The Civil Services Exam can be one of the most challenging exams globally due to its low success rate, variety of subjects in the syllabus and multiple stages one has to clear to get his/her dream service. Hence, not only does this exam give you enormous respect once you clear it, but it can also teach you the bitter truth of life. I would not prefer to call them the darker sides since Civil Services Exam is one exam that teaches you valuable life lessons and knowledge even if you don’t clear it. Like for any great cause, aspirants must forsake some things to reach their goal.
- A Different World – All serious UPSC aspirants will be in their own world. They must study, revise, take notes, attempt mock tests, and balance their daily work and other routine activities to accommodate their studies into their lives. Hence, the moment you become a serious aspirant, you will see that you get detached from the usual way of living you had before. Your favourite pastimes, TV shows now have to be accommodated wholly or appropriately shunned to make room for studies. You can now see that life around you is getting changed.
- No More Social Gatherings – Be it a friend’s marriage or a birthday party, your timetable may not allow you to be there. If you still decide to go there and feel the guilt building up, then it means that you are becoming serious about your preparation. To any aspirant, time spent on an activity that does not help him/her to achieve his/her goal can be quite hurting as he/she will have to work extra to replace the lost time. While it is granted that all aspirants must find their own time to relieve their stress, and a social gathering can be a good place to do that, multiple social events can ultimately derail the balance of your preparation.
- Arrows of Questions – The civil services journey is a long one, and it takes 1.5 years to clear it even if you do it on your first attempt. But for those living outside this journey, it seems that anyone can get their dream position by simple mugging up facts like their school/college education. Hence, every aspirant will go through a particular set of questions, often painful ones about their preparation, failures, examples of others who have already attained success in their life etc. So, get ready to face questions not only from UPSC but also from unknown relatives and distant friends. So, be mentally prepared for those questions and learn to handle them diplomatically without being affected.
- Self-Doubt – As I have mentioned before, each cycle of the exam is roughly 1.5 years, and each cycle consists of 3 exams- Prelims, Mains and Interview. And each stage has to be cleared every time, and most of the aspirants, even successful ones, have failed multiple times at one or more of these stages. Civil Services Exam is like a game of Test Cricket- it takes time to get a result; for that, a strategy has to be placed, and one has to play patiently to implement that strategy. Failures should be taken as life lessons and should not let you fall into the pit of self-doubt. Many aspirants fall into this sad state of self-doubt, and I assure you, even successful aspirants go through this. Ultimately, it’s a strong mind that wins you the title.
- Peer Pressure- The success rate for this exam is less, and there is a sea of opportunities for graduates out there. So, many of your friends might have high-paying jobs with significant job designations and on their way to “getting settled”. This could make you feel unworthy and create doubt in the decisions you have made. Once again, this is very normal and start believing in yourself. Remember, you chose this journey to serve your country, and that purpose is your confidence. Keep yourself happy and motivated. And most importantly, take care of your mind and body. Stress builds up gradually if you forsake these two things.
“Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts, and thoughts result in action.”– Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
The great gift of the human imagination is that it has no limits or end. Success, failure- these words do not matter in this journey. Once you have decided to become a Civil Servant, no matter what the result is, stay true to your journey. Accept every life lesson with grace and work towards achieving your goal—best wishes!