I Became Mentally Free The Day I Gave Up My MBA Dream

10th Class: Ek saal aur pad lo life set ho jayegi (Just study for one more year the life will be set)

11th Class: Do saal aur bas, phir toh life pura set hai  (Your life will be set if you study for 2 years)

College Life: Chaar saal aur bas, acha CG lau aur phir toh life set hai (Study for four more years to get a good CG, then your life will be set)

I am sure most of our parents have said these lines to us. And the worst part is that this phrase of “Life set ho jayegi”  never ends. After college, we again burn the midnight oil either in the final year or with a job for CAT or IAS. But unfortunately, still, the settling down in life does not end and goes on till you find your life partner. The “Life set ho jayegi” is one of the major myth that the Indian parents keep telling and we tend to believe and follow it. But in this fast pacing life where there is a list of 20 under 20 on yourstory.com, kids under 10 learn computers and the constant showcase of achievements in social media mainly for validations among the youth, all these factors only make us reach our goal of settling down in life faster but hardly in the right direction. We often tend to makes our wants our needs. We tend to succumb to the expectations of our peers, friends, parents and society.  There is a saying which goes by “Heart knows today what the mind knows tomorrow”. The problem is the voice of the heart reaches the mind but the mind echoes what we want to hear. This is what happened to me and I am still struggling to hear the voice of my heart.

For me, my MBA craze began in Ahmedabad during my 9th Grade where my school (Kendriya Vidyalaya S.A.C) was just opposite IIM Ahmedabad. In class 11th, I took up Science in the hope of taking up Engineering. And then went on to take engineering BITS Goa and maintained a CG above 8, keeping in mind the importance of CG for IIMs. Hence, every choice I made I molded myself to fit into MBA profile. I read more of management related books and took up an internship in a Digital Advertising Startup. And then I gave CAT twice. Each time with more disastrous result than the previous one. And the one where I did manage to get an interview call, I felt like Ellen in the coming out episode of her TV series, where it felt difficult to be yourself as each question passes by.  Every fifth line we uttered was a manipulative lie to get in. This is where I failed and I guess I lacked one of the biggest traits of an MBA student, the power to convince by hook or by crook. Both the times, the more honest I was, I exposed myself to my weaknesses also and it made me realise that this field is not for me.

Then on 24th December 2016,  I took control of my life instead of sacrificing little pleasures in the name of CAT Preparation. I went on Jagriti Yatra, an ambitious train journey for 15 days across 8000kms in India with 500 energetic, enthusiastic and determined individuals, who I haven’t seen once in my life. We were supposed to do everything on the train. I was so comfortable with discomfort for the first time in my life and getting out of my comfort zone made me get a perspective on other professions and opportunities in life other than MBA/IAS or startup. That realisation actually changed my life. I started researching on YIF (Young India Fellowship) by Ashoka University on Liberal Studies for a year. Then there were many research courses at TISS. And my passion for films from a very little age made me currently pursue a PG Certification course on Media and Entertainment from MICA, while working in the hope of I could work in a production or media consulting firm which I always wanted to do in my heart rather than wait endlessly for the three letter word (MBA) every year and block your calendar from July to December for its preparation plus a month in January to formulate the convincing answers and mug up the GK and Indian economy questions.

This might feel like my rant for not getting into a b-school to a few of you but I am sure many of you might agree with my journey of how we mold ourselves to the individuals whom the interviews/family/society want us to be instead of being the one, whom we see in the mirror daily.  And hence I learned my biggest lesson which is rightly put by Mark Manson “The reason, not every dream should be pursued is because dreams never have negative repercussions. Reality does.” That’s why take a long hard look at what really is driving you towards your goal. The fact that I fantasised about was to have the respect and admiration that people get from their friends/family/ facebook statuses and check-ins after clearing IIM Interview and not go through the painful process of Interviews and aftermath of an MBA life which includes several corporate politics and long work hours which takes a toll on work-life balance. This thought made me free from the pressure that I have to go through this year. I didn’t want to feel like a Roadie who goes to every audition and say “I want to prove myself”. Once my Dad said, “When you are sure of your path, then there is no need for any validation from anyone“.  It’s okay to settle down in life a little later but make sure you do right instead of being fast. In other words, It’s better to be a Marathon runner than a sprinter in this rat race of life.

As David Foster Wallace wrote once, Some of the most heroic people in the world are those who toil silently through the monotony and boredom, who live lives of simple satisfaction and anonymous successes. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 




Ravjot Sachdeva

I love your article Amrutha! I am somewhat in the same boat as you..multiple attempt at CAT have resulted in me settling for a less than desired college this year! But unlike you, I am not 100% sure what I want to do if not CAT. So, I am going for marketing from a Tier 2 college this year and see if it helps me land in a creative field. But felt great to come across your article!

Amrutha Balachandran

Thank you so much Ravjot. I am so glad that you could relate to it. And I am sure sometimes you get the luck you deserve at some stage in your life at a later stage and that is completely okay. All the best Ravjot. I hope you get what your heart needs! 🙂


Brilliant! Its time we start living for ourselves and not for meeting the expectations of others…

Soham Bhowmik

I can relate to your article Amrutha.I am also somewhat similarly passionate towards movies and travelling and stuck in MBA preparation.I have still not been able to take the risk yet,always in the thoughts of parents and family.

Amrutha Balachandran

Hey Soham, I am so glad you could relate. You should take up the Media and Entertainment course from MICA if movies interest you. It’s quite good. Your Parents will be proud no matter what you choose, they just want you to be happy. And moreover, MBA doesn’t guarantee anything in life. Abhi nahi toh kabhi nahi !! All the best Soham 🙂

anirudh dalvi

Such an amazing article. An engineer from BITS Goa pursuing a course in media and entertainment is a welcome relief. I love films and I seriously want to do something in that field but right now I have the whole ‘gotta prepare for CAT again’ cause I didn’t take my last attempt seriously and haven’t landed up in a good college either. If you could tell something about the course you’re currently pursuing and how you made it to MICA, it’ll be of great help. Thank you 🙂

Amrutha Balachandran

Thank you so much, Anirudh. If you are really passionate about films, then Media and entertainment course is made for people like us. Currently, there are two courses in this field in India. One from MICA, which is an online course of 5 months and it is open for all and another one from SP Jain, which is open only for working professionals with more than 3 years work ex. MICA also has MBA which requires to you clear MICAT and then their GD / PI. The MBA program of theirs has more focus on Advertising and Marketing though than Media and Entertainment. All the best Anirudh. Let me know if you want to know anything else about the course. 🙂

Helly Shah

Hi Amrutha,
I too decide to continue my career as a software engineer.
It feels a relief to live life once again.
I am so glad there are people out there who think similar 🙂

Rahul Kulkarni

Hi Amrutha,

Thank you for the great read. I was a participant in JY 2015. I know how the Yatra feels, the enthusiasm, the energy and meeting individuals who are real life heroes. A year down the line, many in my batch have gone on to pursue either an MBA or a Management degree abroad.

The “life set hai” phrase is cliched. But, if someone has an MBA dream, I do not see reason why they shouldn’t pursue it. Many in my batch have taken up management education not in the hope of a corporate job but to learn. The learning that comes from an MBA can be applied to the field you’re passionate about.

At the same time, I’m really glad you’ve realised the path you’d like to pursue. Congratulations and all the best in you endeavor at MICA. Also, the YIF is a great course. We had a few Young India fellows in our batch. I’m hoping you get in there as well.


Amrutha Balachandran

Hey Rahul,
Thank you so much for taking your time out and going through my article. Great to meet a Yatri here.

I totally agree with what you wrote. There are definitely people who take up MBA with a mindset to learn. I personally do know a lot of them. But it’s just that the society/friends etc give a lot of importance for the selection into an IIM than choosing any other less chosen path and the students hardly get an opportunity to look around for other options before they write CAT because they want to settle down fast. This can be seen from that fact that 2 lakhs people write CAT every year. During IIT days, we could at least blame the immaturity of the students at a young to think through. But while writing CAT, even though we have matured but the craze remains the same as IITs.

Shivam Negi

Hi Amrutha! I completely resonate with you on this. I admire for how long you had worked on your dreams. Your dedication right from your high school to your undergrad is just amazing. I have been thinking about CAT lately and also I was on the same thought- “what is my true purpose in life?” I really liked what your father about not seeking validation from anyone. I am glad that someone on InsideIIM.com spoke something different, other than preparation or life at IIMs. Thank you for writing your wonderful thoughts.


I cannot agree more on everytime I speak in an interview, I feel guilty of lying or exaggeration. It makes me cringe, but when I try to be blunt , nobody likes it.