-I didn't get full marks in my dictation test!
-Don't worry MG. It doesn't matter.
-I didn't become the Primary School Section head!
-Its ok MG. Nobody will pay attention to these kind of posts down the line
-My rank went down! I have gone from 4th rank to the 10th rank this half-yearly exam!
-Doesn't matter MG. Nobody will ever bother about these school marks of yours later
-I screwed up my 10th board exam!
-Doesn't matter! Won't make a difference to your future!
-I didn't get full marks in Science in my 12th boards!
-Its ok. You got good enough marks to get into a good university. Whether or not you got full marks won't make a difference.
I have found all that to be true. No matter how scary it is at that point of time, when people told me that certain things, like getting full marks in boards, don't matter because they don't make a difference, they were right. Nobody cares now what marks I got and I sure as hell didn't need full marks there to get admission in a good place. It didn't matter that I didn't write IIT-JEE exam like the million others who do it just because someone else wants them to. It didn't matter that I wasn't in the top ranks for the one entrance exam that I did write. Even though I got worked up about such things, I have come to realise that none of those things affect me today and will never affect me in future.
Since then, I have tried to see if any situation in my life that gets me down will affect me in the long run. If the answer is no, then no point worrying about it. And the answer has almost always been, "No, it won't make a difference a few years down the line". Pretty simple. All in black and white.
I always thought my plan was very straightforward - get a bachelor's degree in Science, masters and then Ph.D. Then either start working or on to post doc. Now it doesn't seem that easy. And I can't seem to make things simpler or less stressful by analysing whether it will make a difference down the line. The answer is always a "maybe" or "perhaps" or "I don't know". Nothing is as plain as it used to be
-I didn't get time to go to the career fair to submit my resume for a summer internship. Will it affect my future and my chances at an impressive resume?
-I had class till such and such time and by the time I went to register for the career fair, all the vacancies were filled! Will it affect anything?
-I am so swamped with work, be it lab or normal courses, and I don't have time to study for GRE. Will it affect anything?
-I may not get the best recommendation letter from my prof because I didn't get stellar results for my project. Will it affect my admission to graduate school or my job opportunities in a good lab?
-I think so
Shit! When did my simple plan for my simple life become so complex and puzzling? :(