THOSE NINE ATTEMPTS:-
Don't be discouraged if people don't see your vision, your harvest. All they see from their perspective is that you're watering a whole lot of dirt. They don't see what seeds you've been planting with blood, sweat, tears and lack of sleep. Make sure you don't abandon or neglect it because "they" don't see it. You have to know and believe for yourself. They don't see the roots and what's budding under the dirt. But it's okay, because it's not meant for them to see it.
While you wait, master it. You continue to do your work and have unwavering faith! Remember why you started planting in the first place. Your harvest will come.
Not long ago, I learned that if I let other people tell me how God was supposed to work in my life, I would be dead. If I would have given into someone else’s version of God, then I would have done nothing to improve my situation. The notion that “if it was meant to be, it will be”, is a pacifying, yet harmful quote, that many spiritualists used to soften the blow of anger.
God is not passive. He is relentless, and he will build you through fire. He will put in your heart a need for answers. The intensity of what bothers your soul is often his voice trying to take you from the limited vision of mankind to the full view of the best life he would like to offer you. He is above any pastor, any bishop, any prophet, any church, any cleverly crafted sermon or multi-meaning verse.
He is the master of his craft and the author of your forever. Inner peace is only found through action. Fear may darken the trail, but the light of peace stands at the end of such a journey----waiting with your truth.
The abovementioned quotes are only a few of the many inspirational quotes one can come across over the Internet to motivate oneself. But the question is for how long? Can these sustain you for 4.5 years or rather, for THOSE NINE ATTEMPTS.
2010 – The year of my CA Final exams. I had heard stories from many of my peers of getting up at 5am, going for classes till 10 am and then working for 12 hours post tuitions. They definitely were inspiring yet challenging at the same time. The question I kept asking myself was that how prepared was I? Neither was I taking classes on a daily basis and for such durations, nor was I working such long hours. I got my Study leave from January onwards while the exams were scheduled to take place in May sometime. One would have thought that four months would have been sufficient to complete the course content of 8 subjects (broken down into two groups of 4 papers each). But I was far from reaching near the half way mark in my preparation. What this meant was that I would give only four papers now instead of eight. The reason for this negligence remains a mystery till date.
It could be a culmination of various factors, namely, the new found freedom from work, the desire to catch up with friends, the lack of interest in the course, downright laziness or a sense of arrogance working for the Big 4 and taking the exams lightly. Whatever may have been the reason, the fact remained that these factors did not make me feel confident in giving even the said 4 papers.
January and February went by with little or no studies leaving me with just March and April to cram up the syllabus. The task ahead was daunting and this meant that the entire syllabus under no circumstances could be completed. May approached and my preparation by no means was adequate. The exam date approached, and like a frightened rabbit, I started burning the midnight oil and tried to cover up as much I could.
The exams went by and my performance was mediocre to say the least. However, the good part was that they were over and done with. The next two months went by quite quickly. One had got submerged into the daily routine of work but there was this unnerving tension lingering in my system throughout the day with regard to the result. I knew my performance was below average but there was this hope that the result would be in my favor.
July arrived, and so did the result. As anticipated I did not clear the exams. One would have had to go through the rigmarole of application, rechecking, seeking permission for leaves and then finally getting down and studying again. The leaves were only for two months as against the four months in the previous attempt.
This time I was more determined than before to clear the exams and started to go about my syllabus in a more professional manner. However, ten days into the study leave the momentum seemed to just get lost and I was faced with a similar scenario. Fewer days were left, and a vast course needed to be completed. I tried my best to complete the same, but failed yet again. This led to a failure in the November exams as well.
Two failures plus pressure at work really dampened my confidence and spirit and I start questioning my ability to finish the course. Stories of people giving up kept coming to mind and I for one thought of giving up the course myself.
However, with the help of some friends, family and others I picked myself up and got prepared for yet another attempt. This time the office gave me leave of only 45 days. I hardly had time to unwind and within a couple of days was back to the books again. What I had not anticipated was that the mind was pretty saturated from the previous two attempts and I was not able to give my 100% to the course yet again.
The result came in July 2011 and once again all I got was failure. By now I knew that I was lacking in certain respects, the rectification of which was paramount. This time around the faith shown in me by my fellow friends and family members seemed to be disappearing and I was asked to do a serious introspection and figure out if I was cut out for this course or not. This was probably the first time I felt helpless and annoyed with my simultaneous failures. It was around this time that I was asked to quit office, as I would not have been provided further leaves for all my subsequent attempts.
The failures coupled with the job termination led me into a sort of depression. I became irritable at home, started being a bit rebellious and lost all kinds of hope in god and myself as such.
With a lot of courage and willpower, I started looking up inspirational quotes, meeting fellow CA friends and seeking some help from my seniors. All the above pointed out to just one fact which was this – The battle was mine and mine alone, only I could change it or be defeated by it. No one could fight on my behalf and eventually I would need to be self-motivated to fight this battle.
During this time, I came across this quote, which said, “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” – Winston Churchill. Somewhere this kind of appealed to me and I decided to start afresh and take this battle head on without giving up.
I began with changing my Exam center from Delhi to Faridabad and concentrated on those areas that I had not been completing beforehand. I don’t know from where the willpower and desire came to study the same old syllabus once again.
The exams came in November 2011 and my preparation was much more improved than before. I knew this time I had really put in a lot of effort and I was sure to get a positive outcome. The next two months passed by with that familiar feeling of unnerving tension, but somehow I withstood the test of time and finally in January 2012 the result came. Much to my astonishment, it was another failure. I had passed all the exams but had not achieved the requisite minimum aggregate for clearing the group (which was 200 out of 400).
The score was much more impressive than the previous three attempts but I was still short by 10 marks in all. I took these marks as a motivation rather than a disappointment.
I knew there were a lot of people wishing I gave up on this course and let go off this degree, but I stuck to my guns and got ready to attempt this group for a 5th time. By now I knew nothing was in my favor. Neither were my friends nor family nor age, nothing. This battle had become all the more complex and it required even more determination, willpower, focus, ability and desire than before. The question was, did I have it in me to clear these exams or were the critics right about my incompetency.
Attempt number 5 was no different than the preceding attempt. The same amount of dedication was applied and I felt that at least 4 papers out of the 8 were over and done with. Talks of giving the exams from Dehradun or Jalandhar were doing the rounds, but I decided to give Faridabad Center another try. A similar grind of burning the midnight oil, sacrificing on sleep, friends, festivals, and family get together took place for the remaining period. There was still hope to do well, but the faith in oneself had diminished. The exams took place as scheduled and I felt I had done rather well in this lot, but this only time would tell.
Another two months passed by, doubts started creeping up, serious discussions were being held by the family members to choose analternate career path for me. They had for some reason already eliminated the possibility of me being a CA and I was made to look at one-year courses abroad as a breather from the CA exams. All efforts were being made for me to deviate my mind and look at OTHER options. It was here I felt that somewhere deep within my well-wishers had lost faith in me and my abilities.
During these two years my CA friends had mostly cleared their exams and had landed themselves in good jobs from the Big 4 at an attractive pay package. I for one was not at all jealous of their achievements, as I knew that the true competition did not lie with any of them, but it lay within. Also subconsciously I knew that I had it in me to clear these exams irrespective of what the world may have thought. July 2012 was no different results wise. There was failure yet again and the difference was a mere 11 marks. By now whatever little self-belief and willpower I had went for a complete toss and my whole purpose of existence became a big question mark.
I for one did not know what I needed to change; my perception, my approach, my study pattern, my center, I was at a complete loss. During these 2.5 years I met numerous professors, CAs, friends, advisors, well wishers, family members and they unanimously had only one thing to say – LEAVE CA.
Knowing that these so called advisors were actually only going to hamper my self belief, I did something drastic. I locked myself up and started studying all over again from scratch. I confined myself in my room mostly and took a completely different approach to these exams. I had to physically put in 12-15 hours on the trot per day to be able to clear this group. It took a lot of taking but I ended up completing the entire syllabus around and also managed to attempt some previous year question papers. The goal was simple, pass no matter what.
I looked up the Internet for some more inspiring quotes and I took fancy to this quote, “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” – Ralpho Waldo Emerson. This was the make or break attempt for this group.
Pressure was mounting from my parents to take up an alternate course and to let go off CA, and I had requested for this last attempt. Somewhere down below even I knew that I wouldn’t get another shot at CA if I failed this time around. The exam dates approached and I studied with a totally different degree of focus and determination. The course was completed, prior question papers solved, latest additions and amendments learnt and revisionary test papers looked into. Despite having done all this, the confidence was missing. These were nervous days, not meant for the lighthearted. The exams passed by and I did not analyze my attempt. I knew I had given it my all, this was the best I could have done and I was happy with that.
During the two-month interval period, I seriously considered the alternate career options we had shortlisted. Resumes were amended, letter of recommendations were sought, and various documentation and paper work had commenced. January 2013 approached and this time I was numb to the result.
Somewhere I had mentally reconciled to the result going either way and for the first time it did not matter. If it was pass, I would look into the other 4 papers and if it was fail, my apparent Plan B was already in motion. Strangely enough the night before the result I felt very nervous and locked myself up in my room.
Maybe it was to run away and hide from all the criticism I may have had to face in case of an unlikely scenario. However, finally the result came. I still remember how my hands trembled to punch in my roll number. This time luck was on my side and I had PASSED!
Plan B could wait a while longer. It was time to celebrate. I did not cry or smile but gently gave myself a pat on the back for sticking to something which seemed improbable. Finally my door opened up and the good news was spread far and wide. Some amount of faith had been restored in my family members and well-wishers and most importantly in myself.
The next two months went in celebrations and I had totally forgotten that 4 more papers had to be cleared as well.
It’s said that not everyone can handle success and this saying was applicable in my case as well. The victory brought with it a sense of over confidence and arrogance in me and I felt that the other set of exams would be a piece of cake.
So much so that I started studying for it only 38 days before the exams. May 2013 came by sooner than expected and lets just say the result for this attempt was pretty obvious. Though the effort was there, the overall syllabus under no means was going to be completed. The same old feeling of helplessness, dejection, and self-criticism crept in and the celebrations were soon forgotten.
What followed in those 38 days was a high degree of stress and anxiety. Though I managed to complete a substantial portion in that duration, it was far from being enough by CA Final standards. The exams went by and I felt I stood a remote chance of clearing the exams. The next two months went by in anticipation of the result, hoping against hope that this would be the last attempt to seal the deal. The result came in July, but that too of failure yet again.
One slipped back into the familiar feeling of uncertainty and self-doubt. This failure made the journey and the battle seem never ending. However, in hindsight this failure was important in many ways. It not only brought about some sanctity in the CA Final course but also humbled me.
All of a sudden I realized that it was not going to be a bed of roses to crack this set and would require similar, if not more effort from my part. So once again, I put my head down and started studying wholeheartedly for this final Group. However, this attempt was pretty similar to the second attempt of the first group in the sense that within 10-15 days of studying I lost the momentum and yet again did not complete the syllabus. The exams took place as scheduled in November and my performance in them was appalling to say the least. This attempt could go down as the worst one I had ever given. Neither was I prepared, neither was I confident, neither did I believe that I would clear.
As anticipated the result, declared in January 2014, was that of Failure. Talks of Plan B (alternate career options) resurfaced and many new family members started to pipe in and give their two cents worth. It was pretty tough to request for one more attempt from all of them. But I stood by my belief and told them that I would give the following attempt irrespective of the result.
I guess what we need to realize is that whenever you have taken up any work in hand, you must see it to the finish. I firmly believed in making this CA course come to a logical conclusion and was ready to try yet again.
Finally came attempt 9 amidst a lot of speculation, controversy, criticism, pseudo advice etc. I knew this had to be the attempt to make me a CA and end this course once and for all. I had envisaged certain other plans for myself and now this course was nothing more than a hindrance to those dreams. So I sat down one final time to give it my all to clear this group. Everything one could imagine, from say slogging 14 hours at a stretch, to completing the entire syllabus, to solving the question papers, to learning the latest amendments and having a thorough understanding of revisionary test papers was done. This time I was determined to pass for my own self.
The exams took place in May 2014. I wouldn’t say that they went off really well but yes they were definitely good enough to make me pass. The next two months again brought with it the same eerie, unnerving nervousness feeling. Days were not passing by in a hurry. I pretended to play numb from the outside, but was a nervous wreck within.
I somewhere knew that I might not have had the self-belief, the willpower, the energy, the patience, and the perseverance to give one more attempt if the need arose.
The result day came by eventually. I could not sleep the night before, but this time I remained outdoors, sitting besides my mother till the result came.
Yes, I am proud to say that I cleared this time around and my dream of being a CA is finally a reality. Despite having taken away some precious years from my life, this course has been nothing short of a learning for me.
Firstly, it has made me believe that dreams can be fulfilled if you are ready to patiently persevere and never give up. Secondly, it made me realize that these accolades and rewards are nothing but means to test your willpower and character. Thirdly, both success and failure are two sides of the coin; neither should be taken to heart. Success makes you arrogant and failure makes you helpless. The journey is more important than the end. Fourthly, there is no better feeling in the world than making your parents proud of your achievements. Lastly, have full faith in your abilities and believe in yourself because only you have to fight your own battles. Be prepared to face criticism from people, as they have nothing better to do. If it matters to you NEVER LET GO OFF YOUR DREAM. Try, try and try till you succeed!!!