My last article was about reflecting on 20 years of professional life. This one is about how I took a path that was slightly different from what everyone else thought I’d take.
For this, I need to rewind even further, into my schooldays. I was a topper in school but the grades started going down, much to the disappointment of my family, as I moved from Malayalam medium to English. They (as most parents did during those times) wanted me to take up either Engineering or Medicine. Since I scored a meagre 60% in pre-univ, that dream went out of the window like a tracer bullet. (I can’t believe I used a cricket reference here).
Barely managed to clear my degree without losing any years (which was a big deal). By then, never mind my folks, I didn’t have much hope left for my life. All along, extreme peer pressure and societal expectations had weighed me down, making me an absolute cynic. This is a phase of life I look back at with some disappointment.
All of this changed drastically once I started working and began to follow a few simple rules that I learnt along the way (Have written about that in my previous post). Since then, it’s been a fun ride.
Some myths that got busted during this journey are:
- You have to excel in college to get a good job.
- A corporate job is worth if it pays you well.
- A professional career is a status symbol.
- Our school system prepares us well for our adult life.
- You need to plan for your future, so work hard now for a bigger and better pay-off later.
- You need to earn a lot to have a satisfying life.
- Working remotely does not really work.
- People are more productive in the office than at home.
- There’s really no thing called work-life balance if you want to succeed in life.
- You are too small to make a difference in the world, so don’t even bother trying.
The current pandemic too continues to generate a debate about some of these accepted notions.
Human race marvels at folks who achieve a great deal of success by ignoring conventional wisdom. What if some of these icons were not really outliers? What if taking the path less travelled was encouraged when we are young?
There are computer geniuses without a professional degree. There are outstanding filmmakers who never went to a film school. There are maestros who never attended a music course. What if non-conformity to the norm wasn’t a recipe for disaster, but rather a road map for finding happiness and a more meaningful life?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying drop out of college, quit your job, disown everything you have and be a nomad.
This pandemic has changed many things for many of us. It has made people/ organisations re-think the way they live and work – from schools taking online classes to companies encouraging work from home to folks asking what was this rat race all about.
What if this is the reset button all of us were waiting for? What if this is our chance to re-write things? Will we try something new are we dying to go back to the ‘old’ normal?
They say disruption is the best time for innovation. How about we use ‘now’ to re-write the script, break a few rules, and chose a path of our liking?
Today, is the first day for the rest of your life.