“if I can do it, every one of you can” was the first thought in my mind for my all-repeater-batch of SSB after being recommended in 9th attempt after facing 3 s/out n 5 conferences. Jai Hind everyone, my name is Ravi (Kumar) Chaudhary and got recommended in my 9th & 10th attempt for CDS & AFCAT. Reading success stories on SSBCrack was always a nice experience and like all of us, I was also excited to think of me writing my own. It’s a pleasure to share my SSB journey with u all an I think it can strengthen the belief of many people like me (- repeaters, villagers, Hindi medium) to dream big n achieve.
Intro- I am a serving soldier in IAF n believe me it was a beautiful journey from arms to shoulders. I belong to Neetiniwas, small village in Hathras (Mathura). I completed my initial education from Govt. Primary & Secondary school in my village. At the time I had no big dreams was just looking for a good job. So I joined IAF on Dec 2014. Luckily got AFCAT merit on 6th anniversary of joining IAF.
Coming to SSB journey, this all started way back in Nov 2017 when i appeared for cds-02/17 and first SSB for IMA on 07 Mar 18. I was screened out. Not much prepared and being Hindi board student i got screened out thrice in my first 4 attempts. It made me realize that just dreaming n wishing doesn’t help. It was the time when life started throwing challenges at me from all directions. I analyzed myself and realized that some serious efforts were needed. Also, the time when i realized that becoming an Armed Forces Officer is my real goal. I worked on all possible parts n results were visible. I made it to 2nd stage in every attempt after that. But each conference out was again creating self doubts though i was getting closer to the required standards.
I was conferenced out back to back four times last being 8th attempt i Feb 20 from Allahabad and then came the life changing time- Lockdown. I remained in my unit for 6 months with no movement outside. Reduced manpower made life challenging as we were working minimum12 hrs daily… But u can’t blame situation. I continued to give time to self and somehow managed to find balance among ssb, fitness, work.
I spent 20 good days with family before my 9th SSB at Kapurthala.
9th attempt – 31 SSB, kapurthala.
33 of us reported at SCN kapurthala on 26 Jul 20 (KARGIL VIJAY DIWAS). Like always attempted all OIR questions wrote simple story n revised it multiple times before GD n gave sound narration making eye contact with group. 16 of us got screened in.
After filling forms and depositing phones our group spent time with each other and went asleep @ 12 am.
Next day was psychological testing- I wrote all stories with free mind and tried to gave my original response. I was alert not to write anything nonsense (sometimes first thought may not be good to go). I wrote most stories related to personal experience s and these were in sync with PIQ. Wrote my own life story in blank picture.
I wrote 59 sentences in WAT as I was not familiar with one word. Wrote simple sentences showing my daily life activities, involvement at work, n my own beliefs.
I could write 37 srt’s only but with detailed solution. Careful reading helps understand the gravity of situation and solutions accordingly. I had prepared my SD nicely with help of true feedback and introspection sessions. Never crammed it but it all came in front of my eyes during testing.
PI- immediately after psyche testing i was sent for interview. It came as a unpleasant surprise for me as I couldn’t have even a look at my interview notes. With no options I just kept calm and recalled my previous learnt lessons – speak less, to the point and use of “Don’t know”.
I entered the room, wished the IO after making me comfortable he fired questions from all aspects of life randomly. I gave my true replies with less thought on how he will judge. Couldn’t answer few GK questions. Interview went for almost 50 minutes and I wasn’t much satisfied with it as he continuously kept pushing me on back foot. Still I knew that I didn’t do anything wrong. (my experience – interviews which seems too good mayn’t be so, my earlier interviews were smooth and things were changed in last few). Introspection sessions n writing all possible questions/answers helped a lot.
2nd day was GTO. I had a balanced participation in both GD’s. Listen to others attentively and spoke 3-4 times in each. In GPE I couldn’t write a detailed solution because if poor time management (my fault) but mentioned all solutions in details during GD. I kept in mind “I WIN IF TEAM WINS” and recalled before start of every outdoor task. Helped people in applying their ideas n gave ideas twice. In HGT I gave 2-3 ideas n helped group to cross the obstacles quickly. Being one of the fittest guys in the group we helped the needy ones in GOR (but no unnecessary motivation or dramebaazi). Here again we should forget our individual benefits. In IO I could complete only 10 obstacles as I feared a fall from Commando Walk and wasted time. And was called again by GTO sir to repeat the same (i saw this happening first time in my SSB journey). This gave me a push and positivity to keep doing good.
Then came command task – GTO asked about my work and reason for switching to Army and where i stand in the group. I ranked myself 3rd, gave reason of not doing good in GPE solution, broke rule on commando walk, forgot rope in HGT. My task was moderately difficult n went for 10-12 min. He asked me different approaches n i gave 5 solutions using three different approaches.
FGT was normal i just participated with free mind.
Before conference day we enjoyed a lot, played MAAFIA till 0130 am and it was the most memorable SSB experience in my journey( thanks ANKIT for introducing this wonderful game) .I could hardly sleep for 4-5 hours.
On final day we again dressed as gentlemen, kept luggage in sheds and reached the waiting hall. The deputy president gave closing cum motivational speech. The conference started at 0930 it took just 20 min for my turn (Ch-07)…I waited for 2-3 minutes and took a deep breath. Then entered with confidence and wished everyone. I was asked 3-4 questions – how did lockdown n no book out help increase the bonding among group( was called 5 times for help in CT)? Why Army? Why didn’t join army as soldier? I requested the president sir to repeat the questions on multiple occasions as i couldn’t hear the voice (mask-glass window -face shield -mask)… It sounded odd but couldn’t take risk.
This ended within 4-5 minutes. I was confident that i will make it this time and if not done will do it in next attempt for sure.
We waited for 15 minutes after the conference was over and it was the time for results. The officer called out chest no 14. And then chest no 07….yes it was mine.
I had thought like all of us how it would feel…I would be crying…but nothing such happened…I was excited but in control and could speak with ease “if I can do it… U all can”. Yes words got choked somewhere when I informed my parents about the results- this was the best feeling… It worth every moment of this long fight of almost 3 years.
After medicals I appeared for my AFCAT SSB on 07 Oct at 1 AFSB. I had not prepared much but retained myself for the next two months. Only challenges were screening n conference. Got s/in with 61 others out of 180 reported. I just gave my original and average performance with best efforts. I had removed all thoughts if previous recommendation and couldn’t even mention it anywhere during testing.
Before conference i was sure of selection or at least being given chance in conference. Waited for 10 minutes. Was asked normal questions about experience in IAF and achievements.
After the conference i was almost sure of my selection….and it was just matter of 30 min when I could see the journey from shoulders to arms almost completed (yes training is still left). I was AIR-119 in CDS (OTA) and made it to Admin PC in AFCAT list.
For all SSB aspirants I would say “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. This great quote of Nelson Mandela sets fit for all of us. There were times when I didn’t even think of appearing at SSB, then feared of 5-day long interview. We clear written exam go for SSB, 200+ report there and only 2-3 make it in the end… .then this all seems impossible. But if one has courage to DREAM BIG, is ready to give their all, can achieve the same.
Whatever the result maybe but SSB makes us a better person and the same has helped me to continuously improve myself. I can tell what i did or changed but u can’t clear SSB by following this path. The real help lies within u (repeaters). Analyze yourself HONESTLY know your positives n negatives – start working now not after 6 hrs sleep or 15 min nap or just one video on YouTube.
What helped me get recommended twice-
Dream (true one) and persistence, I had it clear in mind from the beginning “I am not going to give up easily.” I was ready to give at least 20 attempts for my dream for the plus sign but God has been merciful n very quick to make it happen in 9th.
In the end thanks to all who always stood by me specially my sister who always had belief in me( I’ve long list of person impossible to name all) and special thanks to those who raised fingers at me which genuinely helped me to improve little more. Best wishes for u all for your future endeavors.
Leader is not the one who is hungry to lead but leader is the one who is chosen by people and then he doesn’t let them down.