Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Curious Case of My Career(s)

Disclaimer: This blog reads like a cross between a Linkedin profile and an autobiographical account

Once in 6th grade on being asked what it is that I want to be when I grew up, I replied "Journalist". I always liked writing, and at that point in time was a manic reader. (It's another matter that I also had/have a penchant for drama and an obsession with Hindi movies and thought I should be an actress!)

As the years passed, writing was/is a passion/skill which kinda stuck with me, almost as if a conjoined twin. But in terms of careers, my mind wavered off and on. There was a time when I used to read only Grisham, and decided that law is my calling in life.

By a twist of fate (I end up having a lot of these!), psychology entered my life in 11th grade. Psychology and me, its like we were meant to be. My penchant for drama, my love for stories and human complexities, and my writing - all found a wonderful place in the world of psychology. I did my bachelors and my masters in psychology, and was convinced that my future career will revolve around psychology. In the middle of it, I did a brief stint with an HR consultancy, and also worked as a counsellor for a suicide helpline (the latter is ironic for so many reasons now).

On completing my masters, I literally stumbled into JNU, the hub of academia, research, communism and all things serious. Suddenly, my choice of career veered into research, education and academics. This was the time that I had cleared the 'prestigious' NET exam. It was also the time that I went for quite a number of interviews for teaching jobs in colleges and ended up clearing none. I was a freelance consultant with a publishing house also, and contrary to what I had always believed in, I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have thought.

In the midst of all this chaos, I got engaged. In the gap of 7/8 months between my engagement and my wedding, I interned with CSR, little knowing how it would have such an impact of my life, years later. That internship was just like an internship should be - breezy, stress free, enlightening, happy, and used my favourite skills of writing and research. 

After I got married and moved to Bombay, owing to the JNU stamp, and some recommendations from the sister, I managed to get a job in the educational wing of a renowned global NGO. It was a job very suited for my academic background, but lasted just two months, since I moved back to Delhi.

Once that happened, and amidst all the confusion surrounding my Ph.D plans, I landed up (to much of my shock and horror) as a school teacher, something which was nowhere in my life plans, like EVER. When I completed one year of being a school teacher (my longest job ever up until that point in life), and thought that this was going to be THE career, fate waved its magic wand. I got pregnant! I still remember, one of the first thoughts that came to my mind when I got to know of this life altering news, was "There goes my job" (Yes, like I said, I am very cool like that!). 

I worked through a significant part of my pregnancy, and finally decided to call it quits, simply because I was so blank. I was so blank about how I will feel about working after the baby, or whether I would even want to work, or how I would manage- that I just put in my papers.To be honest, I was fairly convinced in my head that I won't work once I become a mother, because I will have no time or energy left.

The first three months of being a mother are just a big blur in my memory. I remember endless sleepless nights, messed up eating schedules, this absolute state of nothingness, where all days, and parts of the day, were the same. I wondered sometimes if I would ever be 'normal' me again, if I would ever read, or watch TV or go out and shop, let alone hold a job.

Three months passed, and life sort of became normal. There was a more structured routine to my day, and I felt more mentally stable. And that was around the time, that life assumed a certain meaninglessness. I mean, yes I was raising an infant (a VERY high maintenance one at that ), but surely life had something else in store for me?  

It was around that time that CSR, quite magically, re-entered my life. And there I was, leaving behind a 5 month old baby, to go to work twice a week, for a few hours. Looking back at that person, I remember her being so nervous, so jittery, so unsure, more than I had ever been in my life. As a new mother, I suddenly felt that 'mothering' was all I knew - could I really fulfill job responsibilities? To be very honest, I didn't think I would last long in this job, but decided to test my own limits. I had nothing to lose.

Cut to 2017. I have completed two whole years of work at CSR, the longest job I have ever managed to stick to, or perhaps, the job which stuck to me the longest. On the lunch table with my team, soon after I completed two years, my boss asked me "What has been the highlight of these two years for you?" While I mumbled something, it got me thinking, at how bizarre life tends to be. Here I am, working as a social media consultant, literally living on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, writing blogs off and on, doing a bit of research, and have recently started understanding the coding and technical aspects of websites. It's almost funny how what I do now, has no direct relevance to what I studied all these years, or is nowhere close to all the jobs I had held so far. I am not trained in media, or language, but here I am, as part of the Media and Communication Division. Ironically, it is a job I am quite passionate about, and my work is almost an extension of my own personality now- an ideal situation no?

I remember ages ago, I had gone for an interview and the interviewer told me my resume was "eclectic". Maybe it was a unique way of saying "You lack focus." But perhaps it is the best way to define my personality and my experience with jobs too. When I look back at my 'career graph' (for want of a better word), it is a classic case of "Jack of all trades/Master of None". I really admire people who have had a single goal their whole life, or even their whole adult life, and everything they have done is directed towards achieving that goal. On a personal level, I have struggled a lot with being that goal-directed person, but now at this adult age of 30, I truly have made peace with the fact that I am nowhere close, and for my own sanity, I shouldn't try to be. I am a very "go with the flow" kind of person, and it has always benefited me, given my life circumstances. What I find amazing in a sense, is that all the jobs I have had, have been perfect for the life space I was in at that time.

Who knows where the future takes me?


Aditi said...

You have such a Warm style of writing Ranjoo! This brought a biiig smile to my face. And made me feel a little less guilty about my 'eclectic' jobs.. Lol

Runjoo said...

Thank you aditi! There is hope for all of us- we are all peas in a pod! (though you are actually one of the people I had in mind when I was talking about goals)

Urja Modi said...

Very well written.. Feel like the world of journalism lost out amidst your other 'eclectic' choices.

vijayalakshmy sunderrajan said...

What a lovely piece of writing Ranju. Straight from the heart, honest to the core and best of all... not at all apologetic in tone. How many of us can boast of being happy with what we have done and where we are!! God bless you dear... Carry on going with the flow and definitely life will take you places