The Genie, The Maze and The Force by Aastha Bhansali

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It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

– Albus Dumbledore

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Aastha Bhansali

There I was, looking at the ‘Unique Rank list’, dumbfounded and pleasantly surprised. I saw my rank. AIR 50. I made it! My dream had realized! I would now go to NLSIU – my dream law school, THE dream law school of every CLAT taker. That feeling was priceless. For thefirst time, I saw my mom crying for the right reason. My dad had this twinkle in his eyes. My brother was overjoyed. So was the rest of my family. Everyone was happy. I had made it. Best night of my life. Ecstasy redefined.

This is pretty much how every future NLSite felt. Do you not want this mindblowing experience? If you are one of those who aim to make it to one of the best law schools of this nation, this article is a little something you might want to read.

Before I mention what this article is about, let me tell you what it isn’t about. I am not discussing prep strategy or good books for reference here. I won’t tell you how to manage your time. Nothing of that sort. Go to pages like Ask NLS or CLATGyan for such tips – those guys are really good at all this. Or ask your Mentor. This isn’t my forte.

Aspirants often ask this question – What does it take to be in the cream of the crop?

Did we slog away 6 – 10 hours a day? Worked too hard? Some might have. Are we too bright? Are we the super-intelligent, whiz kid kind? Not so much. Good books? Maybe. Followed a different ‘strategy’? I doubt. We read the same stuff everyone else read. The stereotypical image you have of those who make it is false and delusional – to say the least. The friends I’ve made in the last few days – my future batchmates – trust me, they are just like you. They breathe, eat, sleep, watch movies, go gaming and waste time too. And they’re awesome. So then, what is the secret?

The truth is, and always will be, that there is no secret ingredient for success.

No amount of books or studying will ensure a good score. I’ve seen those who read every book in the world, those who scored marks like 150 – 160 in mocks do terribly. I’ve seen sloggers and toppers ending up nowhere. There is no guarantee. Know that well.

I remember, two days before CLAT, I was crying my eyes out. One of the reasons was that I had already soiled my NLU Delhi exam. My already in dearth confidence had hit rock bottom. I didn’t know what to do. Then I talked to my brother.

He gave me a law which I would like to share with you. I call it the ‘Law of Averages‘. It states that:

“95% of the people are at the same level as, if not below you. They have read almost the same books. Done the same things. But only a few succeed. The secret to success is not more knowledge, but a positive attitude. If you want to beat the average, be confident.”

Confidence is what distinguishes the best from the rest. Not the knowledge or the place or the insti, but the attitude. We were just as nervous and confused, but we still had faith. NLS or not, we somehow knew by the end of it that things would fall in place. We believed in ourselves. So must you.

I had lots of ups and downs, ins and outs throughout this year. My story had a happy ending and I learnt a lot of lessons (the bitter way),the Law of Averages being one of them. I would like to share the others too.

If you think you can’t, then you can’t. When you rehearse failure in your head, the universe gives you just that.

There is this age old example of the elephant in a circus. When young, it was chained to a solid steel stake. As it grew, it kept trying to break free, but never succeeded. The motivation began to fade. Soon, it stopped trying. Funny thing? As the elephant grew, the circus people had it held only by a wooden stake and a rope.  Obviously, it could easily be pulled out of the ground by the massive animal.  Thepeople knew that it was already programmed to stop any action when it felt the pull of the rope. It never realised its power and lived in those shackles forever. We have all been in the place of that elephant somewhere in our lives. I have seen smart people scoring low in mocks because of silly mistakes twice or thrice in a row. Some of them got so depressed that they gave up. They stopped believing. Somewhere, I was one of them too. I ruined my NLU Delhi exam because I panicked. Because I thought that I could not do it. So I paid.

Don’t ever let that happen to you. Trust me, anybody can do anything. Just have faith in your abilities.  Do not compare yourself to others. Never. All of us are different with unique skills. Every single person has the potential to make it. You just need to believe! Sometimes, things don’t work out even after persistent efforts. Get the message right – It will not work that way! Change your approach to it. Never, ever give up! It doesn’t solve problems. Just have faith and keep working in the right direction.

This is where the ‘Genie‘ of my article comes in. When I was young, I would dream of stumbling across one of those magic lamps. Heck, I even had my 3 wishes ready! But I did not find the Genie outside. It was always there though. Right inside me! It was I, myself! Look, theGenie is nothing but a very fancy name for your own hidden potential. If all utilised it, if all developed their faculties properly, we would all be legendary successes! Yeah, we’re that capable! Then why is it that only a few reach that level? Simple. Like the elephant, most of never realise our true worth. We try to judge ourselves through faulty parameters set by others and when we can’t ‘pass’ the tests, we get intothe ‘I’m such a loser. I can’t do it.’ thought process. We have all failed somewhere. Screwed up things. Felt like losers. But those who dared to say ‘NO’ to the thoughts of the society, parents, friends and well wishers, those who refused to be branded as lesser beings, those who dared to believe, released the genie. The lamp inside you can be rubbed only through this sense of self worth.

I feared the paper more than ever after I screwed up my Delhi exam. I even ran away  once without finishing the mock. There was fear. Too much of it. It kept coming back to haunt me. I felt like crying all the time. As a matter of fact, I did. Then I talked to my brother. He made me see the real picture. He gave me a glimpse of real life – of how those who made it dropped out to follow their dreams, of those who fared miserably in the best of colleges, of those who didn’t make it to the college but did great things later. The phase of painful uncertainty and self doubt was finally over. I realised that NLS or not, I was there for a reason. I was destined for great things. This one exam could not decide my worth or my fate. I began to believe. Whoosh! There went my genie! And here I am – livin the dream! 😀

Learn to believe. Let your Genie out of the lamp and conquer the world.  Feel the power.  Dream big. It will unite the forces to fulfill every desire of yours. You have it inside. Don’t let it sleep. Be fearless. Let go.

The Labyrinth

Do you know what a Labyrinth is? A Maze. It has lots of intricately paved passages. Some lead to the goal, the rest are just dead ends. After the Genie, the Maze is another concept. You know it already. Life is a labyrinth. Most of our time is spent trying to find our way through. We are confused, nervous and scared. I tried so many things throughout the year. Made a lot of mistakes. Saw lots of dead ends. But eventually, with the help of my mentors, my family, my friends and yes, my genie, I found my way. So will you. The Maze isn’t that hard a nut to crack after all.

While I was paving my way, I found a lot many people who believed too much in ‘Luck’ and ‘Destiny’. Some went as far as saying that hard work had no role to play. Only the lucky make it in CLAT. It was, obviously, very annoying. Not to mention demoralizing and scary. However, as time passed, I became more and more at peace with the idea of ‘destiny’. We all have our destiny, yes. But we do not know anything about it. In fact, people often present a very distorted image of the real thing. Always remember that each of us has something great waiting for us at the other end of the maze. Usually, it is more than just one thing. You can control the Genie completely, notthe Maze. You have partial control when you work for your goal. You can decide which route to take, but you would still be moving towards that same end. Like my brother told me, there were people who worked hard, got into the best of law universities and then dropped out inthe middle to do what they really liked. They chose the route, found a dead end, turned around, started afresh and got to the end of it. It probably would have been the same had they not chosen that route. They found what was in store for them and are leading happy lives today. Some persistent, ‘realistic’ ones choose to continue doing things they don’t like, and end up angry and frustrated in life. They don’t want to turn around and start afresh. If you don’t want to change your path even after facing the dead end, why blame the Maze?! That is exactly what people do. So don’t listen.  Don’t fear the Maze. It will always have good things in store for you. So be patient, keep trying. If you realise that your way isn’t working, take a different path. However, I can guarantee one thing about every path – right or wrong – it teaches you valuable lessons of life. So you always learn something at the end. A win – win situation. Have I reached my end yet? I doubt. I have just started on a new path. Lot more to walk, lot more to learn. But yes, it hasn’t been a dead end so far. 🙂

The Force

This is the third and completely uncontrollable factor which helps you reach the end of your maze. There are times when things just don’t go the way you want them to. You know the path to your goal, you work hard. Still, the Force or luck does not favour you. The Force either pushes you so that you reach there quickly or deters you before you reach the end of your path. When the Force works against you, it can only mean two things –

a. There is a dead end ahead. One of the two is unsuitable – the path or the goal.

b. You need to learn a lot of lessons to reach your goal.  Struggle, I would call it.

So then, how do you know if your path is right? Your goal. Ask yourself – Am I really that passionate about it? Is this what I really want to do? Is this what my heart desires? If you get a ‘yes’, keep walking. You might find a dead end, but it will only mean that you need to change your approach. Not your goal. Fight it. Struggle. Be determined. The Force will ultimately favour you. Even if it doesn’t, it’s for your own good.

The Competition

This is the last ting I would talk about. When I was preparing, my mentor used to lecture the class very often about the number of people writing CLAT. He would say that we need to fight 40 people for a seat. Lots of random gibberish, I never paid attention. After I saw theDelhi results, I realised something. The Competition isn’t even there. There is enough place at the top. Most people who claimed that they’d make it to Delhi scored in the 70 – 90 range. Not even eligible for the waiting list. So do not worry about this. You don’t have to ‘fight’ much. Just work hard and have faith in your genie. 🙂

All I want to say is – yes, you can. You just need to believe! CLAT or not, I know every one will do well in life – the real exam. So, relax, have fun while you make your way. This time will not come back. Don’t lose it. You will end up learning much more than you thought you would, and it would always help you. I have already stretched this far too long, so I must take leave!

Good luck! May the force be with you!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. I don’t write too well, yes, I know. Forgive me for that!

Aastha Bhansali,
Batch of 2016 – NLSIU

53 COMMENTS

  1. Its not just the simple language and the rank that was impressive about this article, its the positive attitude or your own ‘philosophy’. It really helps. Thank you so much 🙂

    • Oh, anytime… I know what this phase feels like and what all you go through… I’ve been there, done that… I hope I’ve helped… 🙂 And yes, about the simple language part, I could’ve written it in a verbose or bombastic fashion, but I believe that the charm lies not in your vocab, but in what you’ve got to say… 🙂 🙂 🙂 Good luck!!! 

  2. I wish I had read this before giving CLAT. But I guess it’s never too late to embrace positivism.
    The Law of Averages it is.

    Probably the best guest post on CLATGyan. The writing is reminiscent of Robin Sharma. 

    If law does not work out for you Aastha Bhansali, then a string of  bestselling self-help books can very much come up in the future. 

    • Hi Peevie! I’ve heard a lot about you! Let’s just call it – The Chronicles of Peevie Juice and Kanak Kumar 😛 😛 😛 Big fan buddy! Big fan! 😀 
      Thank you so much for the compliment! I’ll tell you what, ever since I turned 12, I wanted to be a bestselling author (the J K Rowling types). Capturing somebody’s imagination and fantasies gives pleasure which is beyond anything else. Somehow, I know what lies at the end of my maze. Law, for me, was something I came across when I let the force drive me… For now, yes, I like it… But I know that I would die sad and unsatisfied if I do not fulfill the writing dream of mine… It is something which drives me… What drives you? Try to understand what the force is trying to tell… There is something better waiting for you… CLAT is, was and will continue to be a stupid law entrance test. Don’t give it more importance than it deserves 🙂 🙂 🙂
      Life has a lot in store for each of us. Acing or failing a test are too trivial to make a difference. Just to explain, let me tell you that I passed class 10 with a 90%. I ruined my 12th and got a mere 70%. I always wanted to go for mass comm. but all good colleges needed a good score in 12th. Law wasn’t even there in my list. Oh, god. I hated it like anything. I never wanted to read those fat books and mug up sections. It made no sense. But somehow, I was asked to give CLAT a shot. I really had no time to prepare. I sat there, and scored 128. I dropped. I realised that I had a thing for it. I loved it.. Exactly a year ago, around this time, I was planning to kill myself.  And here I am sir, enjoying life. What I mean to say is, let go. Things will fall in place by themselves. This shall pass too. 🙂 🙂 🙂 

          • @Kanak Kumar – You could have just not accepted my comment. And this article warranted a response.
            Say hi to the KKK.

            @Aastha –  Don’t say thank-you. You’re the one who’s being helpful right now.
            I write. Always have. It drives me. The only think I believe I’m good at. 
            And I’m afraid I’ve given CLAT more importance than it deserves already. I dropped the year. Score 116 is not getting me anywhere. Again.
            I got 86% in 10th and 60% in 12th. So I get the whole percentage drop thing. 

            I hope things fall in place for me too. I’ll stay positive. 
            Thanks again. 

            • @Peevie: It’s okay. Shit happens. Things will be fine. Best wishes. 🙂
              @Kanak: Law school strips you of your senses already. Isn’t that enough 😛 😀 

  3. Absolutely right!! Every day you have the choice either to enjoy your life or to hate it. The only thing that is truly yours and that no other can control or take it from you is your – ATTITUDE. And, if that is POSITIVE, everything else in life becomes much easier. Never ever believe you are a loser. And, no one can be a loser. That’s my experience as AIR 2. Best wishes.

  4. Very true..confidence and positive thinking is the key to crack clat, and I lost all of my confidence that day, so I could not make it.

  5. I love Aastha’s post, and have been through much of what she’s been through as well. I also am appreciative of female Kanak fans. 

    Jaaved Akhtar style: ‘Yeh ladki bahut aage jaayegi!”

  6. Hey. First off, you don’t  think you write well? Er, you do. Pretty well. Amazingly well actually. But I’m just going to presume you were being humble, so that’s that.
    Second, you helped. You really, really, really helped. And I also think we’ll all do just great, NLS or no. Besides, it doesn’t come with a guarantee of success, does it? It’s just the beginning of a looong journey. Super long. And, I find that you letting go of your fears and not holding on to something marginally increased your chances of making it. I think it does for everyone. 
    For what you and so many people have gone through, I realise our bones aren’t made of glass. We can take life’s knocks alright.  And we’re more than just a damned score or a rank or a number, aren’t we? Atleast give ourselves that much credit. Ha. Just saying. 
    Very well put. When written from the heart, no piece of writing can possibly be weak, meaning yours definitely is strong. Thanks a lot for sharing. You have the gift of persuasive writing. And with that kickass attitude to boot, you’ll go places.  🙂

    • Wow… thank you so much! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I love writing… And no, I wasn’t being very humble… This post came from my heart, like everything else I write, so I am glad I was able to connect 🙂 Your spirit is just right! Always remember that you are not defined by your score or your college. You choose who you are. I’m just a regular girl like you. Nothing different. Yes, this attitude came after a lot of bitter experiences. That is why I wrote such a long ramble telling people not to commit the same mistakes that I did. I am just very happy that I was able to help. All the very best for your future! 🙂  

  7. Lovely article Aastha. Quite motivating. 🙂 I hope to make my family proud someday, just like you did 😀

  8. You should really think of doing inspirational lectures! This is a brilliant piece! Good luck for law school 🙂

  9. When you mentioned you were not going to discuss prep strategy or good reference books, I was like ‘Oh well this in not really going to help me ‘, but read on anyway. But after i read it, wow!!! One of the best articles I’ve come across on CG! Truly inspiring 🙂 Thanks a lot 🙂

  10. everything u mentioned i have been through it cried, paniced, running away from mock , but i noe wat i have to do thank you ssooo much 🙂 hope i become ur junior soon…my geine will make my dream true (nlsiu):)

  11. HA!! Truly said…..even i was panicking before but after a few exams(and after a few Philosophical books) I realized that in the end the goal is to be happy…..so its best to do sumthing u r happy in doing and then u will surely exel in it

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