I took CAT twice and in between life happened in the worst and in the best form. On one hand, traveling was as unbelievable as a dream, on the other hand, depression taught me the most important lessons of my life. How did these two extremes meet?! Well, lets start from the start!
I was in the 3rd year of my engineering when I started to prepare for CAT. Like everyone else, I enrolled myself in a coaching institute and went with the flow. I wanted to clear CAT anyhow because I had decided to skip sitting for placements and take the risk of ending up with nothing. The thing is I never wanted to get into an IT job. Early on, I realised engineering was not my cup of tea. I had never believed in having a Plan B in life because when you have plan B, your focus from Plan A gets diluted. It was either MBA from one of the top 10 colleges or nothing. Fast forward a few months, it was June 2017 and my first CAT attempt was due in November 2017. But as it is said, “Life happens when you are busy making other plans”. A lot of issues led me to severe depression for around 3 months and I stopped studying altogether. Naturally, CAT 2017 was a disaster and I scored 90.7%. I didn’t apply to any other college apart from IIMs as those are to be ticked in the CAT form itself. I took no other exams. I had no calls!
All I was left with was a bunch of relatives and friends seeing me as a complete failure. But no matter what, my parents were very supportive. My mother was my saviour who pulled me out of depression and motivated me to look forward in my life. I still remember telling my mother, “I have failed you. I have failed myself. But I will not fail in life. Give me a year. Let me follow my passion. Let me travel and prepare for CAT simultaneously.” It was not easy for my parents to decipher where my life was heading towards but they said, “All we can give you is time.” And that very thing, “time” changed everything.
So, I decided to travel to Egypt, solo! That was unthinkable not just to my extended family but even to me. After all, I was a small town Marwari girl with no exposure to how the world works. But when you challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, life can show you surprises and the same thing happened with me. I ended up spending 45 days in Egypt, travelled to 12 cities, and made friends from 15 countries. I started travel blogging since I had past exposure in content writing and digital marketing and started to write for publications and start-ups.
My passion for travel and adventure turned into a new meaning for life. It gave me the confidence I needed to pick myself up from the shatters. I did more than 10 trips that year, sometimes with family, sometimes solo. As I travelled across places, it’s the myriad experiences that I still reflect upon every single day. From scuba diving in the abundant waters of Red Sea for 5 continuous days to hot air ballooning over the ancient temples of Egypt, from trekking in the deep forests of Andamans to hiking up the dreamy Tiger Nest in Bhutan, I did it all. But more than anything else, I transformed, I revived, and I evolved.
CAT 2018 was approaching fast. I knew that I had to give my all to my preparation. I had no job at hand and in that scenario, peer pressure can really get on to your head! I remember how I would take innumerable sectional tests and mock tests to strategize for the D-Day. I would lock myself in a room for days and study hard. Sometimes, I even solved LR questions in my dream. The thing is I had no other choice and I would admit, I had fallen in love with Analytical Reasoning. I solved Sarvesh Verma twice, took 100+ sectional tests and 25 mock tests, solved the whole portal of TIME ad IMS, watched and solved all Elitegrid videos on Youtube. In the week before CAT, I remember going to IMS centre for a counselling session. There, Dwijendra Sir told me that I was good at LR but I was ignoring DI completely in my mocks! In that week, I solved 110 DI sets! You must be wondering how I remember the numbers so clearly. Because I was that obsessed to crack CAT this time!
The D-Day arrived and again, I headed for something destructive. I was wearing warm clothes and the air conditioner in the test centre didn’t work. After the VARC section, I was sweating and I felt like I would faint. One of the invigilators stood beside me for the next 2 hours to check on me. I had only one option – give my best. Nonetheless, although I thought I have messed up my life yet again, I got 97.22% in CAT. I took other exams as well and fortunately flared in all of them. I had calls from XLRI, IIFT, MICA, SIBM, MDI, new IIMs, and IIM Shillong. I converted MDI, new IIMs and SIBM and finally joined MDI Gurgaon. The day I got this news of converting MDI, I could see the happiness in my parent’s eyes. And in that moment, all that mattered to me were those valuable tears in my mom’s eyes.
As I mentioned, I was into content writing in my graduation years and I believe the most powerful medium to convey anything is stories. From my very preparation days, I wanted to write stories at InsideIIM and I can’t tell how happy I feel today for having written my own story. It’s a dream because with all the struggles, my preparation journey is my love story!
I am still highly passionate about travel and went to Uttarakhand, Indonesia, and Rajasthan after joining MDI Gurgaon and I regularly blog about my travel journeys at www.thewandergirl.in and at my travel page on Instagram. Of course, the frequency has reduced for something much more but I have learnt how to not compromise on my dreams and passion for materialistic things in life. Hopefully, this learning will take me to many more places in the future days! You can contact me for any travel tips and I would be happy to help.