If not you, then who, If not now, then when. Hello friends. I’m Ayushi Pradhan. I’m from Meerut, UP. I got recommended in my 5th attempt from 1 AFSB, Dehradun on 3 Jan 2020. And I got merit in for Aug 2020 course at Airforce Academy. Today, I’ll be sharing my defence journey which consists of lots of ups and downs.
I started preparing for AFCAT and CDS exams in my final year of B.tech. Meanwhile, I got my call up letter for Indian Navy at 33 SSB, Bhopal on 1 Dec 2018. I was very excited for my first SSB. I started collecting all information about the 5 days process through friends and internet. During my preparation, I observed a lot of change in my personality like I was becoming more confident in public speaking and dwelling into a routine for the first time in my life. I prepared a separate diary to write my observations after self introspection. Also, I was following up current affairs daily from newspaper and internet. I purchased SSBCrack booklet for OIR and practiced from it. I didn’t practice writing psychology and maybe that’s why I was conference out but I was not demotivated because it was worth a experience.
After a few days CDS 2 2018 results came and I was so happy that I cleared it in first attempt in my final year only. I selected my SSB date on 1 June 2019 at 34 SSB Allahabad. I had heard a lot about Allahabad being the rejection board. So I was quite nervous also that what if I get screened out. Also since I was a repeater now, I had many doubts in my mind. Again, I got conference out in my second attempt. I was upset but then I was looking forward to AFCAT result.
Meanwhile I got a campus placement at Bharti Airtel and joined the company on 17 June 2019 at Gurgaon. After a few days AFCAT 1 2019 result came and I cleared it. I selected my SSB date on 1 July 2019 at 3 AFSB Gandhinagar. This time I was screened out. It came to me as a major set back. I came back to my job and started my preparation. I gave exams of Territorial Army , CDS 1 2019, and BSF but couldn’t clear any. This was the point in my life when I felt very much under confident and depressed. My father suggested me to give other exams as well. Half heartily, I appeared for several exams like IBPS PO, EPFO, etc but couldn’t crack even a single written.
The sole reason was I wasn’t able to manage studies along with the job. I was highly disappointed to see my performance getting poorer because I have always been one of the toppers in my school and college. So, I had high expectations from myself.
Then I gathered my thoughts and started to make a balanced routine again. I cleared INET which was held for the first time. Then I went to 33 SSB, Bhopal on 4 Dec, 2019. To my shock, I got screened out once again. This time I felt completely broke. It took me a lot to gather myself earlier and again here I was. After these two continuous screen outs, my morale was sinking down. I had absolutely no idea what am I going to do next because it was already an year since I appeared for my first SSB.
Then AFCAT 2 2019 results were out. I selected my SSB date as 30 Dec 2019 at 1 AFSB, Dehradun. I had selected the dates but to be honest I had no heart to go for it. Because after two continuous screen outs, I was afraid to face one more. But my father who has always been there with me in all of my SSBs, he pushed me to go for it. He believed that I’ll surely make it this time. So I applied 15 days leaves at office and came back home for preparation. This time I made a lot of changes in writing psychology. I practiced TAT, WAT, SRT daily. And I felt the progress I was making. Things were getting more clear to me. I worked on my weak areas, practiced speaking in front of mirror, read news daily, wrote down my personal observations and maintained a physical exercise routine.
On 29 Dec, I packed my stuff and reached Dehradun along with my father and stayed at a guest room near the SSB centre. I got up early in the morning and got ready for screening. Around 300 girls reported in morning at 1 AFSB, Dehradun. After documentation, we were divided in the groups of 15 each. I was very much nervous inside. So, I was motivating myself that I’ll forget everything and give my best.
My OIR went excellent. In PPDT, there was a village scene in which a group of people were standing by road side. I made a story around bringing in the concept of e-rikshaw in the village so that students could go to their schools and colleges without waiting for local buses which get delayed often. I recited my story clearly and confidently and maintained eye contact with everyone in the group. Group discussion was a big fish market but other candidates appreciated my story and chose it to take as a common theme. I got a chance to speak 3 times in which I tried to touch the points which no one had mentioned. I was satisfied with my performance. Then in the afternoon results were announced. The moment I heard my chest number, I was so elated. I went up running and joined the group of screened in candidates. I was given chest number 68. Total 80 girls got screened in. We were then divided into groups of 10 each. Then we went to our respective rooms. Our room was ‘Chetak’. We all introduced ourselves and settled. After a little rest, we got ready for the psychology test that was to be held in the evening.
Most of the TAT pictures were female oriented. I wrote all good TAT stories based on my own experiences. I was able to complete all 60 WAT, 60 SRT and Self Description on time. I was quite happy with my psych performance as this was the first time when I was able to complete the entire test on time. Also, I reflected all dimensions of my personality in my psych. The next day was free for us so we went out to visit Dehradun. We went to Paltan Bazar, Buddhist Monastery and explored the markets. This visit had united our group so well and we all became good friends. We brought cake, chocolates and many snacks to celebrate New years Eve. It was the best group of girls I had met and I was so thankful for it.
Our interviews were scheduled on third day. My interview went for 50 min in which interviewer grilled me a lot. I was able to answer all personal questions confidently. But when it came to Gk part, I wasn’t able to answer most of his questions. To which he grilled me a lot and maintained a pressure throughout. I was not setting back because of this grilling but I was simply denying the questions which I didn’t know. Since I was eligible for technical branch, he asked me many typical technical questions which I simply denied to know. He even said that, “why have you come for SSB when you know nothing, go back”. After I came back to room, I analysed my interview with my group. And came to the conclusion that he was putting pressure to test me.
The next day was GTO 1st day which started with GD. Whenever I got the chance to speak, I put my opinion clearly stating facts as explanation. I was able to solve Group Planning Exercise on time and discussion was again a fish market. In Group Obstacle Race, I along with my group maintained high josh and helped each other. In PGT, I was going with the flow and helping my group. But I couldn’t get a chance to execute my ideas as everyone was hustling. So I grabbed the opportunity in HGT and presented the idea. GTO asked me to execute the same in various other ways. At the end of day, I was satisfied with my performance. In nights we used to chatter and discuss almost everything from world and around. It was fun to be a part of this group.
Next day we had our GTO 2nd day followed by the conference. My lecturette topic was – CPEC(China Pakistan Economic Corridor). I spoke confidently about it and explained the inter relationship between countries along with China’s aggressive policies. I have been very much into literary events in my school and college, so, this served as a benefit to me. In Individual Obstacles, I could complete 7 out of 8 in the time frame given. In Command Task, I was called thrice by my group mates. GTO asked me about my previous attempts before CT. My command task was quite difficult one. So I took time in understanding it and then commanding subordinates. GTO raised the difficulty level by removing the material twice. And I was able to complete it somehow.
Now the final milestone was left- Conference. I was asked a personal question in my conference and other formal questions about stay and food. Around 4PM, we were ready to listen to results. One by one chest numbers were being called. When I heard my chest number, I wanted to shout loud but I maintained my calm and went ahead. It was a beautiful moment. From our group I and my friend Chetna got recommended. We both were so happy and congratulated each other.
It was not the preparation of just 15 days which helped me to achieve recommendation but the entire journey of 5 attempts which improved me gradually. Now after getting into the merit, I can say it with proof that efforts pay off. If I can make it, you can also. Just don’t give up on your dreams. Even if failures throw you back, come back stronger. Jai Hind.