It’s a relative term. Hear me out.
Sometimes, despite how hard you work, how many all nighters you pull, and how much you give up on those small pleasures (like not being able to watch your favourite movie on TV because there’s a test next day), everything seems to just go down the drain and you start feeling like you are standing where you started. You feel you are inefficient and insignificant. Why? Because you don’t get the right results.
I read The Bhagvad Gita a lot, and I’m pretty sure many of you (even if you haven’t actually read the book) might be familiar with this verse.
Karmaņy ev’ādhikāras te
mā phaleşu kadācana /
mà karma-phala-hetur bhūr-
mā te sango’stv akarmaņi // Chapter2; 47
To work alone you have competence, and not to claim their fruits. Let not the longing for fruits be the motive force of your action. At the same time let not this attitude conform you in indolent inaction.
What does this mean? That the efficiency of your efforts are not in direct relation to your results. That, irrespective of how low the results obtained might seem at the moment, you will definitely be recognized somewhere in some other point in life. The effort you have put in, will not go in waste.
When I first joined my Pre-university, I had no idea about how different things were going to be, when compared to school. The subjects became many times tougher and despite trying hard, my marks showed otherwise. Especially when many others of my class found the same work a cakewalk. From a fairly recognized student at school I straight up went onto become a nobody. Of course the teachers were very helpful and always asked us to approach them for counselling, but I also had hesitation problems. I wouldn’t answer in class even if I thought I knew the answer fearing they’d be wrong (I still have this problem, though it’s a lot better now). I also felt these were first world problems and it was probably just because I had troubles in adjusting in a new environment.
This went on until one parent-teacher’s meet, where one of my teachers actually brought out my behaviour in front of my dad. Though it was definitely painful to hear it aloud about how much negatively I was taking the whole situation, comparing myself with other students, trying to better the condition by not trying further because Hey, afterall this topic anyway doesn’t go into my head, does it? Then why try harder. Just go to sleep early, when life becomes unbearable.
Of course I had to think things through after that. This depressing attitude had been going on for too long, with no results. So I did try to change the way I looked at things. Tried to love the subject instead of worrying about the result. It worked well for biology, which is my favourite subject. The marks too were pretty encouraging. I no longer sat in the exam hall contemplating my fate. But despite making notes and important points for chem and physics, it just remained where it was. I also had trouble remembering things, and that made me angry because I felt if I couldn’t remember what I had read last week then what was the use of studying it? And the fact that I did not really like physics that much did not help either.
I still feel the same now, sometimes. Especially, when a test went bad or I could not complete the scheduled works. But trust me, it’s a lot better now. Having friendly conversations with my parents, approaching my teachers and friends in times of anxiety about an oncoming schedule and of course reading The Gita has always seemed to help. Talking to others I also realized I wasn’t the only one with problems. Sometime my problems were bigger, sometimes they were small. I learned to respect mine and others’ problems nevertheless because afterall they are all disguised learning lessons.
Inefficiency is a label that either you put on yourself or others put on you. When you put it yourself, analyse if it’s the effort or the result that has become the shortcoming for a good life. If it’s the effort, then work to improve yourself without comparing yourself to others. If it’s the result, don’t worry, it’s not in your hands. If it’s the others who have put the label, then judge carefully whether they mean well or is it just to make you feel down. Don’t let any negative impacts from the outside prick your own special bubble, because that is what contains who you really are. And no one else than you know perfectly who you are. So keep it going, and never stop smiling!