It is always good to get back to writing something which is not code or emails or documentation. Though writing this did get a bit uncomfortable for me at times, I also enjoyed it. I hope I am not too rusty.

This was inspired by a Twitter thread where someone listed all the failures he had faced in his life – an anti-resume, so to say. I liked the idea. While a resume highlights all your successes and achievements, it is your failures that play a more important role in shaping your character and keeping you humble. They ensure that your feet stay on the ground and your head stays on your shoulders, and doesn’t touch the clouds. What a pain in the neck would that be. 😉

So, this is about me listing (literally) some of the failures in my life. Some will be known to those know me, some would be probably new. There might be some surprises and “Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that” moments in there too. While there are things that are quantifiable failures (flunking an exam, for example), I have also included some moments in my life which made me feel like I have failed. After all, successes or failures are as much about perception as they are about hard reality. So, here we go:

  1. Aimed to score 95% PCM in my 12th board exams, but didn’t study well enough and got only 85% instead.
  2. Appeared for the IIT-JEE with very little preparation and obviously didn’t get in. The papers got leaked that year and exams were re-conducted. My preparations did not change, and neither did the end-result.
  3. Didn’t take the first semester of engineering seriously enough and failed in 4 subjects out of 8.
  4. Didn’t learn my lesson from the first semester and failed 3 out of 4 subjects of the first semester (in the ATKT exams) and 4 out of 8 of the second semester. Ended up with a grand total of 7 ATKTs out of 16 at the end of the first year.
  5. Didn’t tell my parents about the second semester results for about two weeks. I went to the college and sat in the library all day for those two weeks as I did not have the courage to tell them the truth.
  6. Spent a year at home cooped up in a single room all day. I couldn’t go out as I didn’t want to face the obvious question – “Don’t you have to go to college today?”.
  7. After getting my engineering degree, I decided to appear for the GATE exam and go for post-graduation. Again, my efforts weren’t serious enough to crack the exams, and a year went by.
  8. Started looking for a job. Submitted my CV to at least a few dozens of companies and job portals, with no response from anywhere. At least a couple of trees sacrificed their lives for my job-search.
  9. In the desperation to land a job, any job, I applied to a few call-centre jobs. Since I was an introvert who froze like an ice candy in group settings, got slaughtered in group discussions and sometimes even in one-on-one interviews.
  10. When I landed my first job, I was never really happy with the working environment, the amount of corruption and the brazen “sab chalta hai” culture. It almost killed my soul, but there was no alternative in sight. I almost resigned myself to a lifetime of crushed dreams.
  11. After I did my post-grad diploma, I started applying for jobs in IT companies. In most of them, I cleared the first couple of rounds only to get to hear “Oh but we are only looking for candidates with CS/Electronics/IT degrees”. I appeared for 23 such interviews before I landed my first job.
  12. In my third year on the job, I set my eyes on the “Employee of the Year” award. Worked my backside off to ensure my team (and I) delivered the maximum output, but ended up not getting the award.
  13. Love happened, or at least I thought it did. That dream went poof in the matter of a couple of months as I got dumped.
  14. Love happened again. Popped the question and got turned down rather dramatically. The flame was still burning within, though.
  15. Popped the question again after a couple of years, and got a “Yes” this time, only to see her parents get her married off to a guy of their choice, a year down the line.
  16. Changed my career profile (within the same company), but the experiment did not prove to be a success. Almost got chucked out of the job, only to be saved because my old team/manager welcomed me back. (#15 and #16 happened almost in parallel, because of which #15 hurt even more)
  17. Met someone through a common friend to “see if you guys like each other”. After a few months, got to hear a “yes”, which was followed by a “I need to think” and later a “no”.
  18. Somewhere over all these years, I “lost” a couple of good friends, who simply ghosted me one fine day.

That’s quite a list, isn’t it? Yet, I am sure I can find a few more if I look really hard. Fortunately, I tend to forget my failures and remember the lessons I learn from them. This has served me well so far, and I intend to keep doing so.

So, is it really all gloom and doom? Not at all! I know that’s what you would expect me to say, but it is indeed the truth. Every single one of those failures has either taught me something valuable or changed me in a way that left me better equipped for the challenges to come. A lot of what I am today is because of my upbringing and basic nature, but the list above has played a greater role in making me the guy you see today. I have learnt far more from my failures, goof-ups and blunders than I have ever learnt from my moments of glory.

More importantly, life has been kind enough to keep me afloat in many ways – either by rewarding my efforts most of the times, or by sending along the right people at the right moment. They often pushed me to make the right changes at the right time. Even when things have gone wrong, they haven’t gone wrong irreversibly. I have always had a lifeboat to sail on, and that is something I have always been grateful for, and will continue to be.

Last but not the least, I have come to believe that if not for my failures, I would never have succeeded at all. While my successes have kept me happy, my failures have kept me humble, which is how I intend to stay. Failures are natural and inevitable, necessary even. That’s why I say “It’s swell to fail”. 🙂