Her evenings were spent at the tea stall- the hub of discussions. That’s where she would spend hours extracting guidance from her fellow aspirants. At night, she would binge watch- no, not Netflix, but playlists of toppers’ talks & listen to all their techniques in a bid to emulate them. Then she would download hundreds of toppers’ answer scripts to copy their style. Right before she’d fall asleep- she’d read articles penned by toppers’. “Excellent answers. Your originality will make you stand out.”- her mentor would compliment her after every weekly review but she was still plagued by self-doubt. In a bid to become better she tried to copy others, but ended up eroding her originality & became a part of the herd.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s good & highly recommended to learn from others ALWAYS- to listen to their experiences, what they did wrong, how they overcame setbacks, what worked for them. But you must realize that we are all unique, with our own strengths & weaknesses. There was a pile of crushed paper balls strewn all over her study table- her many attempts at writing poetry weren’t yielding fruit. She didn’t know how to write poetry, she could write beautiful stories, but a topper had started their essays with poetry & she wanted to emulate that (thus, forgetting her strengths). So you see? How forgetting one’s strengths & blindly copying others can be detrimental? Being low on confidence can do that to us.
The Cambridge dictionary defines confidence as “the quality of being certain of your abilities, of having trust in people, plans or the future.” Certainty: we would love for certainty regarding our future, right? We would like to be certain that X test series provides majority of the questions that may come in prelims, certain that we’ll clear the exam, certain that things will go exactly as our minds have planned it. But we both know, that doesn’t happen too often. It is said, U in UPSC stands for “unpredictable”.
Are you uncertain about your abilities? Do you constantly doubt yourself? When you see others scoring 198/200 in mocks or writing eloquent answers – does it make you feel under-confident? The antidote to this? Please, stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique. We all have different starting points. You may be good at polity, but somebody else may be good at geography & hence they’ll require less time to cover it or write wonderful answers on it. Instead – focus on your daily progress. Stop competing (in an unhealthy manner) and stop comparing.
You must also TRUST: yourself, your mentors, your plans & stop second guessing yourself on every decision. Raise your self-awareness; understand your strengths & weaknesses. Work on further strengthening your strengths, and on improving upon your weaknesses. Remember, the ability to do something can always be acquired. If you’re bad at MCQs- it only means that you need to practice – it’s not rocket science. With more practice, you will learn the techniques to solve them & enhance your abilities. Mike Norton said: “Beethoven said that it’s better to hit the wrong note confidently, than hit the right note unconfidently. Never be afraid to be wrong or to embarrass yourself; we are all students in this life, and there is always something more to learn.”
Trust the mentor you have chosen, the timetables, there is no time to be fickle & indecisive. But most importantly, TRUST YOURSELF. You are special in your own way & it’s important to retain your originality.
Walt Disney said: “Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”
So will you believe in yourself a 100% from NOW? Tell us in the comments!
Be confident. Trust yourself and your abilities. You will reach great heights.
Until next time!