Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Last Ten Years

This past decade has been quite eventful for me – I left home for college, I met people who would become some of my best friends, my long held ambition of going to one of the country’s best b-schools was fulfilled, I fell in and out of love, I met the guy who I would eventually marry, I became financially independent, I learnt to love the work I was doing, and I also found the courage to leave behind a steady job and income to do something else. Phew! So much of my life till now took place in the last 10 years!

So today I decided I am going to write about the five most important lessons I’ve learnt in the last 10 years, with the hope that the lessons I’ve learnt in this past decade will serve me in good stead in the next decade.

·           It’s okay if things don’t happen the way you planned. I was all set to go to Delhi for undergrad when an unexpected setback saw me end up in Hyderabad. I was miserable there for the first year because things didn’t turn out the way they had planned. Once I managed to let go of my misery, I actually enjoyed myself in Hyderabad. And made friends who till date remain some of my best friends, people who are among the first I turn to in times of trouble and need or in times of happiness – and for that reason, I am so grateful that life didn’t go the way I had planned.
When I didn’t get into IIMA, I was rather upset because that’s where I had planned to be. Now, if I could turn back time, nothing would induce me to go anywhere except be, for how would I have met Nike otherwise? And these two experiences have taught me that life will not go as I’ve planned it and that sometimes, for reasons unknown to us, that’s for the best!

·           Sometimes it’s best to learn to let go. While I get along easily with people I meet for the first time, I take a long time to make friends. But once someone is a friend, they are a friend for life. I’m the kind of person who will forgive a friend anything, and hang on tenaciously to the friendship. However, over the past few years, I’ve learnt to let go of friends when I felt they aren’t interested anymore. And it’s been a hard lesson to learn. When I think of the friends who aren’t really friends anymore, for various reasons, it breaks my heart – and yet, I no longer have it in me to doggedly keep up a one-sided friendship.

·           You aren’t always the person you think you are. Because I was confident and outgoing, I always thought of myself as a strong person. And then, when I was 20, I landed myself in a very difficult situation. And instead of responding like a strong person would, I ended up reacting in a most lily-livered fashion. Looking back on that event, there are so many things I wish I had done differently. But most of all, I was shattered by how weak my behaviour was through the whole episode – it was like seeing a new side of me that didn’t exist, and I wasn’t proud of me.
And while the biggest take-away from that entire episode was that I promised myself that I would be a stronger, braver person, it also made me understand myself better, forced me to acknowledge some of my (many, many) shortcomings, and work on them.

·           It’s not alright to not be able to take care of yourself.  All my life, I stressed so much on women being financially independent that I never thought about people being independent. When I left home 10 years ago, I’d never done anything by myself – never went to the store to buy fruits/vegetables/groceries, never carried luggage, never cooked, never did any household chores, never paid any bills, nothing! Living in a small city with well-connected parents and in a home with adequate household help can do that to you.
But the worst part was that I was actually proud of it. Proud that I was pampered and cosseted. The years have taught me better. I’ve learnt that it’s not enough to be financially independent, that one has to be able to take care of oneself too, in order to be independent in the true sense.

·           Live for today.  This is a philosophy I picked up along the way to adulthood. And it’s a philosophy I endorse completely. Sure, I look forward to the future with eagerness and anticipation. And I look back on the past with fondness and nostalgia. And yet, I live for today – I believe in making the most of now, and this has made me a very, very happy and a very content person.

And that’s the end of class for today folks. ;-) I’m going to leave you with this song.