Intense Competition — Should I Quit?


I'm a 21 year old student pursuing my degree at an institute known for its academic rigor. It's been a month since the classes started, and I'm finding it extremely difficult to manage here. Although Guruji's teachings and Kriya give me some solace, the intense competition has made me lose confidence in myself, and I'm worried all the time. I'm neither able to concentrate on studies, nor eat or even sleep as a result. The pressure seems to be getting to me, and I'm even contemplating quitting. Pls help

—Yash, India


Dear Yash,

Thank you for your question. I’m sorry things are so difficult. I faced a situation that was in some ways similar: when I was 21 I entered a very rigorous institute and found the competition to be severe — at a level I had never experienced before. I began to doubt myself: in a way suffered from the “Imposter Complex” which says, “I don’t really belong here. I got accepted by mistake. As soon as the school finds out, they’ll throw me out.”

Now, is your school good for you? Should you stay? Only you can decide that. One the one hand, nothing is worth sacrificing your peace of mind for. On the other hand, perhaps life is offering you this opportunity to grow?

In any case, to make the right decision, you’ll want to get calm. This meditation from Swami Kriyananda may help:

For much of their lives, people live in dread of this thing or that thing going wrong. Think of a potential difficulty, but not one that is crushing in the common view like the death of someone beloved, or utter failure in business, or the loss of everything you hold dear. I won’t ask you to try mentally to rise above catastrophes, although life will surely ask you, someday, to transcend everything you really dread, if only because that very dread is a magnet which attracts to itself what it fears, just as a joy-filled expectation must be fulfilled, someday.

Concentrate rather then, instead, on some difficulty you think you could handle. Then meditate on facing that difficulty, not with rejection but with an inner joy that can’t be touched or affected by that outer circumstance. Suppose you lose an important client. Or supposing a colleague sues you in the courts, or attacks you in the media. Or suppose your income suddenly slips owing to the loss of some investment.

Mentally look that circumstance in the face, and tell yourself, “I am not that circumstance! Whatever happens, I am complete and joyful in myself.”

The more you practice this attitude of mind, the more you will find it easy and natural. Nothing that can ever happen to you is really you, yourself!

Swamiji also gives this affirmation:

“I am complete in myself. Joy is my normal state of mind. No blow of outer circumstance can ever touch me!”

(This is from Success and Happiness through Yoga Principles, Lesson 20: Joy in Business.)

We are praying for you, Yash!