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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Working Life Status Quo or Change? Questioning Self

Yesterday I entered into the 10th year of my working life.
Life in the city began 9 years ago when I walked into my ex-office, all apprehensive, eager and raring to go.
I was a mere trainee but none the less in terms of attitude, expectations and opinion.
I wanted to learn as much as possible, spent hours dogging the experienced ones, learning, soaking, absorbing every new thing that came my way. For in the business of fragrances, no great MBA degree would help. It all depended ultimately on your smelling, relating and recalling skills. It was all a game of aptitude, attitude and creativity rather than plain degrees.
It meant you have to remember details, correlate experiences and above all be extremely curious. It meant smelling a new perfume or a chemical and searching the depths of your memory and extracting the most relevant one so that you could learn, commit to memory and classify this new perfume that you have experienced. It meant picking up this new perfume out of your memory or physical records and submitting at the time of a new project. It required constant oiling of wheels and practice unfolding each dimension of the fragrance in our mind's eyes.
I am a kind of person who gets comfortable with status quo and thrfore I thought fragrances will remain my first & last love and I would end up staying in the fragrance industry if not the same company. But after 7 plus years, I changed. Not just the company but also the category- I moved from fragrance to flavour and it has taken more than a year for me to realize that I am enjoying working in flavours as much if not more than fragrances in terms of the creative width it gives me. There is always a new project to work on and new concept to generate or new ideas to think of.
And here comes the conflict-I am enjoying it here & am comfortable but do I want to spend a lifetime doing just this? Nothing new to do/ explore/ try out? Do I want to spend my entire life working for someone else and dreaming of flexi time and other convenient arrangements? After all we work to get easy access to pleasure and then we cannot take time off from work to splurge the money on a holiday or pleasure. We look to work hard now and enjoy later. But how soon is later? Is it anytime now or when we get old and tired and are nearing retirement.

In the last 9 years, I have hated, loved and become comfortable in Chennai city. I have reached a plateaue in terms of expectations and amazement for the city that has modernised right before my eyes. The IT parks never fail to fascinate me and those are the times when I wish that I should have taken IT as a career or atleast have an office in such a location. There was a time when Spencer mall was the hangout in Chennai and today we are lagging behind malls of Gurgaon / Bangalore etc.
At this juncture, I am facing a conflict of sorts- do I want to end up living my entire working life in this one city itself? When I retire from working life, will I regret not taking a chance? Will hubby agree? He seems to be pretty much wedded to Chennai.

I got married, bought an apartment (on EMI) in a prime location, got pregnant, had 2 lovely kids to show off, and now they are going to start school next month. On the face of it, what more could one want? A bigger house (with EMI paid up), better location, more doesn't end anytime.
I managed to hold on to my job through this despite conflicting emotions of not giving enough time and attention to the kids.
Now what? Is in't it a little late in the day for hoping to explore more cities for living? After so much of time and investment in identifying the correct school here? After Hubby started his business here?
What is my net worth today- few close friends, family, rare personal phone calls, hardly a place where I could land unanounced and still get invited to stay for dinner, a handful of people who would care enough to take my child to the toilet if needed or pay for my food without making me feel obliged to pay back or return the favour. Can my children call any house here as the one where they almost lived in their childhood apart from their own home? The sort of homes where you are always in & out of, you can do a pajama party & sleepovers- a little too soon for me to think about as they have not yet reached the age when they pick & choose their buddy?
Am I going to end up feeling sorry that I did nothing different from status quo all this while? Thinking I did not enjoy life at all? As I take each day as it comes, I am happy. But from a wholistic point of view, I am not sure the resume of my life will be full of variety.


Sunita Venkatachalam said...

I think all of us go through this from time to time, a reassesing of priorities. Esp on milsetone dates like this..

Firstly, 10 years despite all the difficulties with being a working woman/mom - hats of to you. I hope you do realise how hard you've worked here to get that EMI paid off! A dream that so many take so long to fulfil.

That said, I don't think it's the wrong time for you to think of taking some sort of a sabbatical maybe. But if you do take a sabbatical what would you do? Now that the twins start school and will get busy with their own lives. I don't know Itchy wish I had some answers. But I do know that there's more to life than just working hard and enjoying 'later'.

Sometimes I read about those people who choose to take an entire year of their lives out and travel the world around and wonder if I'll ever have the guts to do that.

I'm not helping much am I?

Itchingtowrite said...

poppins- EMI not yet paid off yaar!! trying to get my hands on a big loot to pay it off. I think I shud start buying lotterty tickets now.
i am sort of feeling tied down after putting them in school. when thy were not in school, they wer too young to be taken anywhere. like i can nevr plan a trip (bus/ personal) & then take thm with m becoz 2 todlers + luggage not an easy cake. now that they r old enuf. i cannot becoz of the school.

Mama - Mia said...

like PM said, i guess all of us go through this. lucky are the people who really know what they like and then do it too!

just few days ago was reading an article on people retiring at 40! planning their finances perfectly wit their fat software salaries and then following their dreams!

maybe you dont need to fret so much about the future now. am sure you will figure out a way of figuring out whats best for all of you!

and yeah a sabbatical may not be a bad idea if you have nice boss who understands! i have seen people getting all charged up after that. or finding a new way of life!

till then dont forget to count your blessings too! :)



Andy said...

Hi Itchy,

I know where u r comming from? We have partners who havnt ventured far, are happy in their cocoons(their friends and relatives) and cant think of giving it all up for a little excitement and adventure in life. We, who have been nomads but naturally find it very restless after a few years. Agreed we are achieiving what we perhaps set out for...well paying jobs, flats,cars, good schools for our kids....but that was the beginning of our wish list not the end...we are perhaps just approching our mid-life and its very unsatisfactory to be content....we want to have (to borrow a phrase) "miles to go" but with a partner, kids and a "comfortable" mindset can we? will we?

By Deepa and Supriya said...

vow that was an honest post filled with such deep introspection...u know part of the solution is asking the questions..but you do know you have choices, so just make sure you go through each one of the end if you chose status quo...that's ok too!

Anonymous said...

My big suggestion is that yes, your thoughts are part of everyone's lives... will my baby (or babies) be able to cope with a new city, should I change schools, should I restrict my career geographically etc., However, from experience I know that I get my moments of peace when I follow something my heart tells me to do. I have been trying to learn a new language, never mind that I may never visit the country of the origin of the language or a friend of mine has picked up music at the age of 30. So, my take is that beyond all of this, we need to have something that gives us a deeper satisfaction of 'achievement'... work, family, money never seems to help do that. What is your deep desire? What have YOU wanted to do additionally?

Itchingtowrite said...

mamma mia- actually retiring at 40 doesn't seems an attractiv proposition. but again nobody wants to take on these uncertainitys
andy-there may be limitations but can we atleast try to break free of them? actually the problem is that there are too many factors and variables- making it difficult to take a call
orchid- yes if we reasses every few years our positions - we cud come with alternate paths. after all- u hav to take one of the many paths- each will be good & once one path is taken- u will never know what the other path would have been- better or worse
anon-u hav really set me thinking- who r u? do u blog? can i hop in? come to think of it- i always wanted to train in music- u give me hopes when u talk of your friend- tried twice & had to quit & now my priorities have shifted... i want to travel.. i think it needs to be put into a post

Just Like That said...

one is never satisfied, even when so many things get given to yu maybe no on a platter, but given all the same.
When I earned my first salary of 3500/-, all I wanted was for it to be at least 5 000/-, then for it to reach five figure nos... now even when I do have enough money to be happy with, the wants are never ending... in the midst of it all, I want to spend time with my baby too, and how do I do that?? very confusing, Itchy, no answers here either

Itchingtowrite said...

JLT- i guess like everything else, the bnchmarks move!!

Collection Of Stars said...

These are the exact same questions I have been asking myself recently. And, these questions are what have made me decide to quit or take a sabbatical or whatever. My plan is to take a break and then get into something new. I hope I have the guts to venture into something new. But whatever it is that I do, I don't think I want to get back to a full time job. I want to spend time with KT.