Ever since childhood, the vision was clear—I wanted to be an IAS officer. I aspired to create a tangible impact, to serve my country and its people. In my mind's eye, I had imagined it countless times: me, sitting behind a desk, making important decisions that shaped lives.
Reality, however, proved to be a different ballgame. My small room turned into a fortress of books, charts, and flashcards. I followed a study regimen that would put even the strictest military academies to shame. 12 to 14 hours of study, no social life, and zero room for error.
It wasn't long before I started feeling the presence of an invisible foe. It was anxiety, creeping into my life uninvited, unannounced. During my mock exams, I’d feel my palms go sweaty, my mind fog up, and my heart race faster than a speeding train. Questions like "What if this doesn’t work out?" began haunting me.
My mother, God bless her, sensed that something was off. She suggested counseling. My skepticism was through the roof—how could talking to a stranger help? Still, to ease her concern, I decided to give online counseling a try.
I logged in hesitantly, half-expecting it to be a waste of time. The counsellor was a face on the screen but a presence much larger. As we talked, I found myself verbalizing thoughts I didn’t even know were bottled up inside me. The counselor told me something that shifted my perspective: "You are bigger than this exam, Arjun. Don't reduce yourself to just an aspirant, you are a human being with multiple facets."
The online counseling sessions that followed became my sanctuary. I learned stress management techniques, mindfulness exercises, and even how to inject a bit of fun into my draconian study schedule. Gradually, the debilitating anxiety began to fade. Failure, while still a possibility, didn’t seem like the end of the world anymore.
Something marvelous started happening. I found myself studying not just with the aim of succeeding but with a newfound love for the process itself. I was not only preparing for an exam but also equipping myself for life’s various challenges. The family dinners I used to avoid became a source of rejuvenation, and the perpetual cloud of tension that had once hovered over me seemed to lift.
So, here I am. The UPSC exam is still looming in the future, but it's not this monstrous entity anymore. It's a challenge, yes, but one that I am eager to face. The thrill I feel is no longer solely from the prospect of victory but from the journey itself.
I may not know the outcome yet, but the victory over my inner turmoil feels just as important, if not more. And while I continue to prepare, my heart swells with gratitude for that face on the screen, the counselor who helped me find myself amidst the chaos.
As I dive deeper into my UPSC preparation, I do so with enthusiasm, a positive mind, and above all, happiness. The journey to becoming an IAS officer is still long and uncertain, but one thing is clear—I am not just preparing for an exam; I am also preparing for life.
Through online counseling, I learned that sometimes the biggest battles we fight are within ourselves, and sometimes the greatest victories are the ones that nobody sees. So, I keep going, fueled not just by my ambition, but by the joy and peace I have found within myself. And that, for me, is a different kind of victory altogether.