I am Anmol Agnihotri. Today I want to share my journey but more importantly, I wish to share my failures and lessons that I learned from them. I have graduated from HBTU, KANPUR. I appeared for 3 SSBs (the first 2 in my final year and the Third after graduation)
- AFSB VARANASI: got conferenced out.
- AFSB DEHRADUN: got screened out.
- SSB BANGALORE: recommended for pilot cadre in navy.
Also got merit in for INA.
Hop onto my plane and I’ll take you through the journey.
BEFORE 1ST SSB:
I started my preparation from the third year of my college when we usually get pretty focused on our careers and what to do with life. After seeing AVNI CHATURVEDI becoming the first female fighter pilot. I felt drawn towards this dream of flying someday and having those wings. So I started searching for the exams. I figured that AIR FORCE and INDIAN NAVY allows women in the flying streams back then in 2018. So I started preparing for the writing. Bought a book of ARIHANT PUBLICATIONS. Apart from this I also started working on my personality including extracurricular and started giving attention to the hobbies that I loved. (painting, reading , public speaking) . I stuck to maintaining a journal about my daily routine with my regular college. I had some sense of clarity about the age limit of pilot entry so It was clear in my mind that I have very few attempts so I have to get all my substance together. Also, have you ever tried speaking to strangers on a train about random topics?? Yeah, I did that too during the travels from my Kanpur to my home in Ghaziabad. Finding of myself in every possible way.
My SSB Description!!
1.) You should know that you might have to walk a long walk alone without encouragement or support. It’s definitely not rosy and it’s fine. There are a lot of emotions, energy, and efforts that build the base for you. Laziness, any kind of hindrance, unfavorable situations comfort zone, etc. None of these excuses in your mind will work. You cannot cover up for them in the SSB. What will matter is how much you are working in the direction of your personal growth. That’s it. Any kind of dis-alignment in your words, actions, and thoughts will come out. FOR SURE!!
2.) Conference out in January 2020.
It was definitely a shock. I felt that pang of rejection and it was damn deep. After coming back home I had some plus points. I had friends who were on a similar journey as mine and a real experience of what actually happens inside. All my personal hidden fears and the undiscovered emotions came to the surface. And that’s when I realised SSB is not an EXAM but It is a MIRROR. Where we come face to face with our conscious and subconscious self. I wrote down all my experiences in my personal notebook including every minute detail and even asked my group members what they thought about me. I took that back to my college and analysed my performance objectively as a third person.
- The basic structure of SSB is to assess our MANAS (PSYCHE TESTS), VACHA(INTERVIEW), KARMA(GTO). It’s a very meticulously designed structure that takes in the science of psychology to calculate an individual’s performance. I owe this realisation to my 12th standard where I aced in my psychology subject and its now when I figured how important psychology and spirituality is in our real lives. And SSB IS THE SUBSET OF OUR REAL LIVES. So these two tools become the fundamental pillars of SSB automatically.
- GTO ANALYSIS: I was not taking the initiative and was participating in a passive form instead of being an intellectually active participant. I was letting others take over. It does not mean you have to fight but it definitely means you have to take a stand.
SO WHAT THAT MEAN?
It meant that I was not taking enough initiative in my real life in terms of career eg :- whether I want to give GATE and follow the conventional path or believe in myself and do something different in spite of all the opposite opinions from others. I Skipped the GATE exam and appeared for the INET exam which was on the very same day ( 8th feb 2020) for electrical engineering. That was one of the biggest risks that I took for myself and my dreams. And this one single event gave me inner strength and strong self-belief. and the extent of possibilities that lie ahead.
In terms of personal relationships eg:- Handling conflicts and all the emotions instead of running away from them. (Conflicts are usually a source of information about our own minds/judgments). I explored a lot about the concept of how our childhood conditioning affects our adult relationships and directly determines our definitions of self-worth, love, trust, integrity, and honesty. Which definitely helped me build my emotional quotient.
- INTERVIEW PART: I believe that “confidence comes with clarity”. Tie a tight knot on this one. I was already using diary writing so I had explored a lot about myself but after my first SSB I took it more seriously and started preparing my answers which were 3,4 pages long in the first but till my second SSB in September they became concise and well expressed. I even used my classmate’s registers to write everything down. Filled 3, 4 of them in 1 year. Practiced speaking in front of the mirror and recording some of them during the lockdown. I took the help of my parents, siblings, and friends who gave me proper long feedbacks on what they thought about me which was very helpful.
- PSYCHE PART: Here I want to emphasize the “significance” of the tests. There is no set pattern and no amount of TAT, WAT, and SRT practice can help you if you are not doing the introspection part. It becomes superficial. A person who has not practised these but has 100 percent clarity about himself /herself has leverage over a person who has practiced these 100 times. So when you know yourself inside out and you share your true version with all the strengths and accepting the imperfections. YOU will kill it, my friend!!
- 2ND SSB: Got screened out.
The reason was very basic. HOBBIES!
Listen, my fellow warriors. Hobbies are not for the sake of showing off in the PIQ or doing the stuff that is famously considered a hobby. That’s stupidity.
I had got so serious that I kept everything aside for the sake of my SSB. I was working on my fitness, general knowledge, personal clarity, expression BUT not on my personal happiness independent of SSB. And it got reflected in the lack of creativity in my PPDT story and my speaking energy. Became aggressive. ( While I have seen aggressive candidates getting screened in but it definitely gets noticed in later stages and becomes a reason for rejections). So try for a WIN-WIN( 7 habits of highly effective people book by Stephen Covey). What you are doing in your daily life is going to get mirrored. Accept it or not, Your choice.
From my experience, I have found that discipline and hobbies are like “yin yang”. They complement each other. Discipline provides you a self-control and hobby stuff gives your mind some relaxation and freedom to be yourself which acts as fuel for your spirit, it gives you liveliness, and enjoying yourself helps to maintain positivity. After getting screened out and coming back home, Being passionate about painting, reading, stone collection, photography, writing was now a priority for me.(refer to FIRST THINGS FIRST book by STEPHEN COVEY). This helped me a lot in my 3rd SSB.
I took up the 1-month challenge of painting daily, reading my favorite genres, and having conversations with similar-minded people through social media communities for myself and “not” for SSB. (AS IT WAS A LOCKDOWN BUT THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE)
“BALANCE IS THE KEY” which was also my weakness and I even mentioned it in my 3rd SSB in the interview. Forgetfulness and Strictness being the other two. I was working on them by being present and more accepting of myself and others. Nobody is perfect at it but yes it requires CONSISTENCY and practice. Before my 3rd SSB I also took help from Lt.Col. Ganesh Babu sir.
- 3rd attempt- RECOMMENDED!!
It was a marvellous 5 days experience in itself . Apart from my strong determination to achieve my dream of becoming a pilot , it was different this time. I was enjoying every moment.
The best thing that helped relieve pressure form my mind was my joining in IBM BANGALORE which had got postponed due to covid. My 3rd SSB was on 10 December and my JOB joining was on 25th December. So I was asked a lot of questions about my back up plan.
What Kind of a backup plan I think is a good backup plan?
Jaise Sandeep bhaiya bolte hain in TVF ASPIRANTS ki back up plan ka importance hi ye hai to create a balance. Having a backup plan that will support you in building your skills (pursuing further studies) / personal or financial development (job /internships etc) and also that keeps “THE FIRE INSIDE YOU ALIVE” is very important. You have a choice to say NO to anything that does not align with your future vision.
FORCES need an active goal setter and not a passive goal setter. Life of forces demands a personality and Risk-taking mindset person, who has a lot of enthusiasm for it and creating a great life with strong character.
“Don’t go for the secure, Go for the risky. In life, it is very important to measure yourself at least once. Even if that makes you afraid, Run towards it.” ~ movie INTO THE WILD.
THE RIGHT MINDSET FOR SSB:
After considering all the points above and having a clarity of your backup plan, choices , friends circle and family. Having in depth analysis of all the weaknesses without any excuses. I felt there was not a thing that I needed to think about in the SSB so I relaxed and enjoyed my best. That smile was not made up, I was really happy in all the tasks. I made great friends who are my friends till date.
When the result was announced my heart skipped a beat. I was the first chest number in that list. . After waiting for 3.5 months of uncertainty and some more risks and sacrifices. Joining letter from INDIAN NAVY FINALLY CAME stating the commencement of our course in JUNE END.
That feeling was inexplicable. I had no word to express how happy and overwhelmed I was and my family and friends were. Nothing else mattered and all the efforts, pain and struggle felt like it was worth it. Truly grateful. So yeahhh!!
Taking that next BIG leap is my Mantra. Don’t work on becoming the best as there is comparison “but” work on becoming a great human being by giving full justice to your entire human potential and difficulties and you will automatically become the best!! (sounds like 3 idiots? CHALO FIR MILENGE KABHI FORCE MAIN).