My Pot of Confidence

My Pot of Confidence

It is a lazy Saturday evening, and I am sitting with my laptop trying to figure out the one special personal milestone that I have achieved in my life. For different people, the qualifying criteria for a special achievement could be different. For example, let us take the case of a marketing manager working in an MNC. There is a bright chance that he would point his finger at a tough marketing deal he had pulled off and which had been instrumental in catapulting him to the post of CEO.

To my way of thinking, a special personal achievement should be something that gives a person a lasting sense of confidence. It should be something that stands a person in good stead in the face of much greater difficulties that he/she may encounter in later life.

Right since the time I was a young lad; when it came to academics, my parents would always cite the example of my cousin who is an IIT, and IIM graduate as the person I should try to emulate. By the time I was in my 9th grade I had my eyes set on getting through the IIT JEE. As a student, I was well above average, but I was not one of those who were considered typical IIT material. And I was fully aware of this and so were my father and mother.

But I was attracted to the glitz and glamour of the IIT tag and made up my mind, that come hell or high water I would make my way through the hallowed portals of the IITs. I passed my 10th grade in the year 1981 and it was not till the time I began my 12th that I started preparing for the IIT joint entrance examination.

Those days the IIT JEE was not a two-tier examination. There was nothing called JEE Mains. Another thing was only 2000 people were selected for admission. The selected students could opt for admission to IIT Madras, IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, and IIT (BHU). Those days IIT (BHU) was known as IT BHU as the institute had not yet been granted IIT status. This was the case, even though the selection of students for admission was through the IIT Joint Entrance Examination even at that time.

I would also like to mention here that the IIT JEE comprised of a paper each in Math, Physics, Chemistry, and English. The English paper was not competitive. The students just had to get the qualifying mark in English.

I prepared for the IIT JEE in the 12th grade with two of my close friends who were both Math geeks. I was the least intelligent among the three. This, in spite of the fact that I could not be categorized as a bad student. But the other two were simply brilliant. We prepared throughout the year, and I wrote the exam and in all honesty, my performance was bad. The results were declared, and my friends had secured ranks 166 and 198. My roll number was nowhere to be found in the list of selected students.

I went back home and was close to tears when I told my parents about the results. My father patted me on the back and said, ‘Don’t worry son, I have the confidence you can get into an IIT if you work hard enough. Take admission in a bachelor’s degree course in science and prepare even more seriously this time.’

To cut a long story short I took admission to the B.Sc. Chemistry degree course in a local college. I then began my second year of preparation for IIT JEE. I worked plenty hard. Not 10 or 12 hours, but for a period of 6 to 8 hours daily. Finally, the day of the exams arrived and this time I was reasonably confident. After all, I had put in two solid years of preparation.

I still remember the two days when the exams were conducted and the race against time as I attempted each paper. Another problem was I had completely neglected my B.Sc and had not attempted even one paper of my B.Sc exams. So, somehow, I had to get into an IIT. I was fighting with my back against the wall, and I knew it.

The results were out after a month and since there was no internet in India those days, they were declared at the IIT campus itself. I was in Chennai, the erstwhile Madras at that time. I remember travelling by bus to the IIT Madras campus to check the results. There was a long queue standing in front of the notice board on which the results were put up and I had to wait for nearly an hour before I was in front of the list. And to my joy, I found I had secured rank 1783 out of 2000.

This meant that I would get admission to the Metallurgical engineering course in IT BHU. The other options were Ceramics or Mining engineering. The department of Metallurgical Engineering was supposed to be the best in Asia at that time. Naturally, I opted for that. But there is one thing honesty forces me to admit. The aftermath of getting through the IIT JEE and getting selected for admission to IT BHU was not so good for me. The standards were very high, and it was with difficulty that I managed to get through the course.

After passing out of IT BHU, for some time I tried to take up a career in marketing, but I discovered I was not a glib talker and could not sell whisky to a drunk. Finally, I decided to get into Information Technology, and I have had a reasonably successful career in that.

Here I would like to answer the question, why do I consider getting through IIT JEE my special achievement even though I have not reaped the benefits as much as I would have liked to? This is because I got through an exam that was draconian in toughness levels and this has given me enormous confidence in life. And every time I feel something is beyond my ability to achieve, I delve into the pot of confidence that this achievement has given me and drink a small teaspoon from it. This is the reason; I consider it my special personal milestone.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop

9 Thoughts to “My Pot of Confidence”

  1. I’ve often wondered what’s common to metallurgy and IT. I mean, after getting to know you. I still wonder.

    But I admire the grit you’ve shown in life.

    1. Jai

      Thank you so much for the comment Tom. Regarding your question as to what is common between Metallurgical engineering and IT, several metallurgical engineering processes are automated using computers. Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacture are some of the common software that are used for designing. There are several other processes for which computers are used. This is the case with Blast furnaces and several other things. But of course, fact remains that what I did in my career is totally different. I was developing Websites and that had nothing related to Metallurgy.

      1. 👍
        Thanks for the information.

  2. Bittersweet post in every sense, Jai…the memories, the tone and the facts but an amazing achievement which has been a fount of confidence for the rest of the journey.

    1. Jai

      Yes indeed, sis. The confidence I got by clearing IIT JEE somehow managed to soak into my system so completely that it has stood by me in almost all aspects of life.

  3. Good one! Liked how the milestone gave you confidence for life!

    1. Jai

      Thank you for visiting.

  4. Krishna Kumar

    Terrific read Jai. That was one mammoth achievement. Only a handful of people know what it takes to get into and then graduate from IIT. Happy to know that it gave you boatloads of confidence to take on the challenges of life.

    1. Jai

      Yes Krishna. That achievement has given me the ability to face anything in life, not just in academics, but just about any challenge. Thanks for visiting. Been a long time since we spoke and even longer since we met. I will call sometime soon.

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