Life as I know it, My UPSC Journey

Are human endeavours really limitless? UPSC Mains 2017: My Experience

I am still an optimist, but an optimist standing on the top of a hill with a nasty storm blowing in my face, hanging on to a fence.”

Most of my friends and family members describe me as an unwavering optimist. I concur with them. Not more than a month ago, while writing my UPSC Mains 2017 examination, my optimism was tested in the toughest manner possible.

I fell violently sick after having spent months preparing for the ‘mother-of-all-examinations’. First, my right arm suffered a muscle spasm, the pain of which extended all the way from my neck to my wrist. I was unable to even write with a pen. All types of painkillers were taken, yet nothing worked. I was given physiotherapy– electric shock treatment and hot paraffin masks. Luckily, the night before my essay examination I took one of the most potent painkillers and my pain subsided.

Just as my pain subsided, my body started turning feverish. I slept for barely 3 hours in the night, went to write my essay exam, and by the time I reached home, I had 102 degrees fever. All my plans for revising for the GS papers came to a naught. I was struggling in my bed, unable to get up. I was given IV drips as my fever climbed to 104 degrees. Everyone in my family feared if I will be able to get up in the morning and write my exams, but somehow, I went and wrote the exams.

In between the GS papers i.e. during the lunch break, I was given IV drip in my car- an experience which was extremely uncomfortable. The exhaustion along with the fever led me to almost faint while writing my GS2 exam. Dairy milk came to the rescue- I had to eat a whole bar quickly to get some energy and continue writing the exam somehow. All my exams went in this manner- I was unable to revise properly, unable to write properly. Strangely enough, my fever subsided the evening Mains 2017 ended.

This experience made me question- are human endeavours really limitless? I had put in everything I had to prepare for the exams, yet when the it was my turn to perform, my own body turned against me. The feeling of powerlessness over your own body just cannot be described. It is challenged my optimism, but I hanged on to whatever strength I had in me. Perhaps if not for my efforts over the previous months, I would not have been able to write anything in the exam. But, despite all my efforts, I could not perform the way I wanted to.

My lesson from my painful experience was that our efforts can only help us to a certain extent in realising our goals. The rest depends on the right timing and the right circumstances- which by large we cannot control. While estimating our capabilities, one must never forget how small we actually are in the cosmic order of the universe. Our insignificance compared to the rest of the universe inherently limits our endeavours. And in these circumstances, being optimistic always helps.

PS: for those coming from the Insights post-


137 thoughts on “Are human endeavours really limitless? UPSC Mains 2017: My Experience”

  1. What a journey!! Thanks Saumya mam for sharing your experience it’s inspiring and insightful. Its motivating and humbling. You are already making diffrence to millions through your story, thanks for the positivity.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mam..Thank u for sharing yr whole journey..It gives me so much enthusiasm & motivation..Thanks a lot..Stay blessed mam🙏


  2. Hello ma’am!
    I watched a lot of topper talks..and I believe you have to be my ideal whilst I prepare for UPSC car 2019…I graduated this year…and will soon plunge into UPSC prep…but one thing I wanna ask is no topper has described their month wise strategy until pt….so it would help me immensely Since you are someone I look up to…if you discuss a rough outline of your monthwise strategy to crack prelims 😊 thankyou and heartily congratulations ❤


    1. Hello ma’am!
      I watched a lot of topper talks..and I believe you have to be my ideal whilst I prepare for UPSC cse 2019…I graduated this year…and will soon plunge into UPSC prep…but one thing I wanna ask is no topper has described their month wise strategy until PT….so it would help me immensely Since you are someone I look up to…if you discuss a rough outline of your monthwise strategy to crack prelims 😊 thankyou and i heartily congratulate you on your achievement❤


    2. thank you. rough outline when I started preparing on 19 feb 2017 was this:
      finish all core static books by march plus daily The Hindu reading
      april- vision monthly magazines, other subsidiary sources, joined insights online test series
      may, june- current affairs plus revise everything covered, practice test papers


  3. Dear mam, ‘Situation happens situations last, what remains is just a true experience and then endings make it beautiful.’ I won’t categorize you by calling an inspiration, A person like you is a Forever Star who will always signify, where THE NORTH EXISTS. Thanks a lot………….


  4. But still after seeing your score, it is difficult to believe that the candidate who secured the success in 1st attempt has actually gone through such pains.


  5. Very inspiring and honest struggle against all odds mam,but I want to ask did you really on online classes like neo stencils for preparation or you joined any coaching classes?


  6. Congrats madam …
    i have some quiry i join some classes in Delhi for Upsc preparation so 6 to 7 hrs gone in the classes and after that some time is remain i spend for the making notes of these so there is less time for the reading of extra ( STD BOOKS) so to what prefer or how to give priority to what work i can’t understand please if u help…..thnxx madm..


  7. Hi Mam, Firstly congratulations on your rank. I feel I have a very poor reading comprehension. It takes me lot of time to read and comprehend books. I am giving CSE 2019. Do you have any suggestions to help me cope with this?


  8. Well I am mighty inspired by your story. Though I am not an IAS aspirant, I am a traveller of same boat who want to join civil service of Pakistan through CSS.. I am really availing myself of your experience mam..


  9. Thank you Soumya Ma’am for your inspiring words. I have been battling with depression for many years and just when I thought to end up living, somewhere this UPSC conspired with nature to enter my life and push me towards living for others. Today, 3 months into the preparation, I still get bogged down by the devils of depression, but when I read about Heroes like you, who faced even harsher conditions than most of us, I feel like getting up and trying again. Thank you again for this blog, and all the wonderful posts of yours. Feeling very overwhelmed on learning more about you than just being a Topper. Wish you tremendous strength and happiness in your future endeavors.


  10. Saumya Mam , I am very motivated by reading your story. Candidly writing , you have tremendous mental strength and immense self belief. I will pray for your good health and illustrious career.


  11. the qoute of ‘ hundred not a number, have motivated yu’, but your whole cse mains week journey is not only motivating me but also reflects what can be limit of human talent.


  12. Tough time makes one humble enough to understand the pain and failures of others. I hope that you carry this experience with you throughout your journey(of civil services). Tough time or good time, comes and goes but what stays with us is the experience and lessons of life.
    Good luck for your new beginning with the civil services.


  13. It fueled me ..lighted me… energised in the sense that let all the odds be against me I am gonna make it happen….
    Truely motivating..
    Thanks for all the inspiration and for other articles too those are also more helpful…
    Keep blogging. Thanks again


  14. hi saumya mam , i am so impressed by your way of achieving success . i read all your blogs, strategies . thanks . i am also PH3 candidate . you give boost to me to study more. my question is what type of hearing loss you had ? your strategy seems very inspirational .. i inspired a lot as i studied already in final year and attempted 2018 but could not qualify , so now great motive for next prelim and mains .. so tell me what type of hearing loss you had? and about DB range .. so i can relate my loss with you and yes your instagram photos n caption things also motive
    me like that i think that i should also select for LBSNAA ..


  15. Mam ur story inspired me .how u face the challenges my doubt is first for prelims we must how to prepare ncert s. And how to learn csat


  16. one work . Amazing. it carnages my self doubt. Tells me how adversity can bring the best in you. Hats off. Wish you meet you in person one day.


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