Exam stress caused by high-pressure tests – whether it is for the selection into IITs, IIMs, AIIMs, or into services like IAS, IPS etc – may turn highly depressing for many aspirants, if they do not have proper support mechanisms.
Aspirants attach a lot of things – happiness, family, career, marriage, finance, prestige, power – with the success in exams.
Part of the problem lies with parents, relatives, coaching institutes, and media who create an impression that life is doomed if one does not succeed in one particular exam.
As a result, unnecessary stress and pressure start building up, to an extent taking the lives of many aspirants who can’t bear any setback in the process.
The story of Jeevan
Jeevan was a 24-year-old boy, an engineering graduate, with a brilliant academic record. His ambition was to become an IAS officer. Anything less than ‘IAS’ did not interest him.
With this big dream of IAS in his eyes, Jeevan left his small native town and went to Delhi like lakhs of many others, to join those coaching centres which advertised top results. He stayed in a tiny rented room in isolation. Jeevan made up his mind not to settle with any other alternative career.
Soon he realised things were not as easy as in the advertisements. The plethora of study-materials, hectic-classes, mock exams, and cut-throat competition – Jeevan started facing an extremely stressful environment. Family expectations, peer pressure, relationship issues, and self-doubts – he became representative of thousands with an uncertain future in an unknown city.
Despite his brilliance, Jeevan didn’t figure in the names of selected candidates by UPSC. He lost his confidence. The sensitive boy became highly depressed. Rather than thinking about the next attempts or realising that life is bigger than ‘IAS‘, he took the result as a personal failure.
In a moment of immense depression, he felt his life was not worth living. He mistook that there can be no better future for him. Jeevan committed suicide leaving behind his loved ones in insurmountable pain to live with all their life.
A real story with just the name changed!
This is the representative story of many around you. We frequently hear news about highly skilled youth who end their lives due to failure, self-perceived stress, frustration, hopelessness, and many other reasons.
Why did we mention the above news?
Every year, we come across many aspirants under severe stress and depression.
Usually, students who attend classroom coaching by spending lakhs of rupees are seen worst affected. They see themselves as losers who lost time, money, and confidence.
Not everyone may commit suicide, but once the UPSC exam attempts are exhausted, many aspirants tend to become highly depressed. As they lose self-esteem, they end up leading a dissatisfied life – thinking that they are losers who don’t have any options left with them. In fact, they still are the best-brains in the country!
Unfortunately, from the coaching institutes’ side, there is no proper support mechanism.
Everyone cannot be selected into IAS!
We strongly feel this ground reality should be properly explained to all aspirants before they are enrolled in any coaching institute.
There are only 180 vacancies for IAS every year.
And, all the 24 services like IAS, IFS, IRS etc combined – there is only less than 1000 vacancies/year.
When the number of applicants is more than 10,00,000 (10 lakh), how can everyone get into IAS?
However, if only 180 can be selected, are all the rest 9,99,820 losers?
Are they any less brilliant?
Just getting into IAS is not the end!
If you are into UPSC preparation, you may be having some friends with whom you studied together; however, at last, only he/she got selected.
You may be congratulating him/her in public, however deep inside, you may be cursing your fate, feeling sad, and going from one depression into another.
Just think in this direction – your friend is one of the few lucky ones in India who could fulfil their dreams (remember only 180 in a year). You may not be that lucky. Or you may be luckier – your destined path is different.
Much more than that, the hoo-ha of their IAS rank is just temporary. How many IAS officers make headlines for good reasons after their names appear in the UPSC rank list? Very few.
The common man knows the names of only a few IAS officers who are renowned across the country for their commendable service. Many others are just entangled in the bureaucratic framework and red-tapism. The real challenge is to prove justice to the chair and grow as an able officer.
Nobody fails in the IAS Exam!
Regarding the UPSC Civil Services Exam (CSE), we are of the opinion that nobody fails in it. As vacancies are very less, everyone cannot be selected. That doesn’t mean somebody has failed.
Much more than that, any aspirant who has done serious preparation for IAS is a transformed person. Within a few years of preparation, the aspirant – whether cleared or not – would have gained tremendous knowledge about things happening around him/her. He can understand the reality and bigger picture much better most commoners. There is nothing comparable to this kind of enlightenment for an ordinary person. Then how can he be considered a failure?
Rejections are Redirections!
What if you are not selected into IAS?
Well, very often rejections can be the best thing that can happen to you.
Just realise that is not the road you need to take in your life’s journey.
Take a different road.
Strive to do bigger things in life.
Do bigger things in life that any IAS officer could not possibly do in his or her entire career!
In fact, once you start to think in that direction, you will notice that great personalities may not be always IAS officers. You can still be great, even if not selected into IAS!
PS: Ideally, ClearIAS, as a startup in the UPSC Test Prep field should not make the above statement (in commercial interest). We work day and night to help aspirants clear IAS exam. That’s our primary goal. However, we have a bigger vision. That is to help you succeed in life as well.
Whether or not you succeed in an exam, you should succeed in life. That is very important.
As long as you have attempts (chances) left, you should fight hard to get into IAS. Trust us, it is worth the effort for suitable candidates. But once you get selected, you should not see IAS as the end of life. Those who missed selection, not getting selected into IAS is not a reason to end your life. That’s what we wish to communicate in this article.
Realise that there is life beyond exams!
When the pressure to excel is overwhelming, students fail to realise that there is life beyond these exams.
It is the propaganda of society to equate success in life with success in exams.
This is an entirely false notion. There are many examples to prove otherwise!
There are many who were top rankers in exams who failed miserably in real life. On the contrary, there are many who failed in exams, yet quite successful in life!
The Mission of ClearIAS
While preparing our study materials – we take extra care to ensure the ease-of-learning.
You should enjoy what you learn.
ClearIAS: Helping you succeed in life!
ClearIAS focus not only in helping you succeed in the IAS exam but also in life!
Whether or not you clear IAS, your talent remains with you. Whether or not you are a doctor, engineer, or collector, you can do great things in life. Whether or not you get a top government job, you will be respected and loved.
You are special in your own way!
Life is a journey, not a destination
We, the team of ClearIAS, believe that life is a journey and not a destination. You should not fix your happiness to goals like IAS or IPS. Rather you should aim for constant improvement. Find your passion!
World Mental Health Day: October 10
Today, October 10, is World Mental health day. This year’s theme is “suicide prevention” and the promotion of mental health. The objective is to attract the attention of governments so that the issue might be given priority in public health agendas around the world.
Are you under Exam-related Stress? Seek free consultation with experts
On this World Mental health day (October 10), we have sought the help of Dr.Soumya Naik, MBBS, MD, Consultant Psychiatrist, to provide the guidance to aspirants who suffer from immense stress and depression.
To help the youth, especially competitive-exam aspirants, Dr. Soumya (Consultant Psychiatrist) has set up an email assistance service. Any student when in need or in an emergency can write to her at [email protected].
She promises to reply back as early as possible with much-needed support and a video call will be arranged whenever necessary. Kindly make use of this service for yourselves or your loved ones.
Similar services can also be sought from many social ventures like YourDost.
Don’t take stress and depression lightly!
If you are suffering from clinical depression because of the exam stress, the remedy is not to go movies with friends or to take a cup of coffee. You should consult a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist.
According to the WHO, more than 8,00,000 people die by suicide every year, making it a principal cause of death among people fifteen to twenty-nine years old. In the past few decades, the numbers have reached alarming statistical levels.
The prevention requires a multidimensional approach involving the government health policymakers, educational institutes, coaching institutes, print and social media, sociologists, NGOs, cyber lawmakers, police department, psychiatrists, psychologists, other speciality doctors, parents, friends and society at large.
Because of the stigma attached to suicide in people’s mind, getting the sufferers and their families talk about it has been a major issue. And this is the reason why the general public hardly knows the risk factors of suicide and ways to prevent it.
Exam Stress: Who is at the risk of suicide?
- Those with previous suicide attempts or self-harm behaviours or expressed wish to die.
- Youth or children suffering from mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder etc.
- Alcoholics and other drug abusers.
- Those undergone sexual/physical abuse, bullying, cyberbullying etc.
- Addiction to dangerous mobile games which involve violent moves (like Blue Whale Challenge)
- Long-standing pain or chronic illness.
- Children of pained by separated parents, parental death, broken families, foster homes etc.
- Introverts who have fewer friends, low frustration tolerance, apathetic attitude, low adjustability while setting goals.
Why the students preparing for any competitive exam can become suicidal?
- They live in isolation, away from their families and support systems, feeling homesick
- Most of them go too far off cities, metros, where they meet thousands of new people of different cultural background and come across a competitive or a demotivating attitude from them
- The schedules are so hectic, they hardly find any time to share their feelings with others
- Most of the students stay in small, poorly ventilated rooms, and spend most of their times in isolation between the four walls.
- There is no accountability or surveillance of such numerous paying guest rooms or rented rooms where the students spend most of their time.
- There is no structured programme in most of the coaching institutes of having counsellors or student-friendly teachers who can talk to the aspirants from time to time, on one to one basis when they need the most.
- There are no facilities in such coaching institutes for regular medical and psychiatric examination of the aspirants.
Exam Stress: Recommendations for the parents and relatives
- Keep a regular track of your ward who is staying away from you through phone calls not just with your child but also with his/her roommates or friends. Make regular visits to them.
- Whenever you make a call, try to make a video call to notice any changes in their appearance, emotions or behaviour.
- If any previous attempts of suicide or self-harm were made, it is not advisable to send the child /youth away from family or support system.
- If any warning signs are noticed, like voicing suicidal ideas, talking about death, showing no hope in future, staying aloof, decreased communication, watching suicide videos or reading literature about self harm on mobile or computer, remaining sad or depressed, showing extreme anger on self or others, gathering articles for self harm like tablets, pesticides, rope etc, take immediate actions by sending immediate personal help to them till you reach out and take a psychiatrist’s help on an emergency basis.
- Since childhood, identify the suicidal behaviours if any and take timely psychiatric consultation.
- Prepare your child for failures and setbacks and promote the spirit of living. Teach them it is OK to fail and that life is still beautiful with many other alternative positive activities to do.
Exam Stress: Suggestions for Educational Institutions
- Make arrangements for regular psychiatrists or psychologist visits to talk to each aspirant personally.
- If you notice any depression, exam-stress, or above-mentioned warning signs, inform the parents and arrange for psychiatric management.
- Facilitate students groups, preferably including students who stay together or nearby hostels or PG rooms and encourage group discussions. This will help the introverts to make friends and to seek help whenever in need.
- Regular stress-relieving, motivational lectures or workshops by mental health professionals to be arranged.
Exam Stress: How can fellow aspirants help?
- Keep a track of your roommates, flatmates, and friends.
- Discuss regularly amongst yourselves how you feel and how you handle exam stress.
- Make it a point to meet regularly, don’t stay in single, locked up rooms.
- Help given to others is helping yourself. It will definitely revert back when you are in need.
- Practice and encourage others to have regular health checkups, healthy diet, physical exercises (1-hour walk, jog, cardio at gym or yoga every day, even during your exams) and enough sleep.
- Note down the contact numbers of parents and local guardians of your roommates or flatmates. Contact immediately in need.
- Whenever you feel low, the person immediately available to you may be your neighbouring aspirant. Develop a bond with them.
- It’s ok not to get through a particular exam. Just think that it was just not your day! It does not decide your success in life or your future. Further attempts may be still available. OR an alternative career that suits you is eagerly waiting for you. Just embrace it!
Whether or not you succeed in an exam, you should succeed in life. That is very important.
It is equally critical to understand that nobody really ‘fails’ in the IAS examination.
If anytime during your exam preparation, if you feel depressed or feel like a loser, never let your thoughts go the extreme. Seek the psychiatric consultation as given above. Shun the stigma.
Talking more about suicide will not promote suicide, instead, it will reduce the suicide risk. Yes, suicides are preventable!
Remember, you are special in your own way!
Follow your passion!
You are not a loser!
You are not rejected, rather you are redirected.