CSS and the Aspirants

The article is supposed to deal with the causes that lead to failure, complexes/ prejudices, guidance/ misguidance, self-actualization/ lack of self actualization, constructive and destructive forces with reference to the CSS aspirants, and to put forth strategies and solutions to overcome them.

During our struggle, we come across certain emotional, psychological, physical and financial barriers which try to mar our dedication, commitment, passion and sometimes, make us give up on our cherished dreams. Our Prejudices and Complexes fall in this category.

Prejudices and Complexes
Coming from diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds many of the nave minds develop complexes such as:

I belong to a poor family, my parents don’t know any influential person; I have no recommendations whereas Mr/Ms A’s father is a rich man / bureaucrat / senator, etc. Therefore, he would pass CSS and I would not.”

“I have studied in an average public school and can’t speak English fluently, whereas Mr/Ms B has studied in English medium schools/ colleges, so I should not even dream of competing them. I can’t win in competition with them!”

“I belong to the most backward and underdeveloped area of the motherland, whereas Mr/Ms C belongs to developed city, and thus has more exposure, so I can’t get anywhere closer to him/her in the competition.”

I am a B or C grader throughout my educational career, and there are hundreds of A, A+ graders, how I can compete with them. It is better do something else instead of appearing in CSS examination.”

“Thousands of candidates appear in CSS examination and only about 200 get allocated every year and I am not that good to be placed among the top 200 out of thousands.”

“Overconfident. I am very good at English language. I speak so fluently that I stun people, how they can fail me.”

“I am very good at writing articles, essays, so I need not work hard and study books to pass CSS examination and get allocated.”

These are some of our prejudices and complexes’ inferiority and superiority’ which are a destructive force.


Take a long breath when any of such thoughts cross your mind. Close your eyes for a while and look within, concentrate on your strengths, meet the determined and committed person within you who believes that you can achieve everything if you try.
What if you have not utilized your abilities and potentials to optimum till now, it is never too late.  You still can work up your potentials and attain what seems impossible. You have your chance now, go grab it!
If your parents were uneducated, so what! Think of the days and nights they spent to give you a better and more prosperous life than their own. Imagine the dreams deep in their heart about you. No! you can’t give up without trying. They have been fighting against all odds for you despite their limitations and  deprivation; it is your time to live up to their expectations.

What if you have studied at an average public school and have been a B or C grade student throughout, but you have your chance now to prove your mettle and show the world who you really are. You are not a child of lesser God. Let the world see that you can if you will. You can be exhausted but nothing can make you give up.

It is good that you have superior writing skills but, no, you should not take it easy and must add hard work to your talents to achieve what you deserve.

“It is of utmost importance to approach the right persons for guidance; the ones who have trodden the path themselves and have experience. They are the right people to get guidance from.”
Guidance / Misguidance
A CSS aspirant Mr/Ms A is unable to decide whether he/she should take International Relations as an optional subject or not. In confusion’ and in purely naive and sincere though not wise effort’ he/she approaches a Civil Services Officer or a famous English Language professor who has earned a name in teaching CSS aspirants but they both have not studied International Relations as a subject, particularly, for CSS examination. They approve or disapprove according to their information – which is most of the time based upon either their whims, reports of some students or certainly their own liking or disliking. Do you think the person has done him/her a great favour? Is he their benefactor? Whatever he is, he is not their benefactor. When one has not trodden a path, how can one lead others!

The point is, it is of utmost importance to approach the right persons for guidance; the ones who have trodden the path themselves and have experience. They are the right people to get guidance from. Tell your guide all about your aptitude and previous academic record. Don’t ever panic; control your nerves and step forward with confidence.

Self-Actualization / Lack of Self-Actualization

Ask yourself what you are here for! For wealth, fame, popularity, the dream counterpart or worshipping God! Do you think that becoming a Civil Service Officer would satisfy your thirst and you would not crave for more?

Well, irrespective of your caste, colour and creed; if you take a little time and ponder, your answer would be NO. It is not the destination, that ends.

“Know thyself”, said the great philosopher Socrates; perhaps, one of the most precised pieces of advice ever given by the wisest minds on the face of this earth. One is supposed to be focused for actualization and once you get connected to your own self, downloading starts and actualization depends upon the speed of downloading which ultimately depends upon the focus and intensity of strife. It may take, as I said earlier, the whole term of your natural life because your ‘self’ is a complicated being, perhaps, the most complicated, specially, for you. So complicated that Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, the wisest among the men of his times, was forced to say:

“The more I know, I come to know how little I know.”

Thus determine your destination, define and differentiate between the ends and means, stay focused and there you are treading towards your actualization!

Ask yourself,

  • “Who I am?”
  • “What do I want?”
  • “Why do I want it?”
  • “Am I doing it for self, power or position?”
  • “Am I a megalomaniac?”
  • “Am I doing it for my family or for myself?”
  • “What can lead me to it?”
  • “Would the path I am choosing lead me to my destination?”
Whatever the case is, it would give you strength and courage to work for the effect. The more stimulating is the cause, the higher would be the effect.

But you must differentiate between being focused and being abnormal. Shutting yourself in four walls because you are preparing for CSS, is a sign of abnormality. It is not going to do you any good, nor is it desirable or recommendable. We need to be moderate. Secluding you from the normal routine of life is not commendable. You need to adjust balance within yourself so that you do not lose anything. I would not recommend that you should not go for a walk or dinner, or you should not read magazines or poetry because it is not part of CSS syllabus. Remember, your intellect and the soul need food the same way your body does.

“But you must differentiate between being focused and being abnormal. Shutting yourself in four walls because you are preparing for CSS, is a sign of abnormality. It is not going to do you any good, nor is it desirable or recommendable. We need to be moderate.”
Never forget you are working for your actualization. Live a normal life with satisfaction and contentment, and without regrets of the present that would become past soon.

Constructive and Destructive forces

Constructive and destructive forces are always at work simultaneously, perhaps, with equal force that balances the world. We build and we destroy ourselves most of the time and put the blame on others. But then it is not always us who willingly or consciously destroy ourselves, but somehow we are responsible as our actions stimulate the reactions. We want to retain our self-respect, but we still prompt others to do the otherwise. For example, Mr/Ms A is a student who is punished by the teacher in front of the classmates for not doing his/her homework. Unjust! Is it that the teacher didn’t care about his/her self-respect! No, It is not so. He has done him/her no harm. It is him/her who has done so. If someone cares so much about his/her self-respect, he/she should have done his/her homework and had not provided the teacher with the opportunity to amuse himself by punishing him/her. In this case, an un-actualized self is working as a destructive force, and we do not even know that. It does not mean you are not worthy human being: the exalted creature; it is just that you have not worked on yourself properly.
“Our Self ‘the character, the person, the soul’ can be as much bright and polished as we put effort to make it so, or on the other hand it can be as much dull and clumsy as we have made it so, consciously or unconsciously.”
 Yes, Self ‘the character, the person we have developed’ works either as constructive or destructive force or both simultaneously, just like these forces work in the world around us. Now, please, do not give way to your complexes or prejudices that your parents or teachers could not do justice with your grooming, and it can’t be set right or that you are like that by nature. You can always re-engineer your ‘self’ and you can do that anytime, unconcerned of whether you are young or old; it is only that the force you can apply to mould your ‘self’ varies at different stages of life. Perseverance, patience, tolerance, generosity, austerity, moderation, and hard work are the constructive components of your ‘self’ that you can attain at any stage of your life, if you get focused and work on them. On the other hand, insolence, gullibility, hopelessness, incorrigibility, and unscrupulousness are the destructive components of the ‘self’ and you can attain them as well at any stage of your life. Our ‘self’ is at work continuously, it is developing every moment and we do not even realize that. We abuse someone and do not even realize what irreparable harm it has done to our person and on the other hand, helping someone selflessly gives an immeasurable strength to your person too. Our ‘self’ the character, the person, the soul ‘can be as much bright and polished as we put effort to make it so, or on the other hand, it can be as much dull and clumsy as we have made it so, consciously or unconsciously.

There are the people with whom we interact during the span of life and one way or the other they influence us but we always have the choice to digest or ooze out this influence. No one can make or break you if you do not allow them. Many wars would not have been lost if only the inhabitants of those lands had not conspired with the enemy. We are conquered when our ‘self’ conspires with the one trying to make or break us. Sometimes our poor financial conditions obstruct our way to progress and that is the time when we must stand steadfast: that we can be destroyed but not defeated.

We know our aptitude better than anyone else. It is we who know deep in heart, which are the subjects we are good at. Once you choose – whichever subjects may be- work well on them, grasp the essence and you can score great. There are many things we do for the first time and it does not mean we do not do them well always. Remember, once you were not able to write alphabets or you could not spell ‘elephant’ right but can you do it now? You have the answer. It always matters how you take things and work on them. It is you who can make or break; God does not do injustice to anyone.

The writer is Deputy Director (Program)at Pakistan Institute of Trade and development Government of Pakistan.

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