In all my years of existence, the Indian dream is one I’ve failed and whether or not I know you, you are allowed to judge me based on that fact. The Indian Dream, if you are blissfully oblivious, is the fact that most successful and lucrative careers in India come out of incubation centres known as IITs (which more often than not requires traumatic, painful maternity wards for the actual birth) so every parent wishes for his children the success that going to an IIT entitles them to. There’s a whole thriving and cut throat industry for entry into these incubation centres which creates a suitable environment for the foetus to grow strong (if you’re already healthy and preferably already crawling and talking) and provide little to no care to the foetus that may have some complications in the birthing process, leaving them weaker and flailing when they need to enter the competition for the incubators.
Bad, uncomfortable analogies aside, let me tell you how to NOT get into an IIT because if anything, I learned from the coaching centre I chose to go to and how I spent the past 2 years of my life, it’s this.
- GET FREAKED OUT BY THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION BEFORE YOU EVEN BEGIN TO LEARN
This is the most frightening aspect of the competition into the IITs. I remember the first day I went for coaching, there was group of guys in the last benches that would answer questions based on concepts I had never heard of before in my life- before the question was posed to the class completely. I was impressed at first but this began to happen in every single class for every single subject (it got so annoying I can’t even find it funny to date how desperate they were to show off) and this kept me from even trying to understand some concepts because I was disheartened within a single month of the coaching. I had only 23 months left to fail. Yay!
So I was freaked out by people that got into the top 100 ranks in a test that ranks 1000 times that number and tests 10 times that number. The competition is excellent, no doubt, but it’s not healthy competition at any stage– you need to ignore this fact and feel dumb for 24 months to fail to get into the IITs.
2 BELIEVE THAT EXPECTATIONS ARE ALWAYS FAIR AND WARRANTED
So I had a very good year of studying before the coaching centre era and the Indian system had expectations even then which I met (what a terrible twist of fate) so I felt more pressure to perform in these tests and every random stranger that knew of my previous “success” would tell my parents in an offhand manner that IIT entrance tests would be a cakewalk for me. My own “success” was used against me time and time again and I bought into the expectations which did no good to my sliding test scores in the coaching centres. You will begin to fear tests, but more importantly the results that show your entire scorecard to anybody else- never will it strike you that the results were not absolute, just indicative and could be improved, nor that studying can somehow improve your experience of the test and the result. The expectations will kill your will to perform or meet your parent’s eyes or meet your sir’s when they wish to know your scores with reference to that of the toppers’. You don’t question the validity of the expectations because you know you’re failing so to what extent you’re failing is immaterial, isn’t it? You have successfully cleared another milestone in not clearing the IIT entrances (hereafter just called JEE because IIT is an irritating acronym after a while).
3.NEVER POSE YOUR DOUBTS IN AND EVEN AFTER CLASS BECAUSE IT IS SHOWING YOUR WEAKNESS AND YOU HAVE TOO MUCH PRIDE
This might be my personal Achilles’ heel that led to my not clearing the JEEs (but the whole journey for me was me just walking with my Achilles’ heel exposed.) but that doesn’t mean you can’t take away something from this. Failure is universal, you see? I never asked anybody my doubts. I felt academically challenged- this was the first time I couldn’t grasp anything I needed to- and I didn’t know who to ask for help if I deserved it. I was stuck on a cloud of my own ego and was afraid to get off it- what if the sir’s though I was an idiot? What if my doubts were so self explanatory that I’d be deemed unfit for writing the JEE? What if the entire staff thought of me as a foolish kid with foolish dreams? I didn’t know that having doubts didn’t translate to my own faults or make me less of a person, but I kept up the facade of never having any doubts. I felt intimidated by the level of the doubts the smartasses of my batch would have. If you ever have any doubts and don’t feel you’re entitled to ask your own teachers or friends (I didn’t have any at that point) even though that’s what their jobs are, you’re one step closer to failing the Indian dream.
- DO NOT CREATE SUPPORT SYSTEMS YOU CAN ACTUALLY RELY ON
Not being in similarly inclined or more ambitious friends’ circle can be a serious disadvantage in the JEE clearing process because there’s a ton of learning you can do from your friends’ mistakes and their strong subjects. If you don’t have that, you should definitely not keep good relations with your teachers because apart from giving you good knowledge, they are capable of good advice otherwise also. Most of them are actually quite cool too, so they can make nerdy jokes and your experience better so you need to be an aloof, frigid prick with no faculty of speech to fail in life and the JEE, because that’s what most of the JEE aspirants are- JEE failures. (I wonder why we don’t have a club for people like us, it’ll create records.)
Even excluding the people in your coaching class, your parents, that ‘bhaiyya’ in your neighbourhood that got into an IIT you can ask for advice, the friends that don’t understand your struggles because they’re Commerce students- can all form a system that keeps your hopes up and spirits high and motivation on point. Investing in neither of these relationships is one more step you can take to be like me( join the club!).
- DISTRACT YOURSELF WHEN YOU FIND THE WILL TO STUDY SO AS TO NEVER BE IN THREAT OF ACTUALLY MAKING IT IN.
I did this, obviously and you should too, if you can’t be bothered to get into an IIT except in public and on the surface- it’s a lot of fun and gives you stealth training that is unparalleled in any spy school (I suppose, or they’d never get caught and be labelled as spies from X country). It’s a special joy to read late into the nights when you have a 7am class or better yet, an exam. It’s a weird thrill to waste hours of your day in the study leave and then struggle to complete the quota of your portion for the day only to promptly feel sleepy and fall asleep on the right books so your family thinks you’re exhausted from hours of studying. (It’s called guilt, by the way, that feeling.) Never study enough to actually know an entire chapter or you’re likely to be able to solve it in the exam! Find something- news, politics in the Pacific islands, philosophical questions that make you question your life, old hobbies, anything! How else will you ever be a good enough JEE failure?
These are enough and more reasons to not clear the entrances and if done with sufficient perseverance, you (surely) can fail too! (T&C apply).
(Views expressed in this are meant to be ironic and mostly regret filled, do not use this guide if you want to succeed in life. Also, most of these opinions come from the experiences I had once and are not indicative of the person I am now.)