Selection by Union Public Service Commission and Appointment by President is what IAS|IPS aspirant dreams about, either sleeping or not. This prestigious institution and its offerings draw lakhs of youth towards the preparation of IAS Examination and into various coaching centers in Chandigarh and other metropolitan cities. Today we will be revealing the life of a UPSC Aspirant. His /her daily routine, how he/she keeps herself motivated, what makes them go on even after failures, and what should be the right attitude to face such an arduous journey.
The start is the most and the only easiest thing to do in preparation of civil services. Once aspirant makes up his/her mind and put forward the decision he/she starts getting a glimpse of the respect that he/she craves in services. Parents take proud in announcing that their daughter or son is preparing for IAS. Friends start to see you differently etc. All this creates an inner proud feeling of being part of something important. But as mentioned above, this is the only easy thing in UPSC and feeling associated with it starts fading very soon.
A day in the life of an aspirant will revolve around UPSC and UPSC only. His/her focus right from the start would be to read the Newspaper, do the topics already selected the previous day, go to Coaching classes, revise, etc. Meals become complementary rather than compulsions and spending leisure time becomes more of a burden than to remove it. Ask a Serious UPSC aspirant for a movie and see his/her reaction. It’s like you have asked for his/her kidneys. Tea Vendors (Chaiwala) either around PG’s or coaching center becomes his best friend and their favorite hangout place. Chaiwala will have a long Udhar against him of all the chairs and Mathis he has eaten. Also, another change that is witnessed in the Aspirant community is that they turn into nocturnal creatures. They start their day late and end up studying till late nights. For many, this is the best way to stay away from the distracting social circle they have. Every day is like a mission for an aspirant where continuous strategic decisions are taken. It may be as small as to get a haircut or trim a beard (if you see most guys preparing, you will witness they definitely have an issue here), to as big as changing the PG or coaching center. For them, it is the race against time. Such high tensions and the stressed environment are intensified by the exam dates and peer pressure.
To cope with such situations Students take up a variety of measures, some good and some bad. For instance, many students take up what is called ‘Bureaucrat recreation’. For instance light badminton sessions, Morning walks (Generally late in mornings), yoga and meditation etc. Others would take up the route of Cigarettes and liquor to keep their stress levels down. I personally knew an aspirant (who is in services now) who used to watch at least one movie in a week. He would go to a theatre alone just to see the crowd (I won’t blame him, you won’t see a fancy crowd in your preparation circles). In my preparation days, we used to play football every evening for 1 hour at least. This helped me to remain calm and focused during my IAS coaching in Chandigarh.
One thing that goes for a toss when you start preparing for services is your diet. You will eat at odd hours and eat whatever is convenient rather than what is healthy. Also, you will guzzle large amounts of tea or coffee. Many with Genetic superiority can withstand such onslaught but others generally develop Constipation problems and worse gastrointestinal issues.
Another aspect of Aspirant’s life is the dwelling he lives in. I am using the word dwelling and not the house as I know most of the aspirants are living in PGs or rental rooms near coaching centers and they can by no means be said as home. The dwelling of an aspirant is a mess. You will find 70% of the area covered with Books and rest with other belongings including the person himself.
All these hardships for an exam, for a job, the question that comes to one’s mind is;
Is it worth it?
Now let me tell you it is. These struggles help an aspirant to become a man of great character. It humbles him/her. Makes him/her appreciate small happiness in life and absorb even the biggest of the losses. This process brings a true Civil servant out of a person. So I feel it is something that is part of your journey to becoming a Civil servant and it is these moments of hardships when remembered later in life, brings tears of joy and smile on your face.
However, during my experience as an aspirant, I have outlined few principles and practices which helped me not only stay healthy and focus but also make sure I don’t lose my social self and end up as an isolate. These are few of the things, which helped me out;
1. I tried being a Morning person
Now many of the aspirant community will swear by that Night is the most effective time to study. But I would disagree. We are not nocturnal creatures. Our biological and metabolic processes work maximum during the daytime. Night time is for rest and recuperation. We can’t and shouldn’t change our biological clocks. I have personally noted that changing morning routine made me duller and I could recall less information. While waking up early in morning and sleeping early gave me a better analytical edge.
2. Having a healthy dietary schedule
Now, this is very difficult for aspirants to do. Practically even I could not adhere to all the time. So I made sure that the first meal of the day (Breakfast) is healthy and nutritious. I used to have 3 boiled eggs and a Glass of milk with oats. Couldn’t emphasize more on how this will alter your energy levels for good.
3. Watching a Movie or meeting friends every weekend
Watching a movie or going out with friends on weekends also helped me relieve my stress especially during the exam days. If I would not go out, I would generally call some friends over and have a good time. Maybe a game of Soccer or Cricket or just healthy and fun conversation with people I like to be with.
4. Try to remain physically active
It came naturally to me as I was a state level athlete. I played soccer almost every day for an hour. It refreshed me like anything. I recommend that aspirants should do some physical exercise in the evenings or mornings. Get that heart rate up, you have got to be healthy to serve the nation.
5. Finally, belief in yourself
Try to remain optimistic in life. Try to see the bright side of everything. I know it is easier said than done, but that is the way of life. The sooner you learn this the better you will do in life. The pessimistic approach will not only destroy your confidence but also make you the ‘unwanted one’ in your groups. I always tried this trick, whenever I felt down and negative, I closed my eyes for 10 seconds and focused on the best part of what I’m doing. And within seconds I would find myself moving towards positive side again.
Combination of these things will definitely help Aspirants in not only clearing the Civil service exam but Exam of Life too. If you are a civil services aspirant and you are reading this, I hope these tricks and tips will help you out in your path towards your goal. Have a great Journey because that is what is going to matter.