4 years of going nowhere – My journey with CAT

In the past couple of months, I’ve dabbled with a lot of stuff to do on weekends. Standup comedy, Improv, going to Toastmasters, meeting old friends here in Bangalore, going through pickup books and videos, trying to write on my blog, etc. And to be honest I am struggling on all of them. This was not the case until December. My weekends were quite sorted then.

For the uninitiated or any foreign audiences (Yeah, I am optimistic), Common Aptitude test or CAT is an exam conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management(IIM’s) to select students for their PGDM(or MBA) programmes. They are conducting this exam since 1950 but I’ve been giving this exam since 2015. It’s 2019 now.

Every year when I attend the CAT workshops by any coaching class, they have this constant itch to ask “Who is giving the exam for the first time?” A lot of hands go up. They ask for the students giving the 2nd time. Plenty of hands go up. It gradually decreases until they ask how many are giving it for the 5th time. No one has raised a hand in my 4 years of experience. Needless to say, I’ve raised my hands in all 4 of the instances.

Side note: You know the feeling when the words that are being typed out don’t exactly convey the thoughts and the emotions you are going through at the moment. I am living that feeling right now.

I won’t go into the details as to what I did in the years, how much I scored, what happened in the interviews, etc. That’s all noise now. Its just numbers.

I am more than a number.

I know I can’t just sit here and crib about the interviews or that my Quant prep was not up to the mark. But things didn’t turn out the way I’d expected. There was this thing with the interviews. Especially this year when I went for my MICA interview, I was completely in my head. I thought I’d just impress the interviewers with my perseverance stories and approach to job search. That is a very bad attitude to take to an interview because then I put the control in someone else’s hand and eventually even blame them for not selecting me. Then the interview becomes a means to an end(the selection).

But that’s it. I have decided to follow the path that has worked the best for me. As the intro para said, I am trying all the things that I was afraid to do but was supposed to do. I am also looking for a job as a copywriter in a mainline ad agency and might have to start fresh as an Intern. Not only because it sounds adventurous but because I don’t have any other option.

It’s getting emotional for me now, but this journey has changed me a lot, in hindsight. Getting the motivation to leave Chemical Engg for IT and then leaving IT for Advertising came from the lure of living with people who’ll improve my personality and help me in cracking the interviews (Yes, I had a narrow view of the world, I still do).

In the eyes of the world, I might be a failure in the conventional sense. I mean, c’mon, how many guys that you know of have failed in 1 exam 4 times. Yes, I’ve seen friends from 2015/16 do an MBA and get 15+ lakh “CTC” and supposedly the feeling of making it in life. I’ve also seen friends and acquaintances from 2015/16/17 do an MBA and then get an internship and then ask if they can get a job at the company I am working at right now. People have left the country to make it in the USA while some have left the high rises of Mumbai and found their calling in rural.

I, for one, gathered the courage to say no to my IT job and go where I think I belong to, Advertising.

Wow, I feel a lot better and lighter writing this. I know I’ll be a different person in the coming years with new experiences and meetings but this moment right now and the culmination of all the failures, learnings and occasional rumination on them does make me happy.

The struggle is still there, but as Sahir Ludhianvi wrote,

Gham Aur Khushi Mein Farq Na Mehsoos Ho Jahan
Main Dil Ko Us Muqaam Pe Laata Chala Gaya

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhaata Chala Gaya
Har Fikar Ko Dhein Mein Udata Chala Gaya

I am still trying to solve the puzzle, but I am loving the fact that I get to work on the puzzle. I know you might not be having the best days of your life right now but hold on to yourself, talk to someone who loves you and if you want, why not show me some love?