“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- https://saumya711.wordpress.com/2018/05/05/newspapers-at-age-3/