shall help you come out with flying colours. Take pride in your writing skills but never be blinded by it .

Moral of the story : the sooner you shed your lethargy the higher the probability of your selection.

  1. Demotivation

If you ask my friends they will always tell you I have always wanted the IAS and IAS only. No placement. No CV building nothing just following my passion through most of my college life . Then why was I demotivated ? Well to tell you all the truth it may not be demotivated but sometimes I lacked the courage to write as I used to see such brilliant answers by some people online like Sahil , Keerthi , Nirmal. This could have been used by me to motivate myself and improve but maybe I chose it as an excuse to not write as frequently as I should have. My lack of knowledge was used in a negative way . As i have harped time and again I used it as an excuse to not write and study more and that was a blunder. Many of you must be starting as freshers and many of you would be repeating. Never ever think just cause you know less or you don’t write as well as others you should not post answers online. Accept it as a challenge to improve to their level and again don’t think by not writing and only gathering knowledge will propel you to that level . You need to study and write it is a symbiotic relation and one reinforces the other J.

Secondly many of us get frustrated very easily . The exam if nothing else teaches you perseverance and patience. However we all want quick results , we want our answers to be brilliant within a week , or know everything in our optional in a month . We often set lofty targets which are very difficult to meet obviously and then get demotivated and think “ mujhse nahin hoga “ , “ kaise hi khatam hoga syllabus “  etc etc. We waste more time thinking than studying / writing . It is a vicious cycle ! We think more , study less , perform badly in mocks , think even more and cycle continues . In th end demotivation and doom.

Realize that this examination is a process that will follow its course , it is slow and hence u need to plan smartly and appropriate to your own ability. Do not compare what your flatmate or friend is doing . You know your abilities , plan realistically and follow it . Nobody can study for 15 hours a day continuously for a year ! Take breaks. Keep yourself motivated. Write at times why you want to be an IAS/IPS/IFS and read it at times when you feel the most low. It gives you a sense of purpose and hopefully shall reignite those passions that has made you choose this difficult yet amazing journey !

  1. Lack of revision

Umpteen times have all of us heard that revision is the most important aspect which determines your performance on the D – day . I alwaz thought that since i had learnt it up things would go really fast and i would be able to revise everything easily . WRONG . FAILURE . revise as much as u can and never leave it all for the last week or just before the exam night . My excuse ? well the same ki yaar I just passed out of college . 5 months better utilise it to gain knowledge , revision will happen very fast if i learn things and understand the concepts religiously. The situation became so dire that i could not revise any subject properly before the mains .

Moral : Keep a day every week where you revise all you have learnt/understood/written. Optional/GS/Current Affairs whatever the case maybe.

  1. UPSC the burden !

A flatmate of mine recently said “ Bhai you may have the knowledge but I did not like one thing about your preparation .” I was like what ? and he said in plain simple tone “ you never enjoyed the process. You took that as a burden and that is why you are in this position”. ( This was 4 days after Mains’13 results )Today when I think of it he is right . I have been wanting this for so long that the months after PRElims seemed to sapped out all my energy and I became the droning groaning aspirant ! I studied . I worked hard .But maybe my attitude was not as positive or cheerful as it should have been .

For every person reading this “ enjoy the process” we are here by choice and not by force . success / failure is not something anybody can be sure of but what we can be sure of is how we guide ourselves through this period .

  1. Never ending breaks

Well my 30 mins of listening to music becomes and hour/1.5 hours . One episode of tv series stretches into 3-4 and football match is followed up by its replays / analysis and press talks . Potion for failure strengthened ! So excuses to not write that time went into this I feel now looking back at things. They seemed innocuous then for I deserved a break if I am studying for 12-14 hours a day but today I see the folly in my logic and how the troika has contributed to my failure. I am not against breaks for they help you to recharge and refresh but do not let it become an excuse to cover your fallacies and do not use it as an excuse for failure that you deserve a movie break as you performed badly in a test and need to vent out the negativity !

I remember watching a Harsha Bhogle talk online. He questioned the audience  as to what do you guys think people mean by 110%, 150% etc. 100% mathematically is the upper limit. And then he explains giving your 100% COMMITMENT to your work to your passion every single day and every single hour till your goal is achieved will translate it giving more than 100% . I know easier said than done but seriously guys people who succeed are indeed that committed. I have a friend who cleared the mains despite being bedridden by jaundice for a month before the mains but even in that condition all I can say it was his commitment and passion that got him through where many freshers /repeaters have failed !

There are n number of mistakes now that I reflect I must have made . Each of us are unique and some of you may know people who have cleared the mains or maybe IAS with flying colours by making ditto mistakes as mine but kindly treat them as exceptions . These 5 mistakes if enter you UPSC life , shall undoubtedly be your Achilles  heel  no matter who you are !
I end my gyaan 😀 with a quote from Rocky Balboa :

It ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

This  has helped me to regain the broken pieces and start afresh  for this is the life we all  have chosen , to follow our passions . I have started writing answers again and this time I hope to correct the wrongs , write everyday , rekindle the passion and the self confidence so doused by this failure and begin this journey (again 🙂 ).


Link To The Original Article

Links to His Answer, Essay, Comment

UPDATE: Please Read Latest Article by Raju Mishra on How He Overcome his Failure

  • Ankith

    I am able to see my self in his words…..thanq insights for this article

  • captain jack sparrow

    Great man.. congratulations!!


    great motivational article , thank you, raju mishra , sir!!!!!!!!!!! wish u come here , guide us at some times !!!!!!!!!

  • prashant

    I pledge to write everyday, because I walked the same shoes..
    Congratulations sir..

  • kavitha

    congrats…………. thank you insights

  • magykars

    So this guy graduated from an IIT and that was not enough. He thought why not I crack every bloody exam the sun. Why get into an IIT then? And then go around and sell your success, be a motivational speaker too. Enough ways to earn money yeah? Such a nerd! This is why some start believing that UPSC toppers are people who studied in reputed institutions like IITs. IIMs or DU. Last time Guarav Agarawal was from the same IIT, IIM class of people, this time Ira Singhal from FMS Delhi. I am glad CSAT is not counted anymore. We don’t need people who mug up formulae, take an optional which they already studied in that reputed institute to spill gyan on how to crack UPSC. You were an elite even before you got through this. This is why they say choose your role models carefully!!!!!!

  • magykars

    So this guy graduated from an IIT and that was not enough. He thought why not I crack every bloody exam under the sun. Why get into an IIT then? And then go around and sell your success, be a motivational speaker too. Enough ways to earn money yeah? Such a nerd! This is why some start believing that UPSC toppers are people who studied in reputed institutions like IITs. IIMs or DU. Last time Guarav Agarawal was from the same IIT, IIM class of people, this time Ira Singhal from FMS Delhi. I am glad CSAT is not counted anymore. We don’t need people who mug up formulae, take an optional which they already studied in that reputed institute to spill gyan on how to crack UPSC. You were an elite even before you got through this. This is why they say choose your role models carefully!!!!!!

    • They get into IIT through hard work. They get into IAS through hard work. It is evident in your tone that your opinion is devoid of any logic and common-sense. Rank – 8 Nitish from our offline class is from Navodaya School and is from an ordinary engineering college. Do you know who studies at Navodaya Schools? Do some research. He is not elite. I am sure, there are only handful IIT/IIM/AIIMS/TISS/NIT graduates are in top ranks. Majority of them are from ordinary colleges and non-elite background.

      If you want to become IAS, please stop complaining and start working hard – with or without CSAT. As long as you keep complaining, success will be elusive. We are sure you must be working hard already. Hope to see your name in top as there is no CSAT this time. Wish you all the best 🙂

      • magykars

        If you gave an example out of observation, I gave my opinion out of observation too, there’s no need to get so defensive. Thanks for your wishes!

      • ashwin kumar p

        Very good reply n conclusion was awsome hope he understands.

      • Rahul Kumar

        Many people who are from IIT, or other institutes are also not able to
        clear. I have some example who are working with me in Job.
        It never
        matters. But why percentage is large from such colleges. Let me clear,
        as I am from engineering background. After studying in good institute,
        you will always confident that I can do. Failure for them -> opening a
        way to learn in better way. They already face such big competition
        after 12th Standard. They thinks, if we can fail, it means we did
        mistake but confident to rectify it.
        This exam is big part on hard work but greatest part is your plan. Way of reading.
        is smart learner, becomes more easily succeed. But how a smart learner
        —> Sometime a good college help as they professor question answers
        help. But it can be develop by anyone, who want to see everyday as an

      • Mahinder

        – IIT/IIM is not the end and neither the IAS or being the Prime Minister of India. One must always strive for the excellence and contribute to the nation in best possible way to their capability and interest.

        – Even to get that opportunity to study at reputed college one need to work hard smartly. All you need is the spark to do something and it does not matter who are you, what have you done earlier, where do you live….

        – Excuse and complains are biggest reasons that would lead you to failure. Every human has some or other problems (Financial, Health, Family….) in their life, even the PM Modi or Business Man like Mukesh Ambani have problems but the key is to face your problem and learn from them

        – Also every recruitment process is designed as per the requirement of the job post so is the Civil Service Exam. It is not like what the candidate knows or what they are good at.

        – I do agree the number of successful candidates from the Hindi medium has declined but i still don’t have any clue how making the CSAT qualifying would serve the purpose, it has only created the instability in the current situation for all candidates

        – Appreciating the good work of someone does not mean that he/she will become your role mode.

        – Someones success stories does not say it the only path to achieve the success but what is common in all of them is basic parameters – a hard work with rationality, commitment, doing by will and not by force, ….

        Have a Great Day 🙂

      • Rajesh

        Navodaya –> Respect !!

      • Abhishek V

        thanks for writing this Vinay sir. Was irritated since morning after seeing this.

  • Remarkable indeed.
    Just d pep talk that was needed.
    Often its things like these , something u read somewhere , some coversation with a stranger, a quote from a movie or book, that end up making a difference . Kudos to insights , been following u guys for a while !have been writing , need to start posting more religiously !
    Cheers to hard work that pays off( in d writers case ) and that preps u to start over ( in my case )

    PS: As for the hater(s): JK Rowling puts it rather succinctly in one line -“Vitriol is so often the tribute inadequacy pays to articulacy”. Be respectful man.✌️

  • Nikhil

    Salute to the man for his passion & never bending down spirit. This is what India & services required. My great wishes to you & others like you best of luck with good health. The words from Harivansh Rai Bachhan’s poetry fits to this man i.e Himmat karne walon ki Haar kabhi nahi hoti….Keep the good work going.Jai Hind.

  • ashwin kumar p

    Salute n a standing ovation to u my of luck to the rest of the journey.we alll will join in coming years.

  • Vibhu

    This was badly needed. Thanks to RV and to Insights for it. Wish you all the best for future IAS sir:). Hope to meet you as an IAS officer next year. Eagerly waiting for your this years article. Arise Awake and rest not till the goal is achieved.— Swami Vivekananda

    • Bikashfree

      vibhu… need little help man.. i still feel something is lacking in my strategy..
      if you can give me your email id or fb address, i would contact you..

      • Vibhu
        • Bikashfree

          yes.. i did note it. not a prob..

          • Vibhu

            Drop me a not whatever you want to discuss then we will take it forward.

    • Hi, can u share ur email plz? ,if u don’t mindWent for interview, but couldnt make into the final list. Have few questions regarding the strategy.

      • Vibhu

        Hi ToxicViper,
        I think u r mistaking me. I have nto even cleared prelims and you cleared mains as well.
        I need your email id to discuss. Many Thanks.

          • Vibhu

            Thanks Jithesh. Will drop u a mail in the evening and then we can discuss.

          • Vibhu

            Thanks Man. Dropped u a mail.

  • Sumant K.

    Except point 1 and 3, i am doing same mistakes he did last time. Going to learn from his mistake. Thanks for opening my eyes. 48-49 days left, so going to rectify some things.

  • Titanium Spine

    What a wonderful thing to read this morning:) And what good sense this young man has. Very impressive and much deserved:)

  • Bikashfree

    timely article sir…

  • Rajesh

    Kudos Man. Rightly said enjoy the process rather then taking it as a burden.
    Thanks Insights, we all know answer writing plays a big role in the selection still we repeat the same mistake again n again. Hope this time I will rectify it and make progress.

  • KK

    Thank u insights and rv .. Helpful and motivating 🙂

  • Mohita

    Wow!!! A desperately needed lifeline. Thank you Raju, for such an insightful, heartfelt and threadbare analysis of the do’s and dont’s of preparation. As you rightly said, making up excuses for not writing and revising, and stretching 15 mins breaks into hours comes very easily to me too. The exact very reasons (I will refrain from using the word “maybe” in the beginning of this sentence) that are hindering my progress (and hopefully eventual success) too! But thanks to such contributions from peers like you, we, the digressed, can hope to come back on the right track.

  • Bhagat

    Congo Raju,and yes to insights is really inspiring for those lof us who had just started their preparation.

  • gaurias

    sir what is there at iit many qualify the exam for this college .
    congratulations to all of u guys

  • Mayuresh Pawar

    Congrats RK!!!…very insightful article….Thanks for the motivation

  • Kausik Ays

    congratulations Raju :).. very helpful article .. thank u

  • AJ

    congrats raju……….thanx for such great article..

  • ANAP

    “The journey is very tough yet nothing is stopping me and everything is favoring me, except me myself, problem is inside me or maybe there is no problem at all, it’s just an excuse?. yes, it’s just an excuse because I never find any excuses when I want to play some computer games or partying with my friends but how to tackle this humongous problem”, well, the only and only solution is to get into your books or ebooks whatever just start reading something, it has two benefits, 1. mostly books are interesting and it will drive you many miles far from your “invisible problems”, 2. It will Boost your confidence (THE REAL REASON).

    You are lacking confidence which results into increasing fear, lethargy, and hopelessness.

    “So how should I regain Confidence??”

    Remember the things which made you choose this. The reasons could be many like “Uniform of LBSNAA or of IPS”, “LALBATI”, “Gender inequality”, “Social discrimination” “GF/BF issue(use these feelings as success driver)” . it will also help you to jump off the bed in the early morning.

    Secondly, if you feel that you are very much behind the people from IIM and IIT’s, here’s a trick, imagine yourself as an IItian who have cleared many tough exams in his/her life and that with a “Cool” attitude. this might sound absurd but Dear,it actually works just like Fake problems inside your brain, it is a Fake solution to address them.

    Third, Do meditation, it makes you calm,you listen more and speak less, enable you to think broadly and during meditation,visualize yourself in those uniforms, family welcoming, name plate with “IAS (YOUR NAME)” it will stimulate your feelings for your Goal.

    “What will be the next?”

    As you start reading daily, try to enhance your’s reading duration so that you can cultivate the habit of reading.
    finally, Once you succeed in it, Your basic problems will be solved and you will be promoted to “Serious Aspirant’s problems!!”


      Good afternoon sir ,
      I have started my preparation for CSE now but I am preparing for upsc For a while ,so pls help me with all phenomenons of reading ,studying consistently ,writing habits and above all how to counter negative thoughts, anti-social elements and past .although I am familiar with all these but I want to gain more take more and be a determined aspirant.
      Pls sir reply ASAP

  • Nikhlesh Katare

    truely awesome……..

  • megha_

    Incredible! Congratulations Raju!

  • Albus BhojRaj

    Thank you so much and Congratulations Raju Mishra sir 🙂
    Yes, WRITING REALLY HELPS, at time It seems that we are wasting TIME, but at the end it really Helps in REVISION 🙂 and Building Confidence.

  • nsathya1990

    Thank You Raju Mishra for your brilliant motivational article and all the best for your future.

  • Subhash Tadala

    This is the case with me also which made me demotivated everytime. Thank you for such an article Insights. Needed at this time. Kudos

  • Hare Krishna

    thanx alot for for successful journey…. it wil help many of us to emulate from it.

  • A rather similar story here. Did not get into the Main list last year. Rank 35 this year. Thank you Insights-your daily answer writing topics and updates were a huge help!

    • Vibhu

      Awesome…I mean Wow. Sorry sir wo Saif yaad aa gaya:)

    • iasaim

      Congratulations sir I am following your answers in past I think you are a law specialist in conversation I have seen this comment from you pls help me sir I less strength on language poor boy not understanding well but I follow this site from last one year but not improved because of less grip on English language what stratagy I have to follow for gs preparation and reading two times a topic but not understanding and grasping pls help me sir and aspirants

    • ~Kal-El~

      hey abdaal, very hearty congratulations on your success. i had somewhat felt that such type of quality answers that you wrote (in insights) will be fetching marks. and you did.
      i would request you to write a post on the preparation that you did, plus your life experiences important for the preparation and building personality.
      it will be immensely helpful to us, here trying to learn from successful candidates.
      thnk you

    • mpk

      Wowwww…….Congrats Akhtar…. I am really elated to know this…as I am also one of your followers of answer writing in this site……

    • PranavSontakke

      Congrats Sir

    • Mohit

      Congrats Abdal!!! Very inspiring story indeed. Would love to connect with you over the phone. Would you be kind enough to share your number on 9970971398 (my number)?

      This was my 2nd attempt. Both times, reached till the interview stage but couldn’t get into the final list. Hope to rectify my mistakes in future and clear the exam 🙂

    • preeti

      congrats sir

    • Congratulations sir….
      Sir, I am new to Civil Services Examinations…and decided to appear for CSE-2017…so sir…please need some advice on what and how to start the preparation (as I am currently selected as PO in UCO Bank)…so that by next year I will be ready with all the syllabus covered…

  • Naina Agarwal

    This is really inspiring even i m quite irregular at pratice writing i try to be more panchual ..thankyou so much…

  • jiten V

    Thanks to RV and Insights keeping this post for all of us. This post is very much motivating & make me to plan systematically to achieve the IAS.

  • malli babu

    thank you insight

  • Lalit Katheria

    Practice and revision, both are corner stone for this exam……
    I am lacking in both…….
    From last couple of week, I am revising regulaly….
    thanks RV sir for giving nice point which are not easily noticed by aspirants……

  • Manish2015

    Inspired a lot and yes will definitely change my habit of not writing answers from today 🙂

  • Vinuthna Vinu

    Thank u RV and congos for getting into UPSC and all the best ?

  • Abhinav Bhat

    very thoughtful and quite inspiring coming from a humble person too…

  • vani

    Yes,I do the same thing. I will rectify the mistakes and appear in toppers list in 2015 exam. Thanks a lot sir…

  • Arnab Mandal


  • Praveen

    Congratulations for ur all deserved success…All the best.

  • shdl

    Congratulations Sir..and thank you very much for sharing such invaluable words. We all know the same mistakes we do but most of us do not aware of the outcome until they face the reality. these words are indeed needed as i just started the journey..thanks again!

  • jithin

    i am reading this article when i am exhausted with day’s study, i feel reignited

  • Indian

    congratulations Raju!!! it was good motivation for me

  • pkk

    wow .. this is exceptional !! I remember reading this article a year back .. so heartening ..!!
    Thank you so much INSIGHTS for being there for us !!

  • PranavSontakke

    Thank you Insights for all this…Congrats Raju Mishra Sir

  • Akshi

    Big congrats to rv and all the winners who not only got success in their life BT set an example for aspirants like me also…..A HEARTLY thanks to insights for providing us such a platform …..such motivational articles are the true insights of we are and how far we HV to go……thnx a lot to the insights team……

  • Mohit

    Congrats Raju! Very heartening and inspiring to read your story. Would you be kind enough to share your number? I would love to talk to you over the phone. My number is 9970971398. You can mssg me your number on it.

    This was my second attempt and was expecting a rank in the final result but alas! A similar fate met me in the last attempt as well. Since the past 3 years, I have been only studying for this exam full time at home in Mumbai and not doing any other job. After the result, I have now decided to work and probably study side-by-side for the exam.

    Again, It’d be great to talk to you. Enjoy your success man and hope you will contribute immensely as an IAS officer to making India a better and more prosperous country for all its citizens!!

  • Ripon

    congrats sir . feel great to have ur insights ..ATB

  • Arundhathi Mangamuri

    Congratulations sir
    could you help us by giving more about your preparation strategy and the material…
    Being from a non law background, I am feeling it difficult to write answers for the previous year’s questions. Could you help with this sir..?

  • Venkat

    Buddy you enlighting story sparked a light on us , mixed with lot of emotions and taking up challenges , positive attitude , stress , pressure and lot more …. thanks for writting !!! Insight the best blog ….wishing you all the best !!!

  • athokpam paramvir

    congratz..and thank you for your tips..

  • Rohit Raj

    Just a fresher and had started jolting in deep pool, could relate so much ur attitude earlier. Hopefully wll learn and improvise. Thank u and best wishes

  • Austin

    From Rock solid and Icy Cold to 24 Carat Gold! Congratulations Sir! You Inspire! 🙂

  • khushboo sharma

    I got to know about Insights from a friend of mine. i have already appeared for UPSC exam thrice but couldn’t clear even Prelims. i am married and have a seven month old baby. I am working in a public sector bank. i cannot study for more than four hours in a day. still i gathered courage to prepare for this exam because still i believe i am made for being a civil servant. i am destined for this. 2016 would be my last attempt. I am alone in this battle. hope insights team and everyone attached help me in my endeavour so that i achieve my dream.

  • Wooster

    I can relate well to your post…. The mains results this year had left me shocked as I had expected to clear… But now I can see my mistakes …this post has given me plenty of hope for I now know where I went amiss and can now rectify my mistakes … Thanks, Raju 🙂