Tomorrow is a big day; tomorrow I am going to join my new college, a totally new course and new people. Keeping this in mind, I would like to talk about something that has been a somewhat embarrassing achievement for me. About a year ago, the results for NEET 2016 were announced. This is a test students give to get an admission in medical colleges in India. It was the second time I was appearing for the test even though I had got an admission in a reputed college the previous year. The fact that I was appearing for this examination was an embarrassment for me. When I was preparing for the test the first time around, I had convinced myself that having a gap year would be a thing of shame and that pushed to perform better and better and get any college I wanted in the first go.

It was late January 2016, as we know now, I was severely depressed and the realization had dawned upon me that I would have to take a gap year if I wanted to take an admission in another college. I was embarrassed. I truly was. I was in a state of perpetual negative thinking and this realization didn’t help much. I didn’t know how I was going to appear a second time. How could I manage to study 2 years worth of stuff in about 3 months? What if the word got out and people started looking down upon me? I cannot stress it enough how embarrassed I was. My mind wasn’t really in the mood of helping me and I had to somehow reach a compromise with my brain to work together on this thing.

It was February now, I still hadn’t started, the exam was in 3 months and I was a person with no self confidence, motivation or desire to study this all over again. When I tried to take the books and registers out of the shelf to study, a wave of self pity and rage would take over me and leave me dysfunctional. Just looking at the books was like looking in a mirror of shame. I pushed myself, each day was a different struggle, at best I could study for about 1 hour straight in a day before my thoughts would start running away and I would lose focus. It was tough. I was running out of time and wasn’t getting any better. Somehow with time I managed to read all the books and registers just once again. Just to let you know, students are advised to read all the books and their notes about 10 or 12 times before appearing for the exam and I could hardly manage 1.

The day of the exam came. I had no confidence that I would manage to get anywhere close to my achievements from the previous year but I just knew one thing, “I am going to do the best I can.”The exam came and went; I thought it was an average attempt from me. I was prepared to be somewhere in the tens or hundreds of thousands in the merit list once the results are announced. My mental health wasn’t any better and this period of 3 or 4 months didn’t help much either.

The day of the results came. I didn’t want to know my result. I was scared, nervous and anxious. I didn’t want to see how far I had fallen in a matter of a few months. Sometime later, I overheard my parents talking about my rank and that is how I got to know it. I was in shock. There was no way it could have been this.

931.

Among about 1.3 million students, I was at 931. My ranks the previous year were 579 NEET and 448 AIIMS. This wasn’t so bad! In fact it was amazing!

I wouldn’t say I was elated at the time. I was just sort of “less embarrassed” than before. Today when I look back at that, I realize how big an achievement it was. NEET-UG is the 6th hardest competitive entrance exam in India and I had managed to pass it and that too with a not-so-bad rank. Given the condition my mind was in, the condition I was in, I don’t think I have ever given myself enough credit for that result. It has always been sort of a black hole until now. Now that I have made some peace with my past, I can finally see the one good thing I managed to achieve in the past 2 years. It is not an embarrassment for me anymore. It is an underrated achievement, but one that I can tell myself, I am proud of.