- Shounak Sengupta
10th March 2021. Just another normal day. Well, if you consider the circumstances of living under constant fear, and sacrificing one’s mental health as normal.
Relax, this is not just another ‘Impact of corona on the millennial mind’-esque article.
Have you ever wondered how the smallest of things could instantly send you spiraling- triggering self-doubt and an overbearing concern to answer life’s serious questions?
Surely, I am no exception. In my case, all it took was just one email.
It was just another normal day; until I heard the notification beep.
‘Final Shortlist for MBA 2021-23’, read the subject.
This was it, I thought. If I get shortlisted in this institute, the rest of my life could be spent figuring out what is wrong with Arsenal’s tactics, how did Robert Downey Jr. pull off his role in Tropic Thunder, and the secrets to the Queen’s skincare routine.
‘The questions’ we all want the answers to, you know.
It took months of struggling with complex polynomials and logarithms, going through the painfully difficult mocks, nerve-wracking attempting multiple entrance exams, finally getting an RT-PCR, and giving my all in the last GEPI stages in person (Yes, you read that right) to get to this situation.
Yet all it took was one email to discredit the entire thing.
“Apologies, you have not been shortlisted for our prestigious programme…”
Loving the tone-deafness. Congratulations on taking the least effort to destroy someone’s heart.
“...However, this does not reflect on your capabilities in any way.”
I wish it would have. Then I would have been able to accept that ‘my capabilities’ are not enough for this institute, and instead focused on preparing something ‘that was to my level’.
But again, you chose to be ambiguous. And trust me, this quite helped my self-confidence.
Sarcasm aside, yes. I was insecure about the selected candidates.
Insecure of all the ones who got placed.
Hell, I was even insecure of those ‘family business successors’ in college.
It called for an immediate self-pity session. I wallowed in my stew of contrition as I stared at the laptop screen with sheer disbelief.
A constant state of rewinding and analysing the past year's events.
It was truly a difficult time. It was exhaustive, trying to find things on which I could contrarily shift my blame towards.
‘Oh, the coaching was not up to the mark’
‘Too much pressure from the other internships’
‘The interviewer asked me difficult questions"
All of these things kept springing up, but ultimately I was not able to escape the fact that maybe I did not deserve getting a seat, or I was not capable enough.
I wanted to get out of feeling this way. Surprisingly, feeling sorry for yourself does not exactly do wonders for you.
But what choice did I have? It's not that I could have told the others. I would much rather beat myself up than garnering sympathy from people, that’s for sure.
But what was it about this numbing emotion that made it this hurtful?
Maybe it's strange addictive nature? It’s as if by hurting yourself, you are now able to justify everything that is going wrong for you. Why bother introspecting your actions, coming up with insightful conclusions when you can call yourself an incapable idiot? Seems less of an effort right?
Or maybe my disability to digest the fact that I was not alone in this. My ‘struggle’ (for lack of a better word) was not unique. There was absolutely nothing different that I was feeling, which someone has never experienced.
Hahaha, Insecurity seems to be a communist. It acts upon all people irrespective of their social strata. The great leveler of society.
A rural-dweller can be insecure about a person’s employment in a big city.
That person, who is a businessman’s driver, could be insecure about the daughter’s ‘privileged lifestyle’.
She could be riddled with low self-esteem, and in turn, craved to be like one of the school’s popular figures.
And finally, these individuals after passing their boards could be envious of the toppers, whose marks take them to their desired colleges.
And the chain continues.
Ideally, blanket statements such as ‘normalise insecurity in society’ can be passed. Why not? Clearly, everyone faces it. Is the insecurity in an employee rising due to a star performer any different from a mother’s doubt of a good parenting job?
Unfortunately, that is not the current scenario. At least not to my lenses.
You probably don’t like where this article is heading. I don’t blame you. Who wants to hear a person crying out loud about some stupid college admission?
Fair enough. So how do I stop?
Maybe keep my chin up. Maybe strive to continue working hard.
Or maybe remain hopeful and look towards the future.
Any of these would be your guess right?
Actually, no. All it took for me to snap out of this, was a simple realisation. This was not my first time facing failure. Neither will it be my last. I hate to be a philosopher here, but isn’t that the purpose of life? To keep failing, and then to stand up against the odds?
Yes, I get it. Big words coming from the loser here. But now as I look back, this experience was somehow beneficial. Trust me, securing the admission wouldn’t have helped me in totally avoiding these insecurities. They were bound to come up, just like in any other individual.
So I guess it is good to feel this at an earlier stage of life.
Look, solving the Insecurity Conundrum was never easy. It takes time, patience, and quite a bit of emotional pain to build a thick skin. I do not appreciate the confrontations I had to have with myself, but it is a testament to the fact that now I have an idea of how to deal with myself. Funnily, I feel a bit closer to the pessimist in me.
I would be lying if I said that I was completely over this debacle, and have a strong focus on my future endeavors. But the least I could do is to try. And that applies to you as well!
Spoiler Alert: The struggle with this conundrum is destined to continue throughout your life.
It is going to be there to drag you down, further mock, and demotivate you. But it is up to you to fight against it, and remember: you are not the only warrior in this internal battle.
Personally, I am not a big fan of motivational thoughts. But now, I am starting to see some truth in the ‘create your own success story’ narrative. In theatre, I was always intrigued with the concept of crisis- The turning point of the story, where the protagonist faces challenges. His further struggle with the same creates the most interesting and memorable part of any script.
Maybe that is what it is. A crisis point. And the memorable section of my script is yet to come. Of course, it would not be a cakewalk. But I am interested to see how it goes (and who knows, the editor-in chiefs might allow you to post that as well)
With this, goodbye. I have some emails to delete (and a story to write).