• Simran Somani

Does mental health matter in excelling at examinations? My truth.

This piece is my entire life in 1000 words. I've tried to explain the purpose behind this website and share a journey I am sure many people will relate to.


I won't lie, this was not easy to pen down. And so I sincerely hope it helps someone who is looking for reasons to stay motivated.



 

If I had to describe myself in one word, I’d say I was ‘dedicated’. Regardless of how easy or difficult things were for me, I was always ready to put in the effort.


But that didn’t mean that everything came naturally to me. What followed after I scored a 10.0 CGPA in class X, wasn’t just a celebration, but also a debate. Taking commerce instead of science was unconventional because “smart kids study science”.


Again, when I scored 97% in XII, I was excited to enrol at SRCC, but personal reasons dictated that I do college via the correspondence route and pursue CA instead.


Despite the circumstances, there was one dream I would never have compromised - an MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad. I wrote an email to the admissions office to ask whether an undergrad through correspondence would be a barrier to admission or not. With their assurance, I commenced my journey.


After clearing CPT and IPCC, I joined PwC for article-ship. Those three years taught me about more than just the corporate world.


I learned about people and myself. While I look back at it fondly now, there were far too many 2 AM work nights followed by 6 AM CA classes and working weekends. I remember feeling completely lost more times than I can count.


May 2018 – CA Final


We were given 5 months of exam leave to prepare. At this point, any serious aspirant should have gone through at least one round of reading and be familiar with all the subjects.


I, on the other hand, had taken some scattered classes and just about learnt the names of all the 8 subjects and which group they belonged to in CA Final (I really thought that Audit was a Group 2 subject, the way it had been in IPCC).


That’s how prepared I was.


Regardless, I dove head first into the syllabus with the same dedication I prided myself on. Although I managed to finish portions by Feb end, I had underestimated how emotionally taxing CA final preparation would be.


By March, I realised that actually clearing the exam may be one of the hardest things I have had to do and since I was not used to the idea of failing, I started taking a lot of stress.


Now I know what you're thinking – everyone takes stress. What’s new about that? For starters, mine was so severe that it manifested physically in the form of severe dyshidrotic eczema on both my palms.


It was a painful condition which left me helpless and incapable of going about my preparation. I had massive blisters on my hands and the simple act of picking up a pen felt monumental. My mock exams and last minute revision plans had been laid to waste. I couldn’t sleep at night due to the itching and pain.


I was grappling with mental defeat and wallowing in self-pity, fuelled by the sympathy of friends and family.


After multiple steroid injections and consultations with countless dermatologists, I was finally taken to a homeopath-cum-psychologist. He told me that my condition wasn’t eczema but anxiety. The eczema was just a symptom. When I told him I was worried about writing my exam with the pain and he had but one thing to say, “If your hands bleed while writing the exam, simply wipe the blood off the paper and carry on. I do not understand the issue here.


Those seemingly harsh words transformed my entire outlook on the situation. I realised that I had given up even before I started!


With renewed willpower and determination, I gave it my all. But things are never as simple as they appear.


While I had made some progress, I was yet to learn my lesson. A day before my Direct Tax paper, I fell very ill again, because of some more stress. Why this new wave of stress? I messed up my cost accounting paper and thought I would not even get that coveted “40”.


I know how weak that sounds, trust me!


Nevertheless, I pressed on and wrote the remaining papers of the group.


Come result day, I was a chartered accountant! I had 5 exemptions and even managed to score a 52 in that dreaded cost accounting paper.


I worked with Nestle India after qualifying but I knew I wanted to study further. In August 2019, I resigned and started to prepare for the CAT. An MBA was on the cards.


But this time, I wasn’t going to let stress take over. The stakes were too high – I had no job and no concrete back up plan. But I knew better than to make the same mistakes again.


After months of preparation, I found myself sitting before the interview panel of my dream college – IIM Ahmedabad.


Cut to May 8th, 2020,


A phrase starting with the word “Congratulations” shone on my phone screen. Before I finished reading the sentence, I knew that my life and my world had changed!


“Congratulations you have been accepted at IIM-A for the two year MBA programme!” The goose-bumps were real.


But one thing was left.


Along my journey, I met many people who have inspired me, pulled me up and spurred me on. Their path has paved the way for my success and I had promised myself that I would pay it forward.


And for this very reason, I started this initiative – The Unconventional MBA.


This website aims at helping CAs and other professionals, lawyers, economics and commerce undergrads chase their MBA dreams.


We cover everything right from entrance examination prep, the experiences of absolutely inspirational veterans who have been through this grind and emerged victorious, interviews and how to ace them, some facts that you must absolutely know and more!


It is my attempt to stay true to that promise and to give back to the fraternity that has given me everything I have today. I hope to be able to make a difference in the lives of the aspirants of today and the CXOs of tomorrow.


All the best in all your pursuits & always remember that the harder you work, the luckier you will get! :)

 

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