Most people in my family or amongst my relatives and many even amongst my old friends do not understand what am I doing with my life. After all the hard work of years – studying hard, clearing exams, getting through IIT and IIM, having a Computer Science+MBA degree, why would I not want to “settle down”? Why am I slogging through a start-up with and an uncertain financial future? Most people think I have lost my mind. The most sympathetic amongst them said, “There is a very thin line between being a genius and being crazy… She might be walking on that thin line.”
I have never had a good answer for them. Passion, dreams, independence, thrill of creating something new – none of it makes enough sense somehow. So, today I am going to try explaining this with an analogy.
All the people who do not understand why I would not just “settle down” have been seen being ready to give their lives over of one or more of the following things.
- Finding suitable matches for the marriageable girls and boys in their family, for their relatives, neighbours, relatives of neighbours, neighbours of relatives, neighbours of neighbours, relatives of relatives and so on…
- Ensuring that they always treat their sensitive relationships (in-laws of sister/brother/son/daughter/nephews/nieces, son-in-laws of their own/their brothers/their sisters/all other relatives’ – in a nut shell in-laws and son-in-laws of the entire extended family) in a manner befitting the importance of such relationships. Never should they feel let down by the hospitality, showering of respect and gifts, value of gifts and so on…
- Celebrating all festivals in its full glory, cooking the prescribed dishes, performing the prescribed rituals…
- (Mostly for women) Performing all the difficult fastings intended for the long age of the husband/children without fail, year after year…
Life is complicated with all of this for them. Its a challenge – every festival, every fasting, every marriageable son/daughter in the extended family, every visit by a “sensitive” relative… And every time they get through any of these successfully, there is a sense of relief and achievement. Subtly or sometimes not so subtly, they will boast about their success. Others will also appreciate and envy them for these successes.
As far as a job and career is concerned the intelligent thing to do, according to them, is to get the best you can and then stick to it and try and progress with it. Work for the next promotion or the next raise. If it does not come, there is always a next time. If working in a modern economy industry, look for a job change at suitable intervals. They are settled down. They don’t go around doing crazy/innovative things with their jobs and careers.
They have their challenges and they have their area for “settling down”.
Cut to my perspective.
As far as I am concerned, the intelligent things for me to do are
- To love and respect all my relatives and friends so long as they do not try to take unnecessary advantage of me
- Participate in their happiness and mournings, help them when needed and when I can, but not interfere in their lives – definitely not fret about marrying people off . Happily attend any weddings so long as it can be done without burdening myself down with heavy jewelry.
- Enjoy the festivals. Even conduct some rituals for fun, when they are not too difficult, but never take them seriously. They are dispensable, when other important things are waiting.
- Never give in to the idea that even the most difficult of the fasts could do anything to increase the life span of my loved ones!
You know what! I am pretty “settled down” in all of these. I don’t need to think of each of these as a challenge to be met with and conquered.
But I have my own challenges. My challenge is in my career, in what I do with my professional life, in my entrepreneurial dreams, in trying to create something from scratch.
So, ultimately me and them are not really so different. Without challenges life would be boring. We all need challenges. Let me repeat, we all need challenges. I have selected my challenge, which is different from the challenges they have selected. Individual personality and individual circumstances will have a role to play in that selection, but with this viewpoint, hopefully it starts making more sense as to why would I not just settle down!
They don’t give up on their festivals and fastings and poojas in their search for peace and God. I don’t give up experimenting with my career in my search for my calling in life. We are the same!