When you almost make it!

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Hi, it’s Sunday night 2am (technically it’s Monday now) and I’m just done submitting my Mozfest 2018 proposal which was probably overdue since last month (we all are hell of procrastinators, right?).

While I was submitting it, I went through my last year’s proposal wherein I recalled that how close was I last time making it to the event (couldn’t attend due to short availabltiy of travel stipends).

Then followed a series of flashbacks about the instances when I “almost made it”, where I’d have changed my life drastically if that “almost” word wasn’t there.

I remember last year approximately during this time, I was selected for two proposals at EuroPython (which is possibly one of the largest Python even in Europe), and I decided not to attend due to the similar reasons of lacking travel stipend. Going there would have costed me more than two thirds of my GSoC stipend (which was a big deal to me at that time). Yeah, money is a bummer sometimes, and I still doubt if I made the right choice or not.

Anyways, money is not always the thing that stands in way. Sometimes, it’s just lack of my skills. I remember couple of months back we (me and my team) almost have won Angelhack Delhi if any of us spoke up to answer general questions thrown at us during our final interview with the judges-panel (we all knew the right answers that could have worked, but panicked at the moment, and just couldn’t speak them out). And that’s not one instance, lack of social skills had been a bummer to me (specifically) in most of the hackathons I’ve attended. I remember once some saying to me, “I know you can make nice stuff, but if you can’t sell it, it’s effectively useless for everyone else”. Initially, selling was something I considred to be fluff. But slowly and gradually I realized that sometimes, it’s the “only” thing that you gotta do nicely to turn things into your favor. I’m still not good at all at selling, but I know it’s importance in this world. On a similar note, having good speaking skills would have definitely fetch me at least 5 percent more in my university results (I don’t care about getting more marks btw, it’s just I don’t like losing them due to some other attribute than the knowledge of the topic).

And sometimes it’s not even social skills or lack of money/resources, it’s me being slightly less prepared than I should have been. I remember when I was almost through my final round of GS (Hong Kong) interview for Summer Internship, and in the last few minutes they gave me some programming question which I solved but not with optimal approach (since it was the first time I saw that kind of question in my life). The most surprising thing to me was I read around 230 pages of some programming questions book (within a couple of weeks) to prepare for the interview, I hung up reading 30 mins before the interview, so as to relax and chill a bit, and the question that was asked to me was on the very next page from the position I paused reading. At that time I blamed it on “luck”, but now when I see back, I was less prepared.

Sometimes it’s plain stupidity from my end. I had always found working in some tech company in a tech-frontier city abroad to be quite fascinating. I have applied to hundreds (if not thousands) of companies and rightly received rejections from them (because if now I retrospect on those application, I didn’t deserved them). But there had been instances too when I kind of overworked on my application (with high expectations of getting in because I very much felt deserved) later to be disappointed. This happened to me when I was filing an application for internship at Disney through some fellowship like program they had wherein I had to prepare a “creative” 5 min video answering a few questions, and fill out a pretty long application form. I did everything I could to make sure I was selected (made cover letter, learned animations and graphic effects to apply to my video, add disney filters to my video, tailor my resume and what not). And within two seconds of my submitting application, I got a rejection mail, lol. I was pissed off at that moment, and asked the concerned contact person if there’s a bug in their “automated” system. And then as it turns out, I realized that I missed just one thing, read the last point in those godamn T&C with 10px font size where it was written “Applicants should be US/Europe citizens”.

I have been even more stupid too (saving those instances for sometime later). And sometimes, it’s none of the above factors, and that’s when I think it’s luck (or randomness, until I figure out what I did wrong). There have been instances when I was confident about me getting through but I didn’t. And then when I retrospect, I still couldn’t figure out what went wrong. It happened with my intern interviews with Tower Research Capital and Expedia. I still don’t know what I did wrong there. Happened with my applications to PyCons (the ones accepted by EuroPython were right away rejected by PyCon India, and other Pycons). For conferences, sometimes I got the travel stipend but failed to get the proposal accepted, and sometimes it was the other way round. Sometimes I did apply for the sake of applying initially, later to know in feedback if I had done a little more effor I might have made through. I’m yet to make it into a reputed conference as a speaker for all those reasons. I hope I make it to one someday to justify all the effort I’ve put in (which reminds me of Stoic philosophy’s principle that just doing the right thing is enough, rewards and recognition are often complementary and not in your control)

Nowadays, when I’m working full time, I hate the fact that I don’t get enough time to fill in applications for such events (I used to spend entire weeks on some of them, and now I just got a few hours per week that I can spend). Anyways, I did manage an entire day out this time to work on my Mozfest 2018 proposal (and I feel so good about it), hope I make it this time…

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