I was born in an era where your life goals were determined before you say your first words. My family held an army of engineers or doctors, and as ‘an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, I was destined to be an engineer.
But, you only realise your true calling when you reverse the obvious thinking and that’s what happened for me. Here’s my journey:
Lesson 1: Choose something that doesn’t fit your personality
I was a tomboy borrowing baggy clothes from my elder brother and competing on who could eat more. Hence, it was a shocker when I received a modelling offer. I should have sensibly declined it, choosing a sport as a more aligned career choice to my persona, but instead, I choose to model as my first career path. What I learnt was to be comfortable in my own skin, no matter how people perceived me.
Not long after, it was pointed that I had only a few years left in the field. I was a modelling ‘oldie’ at twenty-one and working towards completing my engineering in computer science.
Lesson 2: Don’t follow the scripted route
Sense prevailed as I decided to focus on campus placements. I got through a top IT consulting firm with decent pay. In a few years, I would have enjoyed the well-known path to success, however, a newspaper article changed it all. DreamWorks Animations was to open a centre in India. It was a risk, betting on a new company, but exciting nonetheless. I decided to make a cold call to the company by writing to them and I ended up with a job. I enjoyed the work and it helped me develop tolerance towards diverse perspectives.
Lesson 3: Be fickle-minded
Enjoying an intimate relationship with my computer, it occurred to me how little I understood people. By this time, I was married and we had just moved cities. I started a fresh job search and eventually got hired as a project manager at Lakshya, a gaming company. My role was beyond project plans and balance sheets. It involved people. I was managing the artists as well as clients, basically two sides of the same coin who refused to see eye to eye. It was tough, trying to empathise with teammates while expecting them to run like machines around the clock. However, they taught me the value of teamwork. We enjoyed mutual respect and trust.
Lesson 4: Throw it all away
We were expecting and I was excited to be enlightened by my new guru: my baby! Being responsible for a team is one thing, but being responsible for a tiny human is totally different. A sense of patience instilled from my previous job became the base of my relationship with my new guru. My boss baby expected me to use my creativity to come up with innovative ideas around healthy eating. He ensured that I worked hard towards building my fitness levels, he would hold a tell-tale test before bed, demanding stories which he had never heard before. Without realising, I had picked up skills which were beyond my job profile – motherhood. I was now a healthy eater, a fitness freak, a spontaneous storyteller and a writer.
My guru taught me my most important lesson ever: While it was good to focus on another life, it was important to focus on self as well.
Lesson 5: Be a jack of all trades, master of one(self)
As I look back, the one thing that remained constant was change. I never sustained a skill but kept accumulating many more, making me the master in myself. It was a risky choice to make. Many times, I had to start anew and hence didn’t grow as quickly as I would have, had I kept at it. But then, I would have regretted not having taken that risk or living a dream. It wasn’t an ideal way to success, but it did guide me towards my true calling.
The lessons I acquired over the years seemed far too important to be cherished alone. I also realised that the more I shared, the more deeply I understood the teachings myself. Today, I am a writer. I am also a yoga and fitness trainer focused on keeping mothers fit.
I don’t believe for once that this is my final calling. A career choice could be a destination for many, but to me, it’s a journey to get to know myself better – it’s the journey within.
This article is a part of our #CareerIsAJourney series. If you have a story about changing careers, discovering yourself along the way, and finding something that truly makes you happy, write to us and we’ll get in touch.