An Open Letter To A Younger Me – From An IIM Grad To An MBA Aspirant
Hey buddy, how are you?
Now that only a few days are remaining before CAT, how are those nerves holding up? Can you feel the exhilaration? This is what it feels like to be truly alive.
As scary, ambiguous and uncertain life may seem right now, let me tell you that things figure themselves out. A lot of my friends, like me, ended up clearing CAT and many people couldn’t. But it’s not like those who cleared CAT are millionaire CEOs enjoying life while the others are on the streets, struggling to make ends meet.
Life keeps throwing challenges at you, what matters is not winning but the will to win. Many people who couldn’t clear CAT have since then worked hard in life and just like you, achieved some level of peace, contentment and success.
So what would I have loved to know, 5 year ago, when I faced CAT for the first time?
1. It’s possible: Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to a solution. We are so much stronger than we imagine, and belief is one of the most valiant and long-lived human characteristics.
2. Fuel for the fire: Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end. Before taking CAT, I want you to bring back everything that has ever hurt you, all the struggles you have been through, store all of that raw energy inside you and use it to drive yourself during CAT.
3. The warrior within: Whatever you are – male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy-all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.
Remember that everyone has the fire, but the champions know when to ignite the spark. What separates the men from the boys is the ability to perform on the day when it matters the most.
4. Failure is your friend, don’t be afraid of it: Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is a delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.
I have learned more in my life whenever I have failed rather when I succeeded at something. The unique experience of failing to score good percentiles in so many mocks taught me the value of perseverance. This ability to bounce back after failures (acquired by giving TIME mocks) is something that I take great pride in, even to this day.
5. What is CAT? CAT is Nadal to your Federer, Joe Frazier to your Muhammad Ali and Apollo Creed to your Rocky Balboa. It is your greatest enemy and also the greatest source of your inspiration.
Everyone at some point in their life has experienced a moment where they were the underdog. Where the odds were stacked against them, where they had to fight through never-ending struggle, where they were expected to be beaten and quit. Our individual battles may be different, but collectively we are all fighting the same underdog fight and the stronger your opponent is, the stronger you will be forced to become.
The story of Beethoven:
Beethoven was deaf. He was a famous composer, the top pianist in Europe when he was young. But then one day, maybe because of illness, he started to go deaf. In the end, he couldn’t hear a thing. Pretty rough to be a composer who can’t hear.
A deaf composer’s like a cook who’s lost his sense of taste. A frog that’s lost its webbed feet. A truck driver with his license revoked. That would throw anybody in a loop, don’t you think? But Beethoven didn’t let it get to him. Sure, he must have been a little depressed at first, but he didn’t let misfortune get him down. It was like, Problem? What problem? He composed more than ever and came up with better music than anything.
Coming back to the moment…
In the end, it’s not about looking at a piece of paper and saying that I have done this, I have scored that. It’s about experiencing all those emotions, be it nerves, excitement or the possibility of anything happening. Win or lose, these emotions, this time will stay with you forever.
So go ahead and face your day with destiny.