22 Jan 2023 10 min Read

How Rejections And Pain Helped Me Achieve What Was Truly Meant For Me

– Siddesh Shankar's Story

Who Am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of experiencing life and a career abroad, ever since I was a young boy.

The one goal that I’ve forever been fixated on is to build a life that I truly loved.

For quite a while now, I’ve yearned to move out, become independent, do what I love and experience a life beyond my current limitations.

But I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this. Despite the lack of clarity, I made a promise to myself during my final year of engineering that I would pursue a Master’s in Europe and give it my everything. I was ready to do whatever it took. And so, I began working towards this goal.

Like most young people, I lacked clarity about what exactly I wanted to pursue, but I was always certain that I wanted to explore different domains in order to find something that would genuinely interest me.

When 2020 came and brought COVID along with it, everything changed completely. For a while, I found the isolation of the lockdown comforting, my fellow introverts reading this might be able to relate. But gradually I realised how it was starting to affect me mentally.

My Application Process

By this time, college placements had started, but I was still firm about my decision of wanting to explore and thus barely sat for interviews.

I focused instead on building my CV, and I did it meticulously. Confident in my efforts, I started to prepare my documents for the applications and found a wonderful mentor to guide me through the process.

I took a break year to wait out the uncertainty of the global situation due to COVID-19.

I focused all my efforts on perfecting my documents. I would sit at my desk all day trying to fine-tune them. Ultimately, I was positively optimistic that I was well prepared for my application process and would get admitted to my dream university or program.

When the application period started, I applied for as many universities and programs as I could find, around 20 programs to be specific.

I put in countless hours personalising the documents for every single application. At the end of March 2022, I’d finished all my work. At this point, I was relieved to have completed it and I could finally sit back and wait for my results.

It was at this point that everything started to go south. A series of events in my personal life and the complete lack of a social life had me on my knees, but that was not all.

I was unaware that the European system did not consider my Mechanical Engineering degree equivalent to the “Material Science and Engineering” program I was applying for.

As a result, I was deemed not of a relevant background to the programs and I started getting rejection replies from the programs I’d worked so hard to apply for. This shattered me.

At that moment, my efforts began to seem meaningless, but all I could do was wait and wait. After I returned home one day, tired and constantly overthinking things, I saw that I had gotten a reply from the European School of Material Sciences (EUSMAT) saying that the screening committee had selected me.

This was the programme that I had least expected to get into, so I was on cloud nine! Even though I was happy for a few days, the fact that I didn't receive any scholarships or the fact that this was a little too different from what I really wanted to pursue started to trouble me.

I then understood that it was high time that I made some changes. I applied for manufacturing and other related mechanical subjects now instead. I also applied for two EIT manufacturing programs, as my twin brother had already been selected for one.

A few weeks later, I got an admission offer to EITM People and Robots for Sustainable Work, which was the same one my brother was admitted to.

About a day later, I received the news that I had also been granted a scholarship for this. That was such a pleasant moment for me. It was all that I’d been dreaming about!

Even though it was not the exact program that I wanted to pursue when I first started this process, it’s certainly the one that interests me the most now and one that feels right.

The Road Ahead

I’m now presented with a wonderful opportunity for international mobility along with the option of studying in the two most beautiful places that I’ve always dreamt of visiting — Switzerland and Vienna.

As the saying from Steve Jobs’ famous commencement speech goes, “you can only connect the dots in your life looking back”.

I never intended to do my current course but it’s what was truly meant for me. All in all, it has turned out to be the best choice, even though I had never imagined it to be when I first started the application process.

Everything is an experience, and a lesson to always remember is to just give it your everything and be assured that there is always a rainbow at every corner. You can’t predict what will happen to you and how it will benefit your future.

So just put in the work and have faith that life will work out in the best way possible for you.

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