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The Journey Of A Lifetime

“Safar suhana hai manzil se bhi”

You mean suffer? Surely? Because in that case, my manzil is just as suhana as the suffer!

Welcome to Mishita’s journey. Tumultuous, exciting, and at the same time wholesome!

This journey’s planning began around three years ago, when I was already disappointed with what I was doing. The fact that I was 18 and nothing “adult-like” was happening (excuse the pun) felt terrible. Why you ask? For all of the previous 17 years of my life, I had believed that I would miraculously solve ALL of my issues when I turn 18. Look at me now, 21; and if anything, I have managed to compound my troubles (for all the people wondering, the rates were very attractive).

Not digressing further, the last 12 months to me have been the most painstakingly enlightening months of my life. I had a dream, a bag full of optimism and a pocket full of anxiety. They say that FOMO is the only constant of the MBA life. By those accounts, I had already been living it. When I started my coaching, I saw hundreds of faces in the metro, on the roads, in the classes, and they had a collective wish (counting their parents’ as their wish here), and this was in pre-covid times. I saw working people slog their weekdays and weekends away with equal rigor, saw friends do society work, attend classes, then slog, and felt acutely aware of how these people would be up against me. For that one coveted seat, a thousand egos would have to be martyred; but little did I know that the ego I had would be saved for the last.

I will be honest: I was bad at QA and bad at DILR. Quantitative aptitude was still a little bearable but DILR made me cry. And it did. Throughout my journey, I have seen multiple 0s, some negative scores, a plethora single digit scores. Quant was just a tad bit better, but it wasn’t sunny. Mocks. They are called mocks for a reason. They MOCK you. And boy are they good! Although now I attribute my success to mocks, I would say something: never let a mock define you. Because in my last mock, I had 86.45%ile.

Cut to D-day. Last slot. I have many fears, a pocket full of anxiety, and I would punch anyone (okay only mildly lambast) who came up to me and told me to ‘live, laugh, love’. People had been making assumptions and guesses about all types of questions that would be found in the paper and rating the previous slots while I was busy peeing. Yes! Peeing. Why? Anxiety. That Delhi day of 29th November 2020 was a chilly day, and the tension in the air was heavy. I have vague memories of that day, but I remember seeing the previous slot’s children cry, seeing my slot’s children (yes children) cry, then discussing it with my mom on the way back home and trying to cry. She asked if I would get a 99%ile and I said yeah totally (spoiler alert: I never even crossed 96 in my mocks).

The answer key came out late, and after the exam I spent my time obsessing about the percentile spread. I did it diligently without fail, and it even became a part of my personality. I have a habit. I don’t celebrate before the good news knocks. And so I waited for the fateful day of result declaration, when I finally ordered donuts and broke the news. I had 99.44 (which is actually low by Joka standards but what can a girl do).

Now I had a new monster. The call monster. Kal. Try saying call in hindi without the ‘o’ sound. Totally not racist. I think I waited around a month before getting to know I had a Joka call (it was the last call released by a main IIM). I had heard about Joka culture. But I had also heard the adage: don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

I was right about it, because it so happened that IIM Calcutta was going to be my first interview. Like first proper interview ever! And first of the season, first from an IIM, I felt severely underprepared. I was to be judged on day 1, slot 1. I think someone from the MBA admissions office called to ask me to fill my form, since I was day 1 and I still hadn’t submitted it. There were only about 6 days which I spent either panicking or revising. I holed up in my room, tried to absorb as much as I could, and panicked only a little. I had made it so far, what could possibly go wrong?

Potentially, a lot of things CAN go wrong. They didn’t, however. The panel was jovial, their questions were not entirely out of the blue (as warned by several Quora writers), and even in an online setting I could feel the warmth of the professors. I had to go to Joka (also because it was my best call, but that is a secret between you and I!).

The interview season was long and dreary. It wasn’t monotonous, however. And two interviews were never the same. But that period was also fairly uneventful, until my father caught the ‘rona'.

Now my father, he has a transferable job. So he was stationed elsewhere. That place had been reporting crazy numbers. My entire family was worried. I still had a few interviews to go. And those times were the worst I have ever been through in my life. Not being near your loved ones, not being able to care for them, but thankfully he was looked after by his friends there. Around 5 days in, my father was hospitalized. The oxygen didn’t go up. It kept tanking each day. We sought out sources to get hold of Remdesivir, and in those moments I had a lot of questions, about life. I would say that this very personal set of events were the most defining part of my journey to Joka because they gave me clarity. I knew what I had to do.

He got fit and got discharged in a few days time, and that was when the results bell rang.

And it was the worst bell, I had ever heard. I faced rejections on top of rejections, even from places that I had hopes from. I was shattered, sleepless, and in denial of the possibility of belling the CAT again. You see, CAT is really sly. You can’t master the tricks of this trade so easily. The days kept going by… until the day finally came! When they told us they’d announce the results that very day, but they didn’t. IIM Calcutta ER Cell was supportive but our anxieties were off the charts.

The next day was spent scrolling Telegram, refreshing links, learning to hack sites (yes I did google that) and waiting. There’s no point in having so much suspense now, you know I made it. I did it. It was bliss. It felt like all the failures were worth it, every single negative score, every wrong interview answer was justified now.

And that’s why I say. Suffer suhana hai manzil jaise hi!

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