The other day I happened to read this article. The post was wise, looked at reality, and made me think. But what the post also had was a fair extent of bitterness. It might make a person with fewer wings think less of flying. Don’t be that person, I thought after reading the post. These days, owning a start-up has become something of a fashion. Quitting your job to travel has become almost as mundane as a 9 to 5 job. But what no one realizes is that nothing is mundane. Ever.
I quit my job this month. No, I have no other job in hand. I am not climbing the next step to corporate heaven. But neither am I traversing gorgeous islands with barely a penny in my pocket, and writing about how gloriously unencumbered it feels not to have money. This life of no security, don’t believe the hype. It is not as glamorous as it sounds. It is scary, financially. Having known the moorings of financial security all my working life, you wonder if the money in the bank is enough. But then, you think again, it’s never enough. Nothing ever is. Happiness does not lie in quitting your job. Happiness does not lie in the pay check at the end of the month. What we do in life has nothing to do with happiness. The true, enduring happiness, that is. Does money bring you happiness? Of course, it does! I love eating out. I love all the countries that money has made me travel to. No one, and I mean no one, travels the world for free. But to just savor the raindrops of each moment, to breathe in the glorious uncertainties of life and to love them all, that is happiness.
Did quitting my job bring me happiness? No. It did not. I was happy with the job. There is a beauty to the ordinary life, an extraordinariness, which gets lost in this craze to “do something different.” You don’t have to do anything different. You already are. There is no one like you out there in the world. How much more different can that be? Every single job I have held since 2002 has given me something back. I have learned. Grown as a person. I have never understood those who used to quit saying “there’s nothing more to learn.” Every day, no matter how routine the job, brings you opportunities to learn. We blind ourselves to the learning. That’s not the job’s fault. In my previous job, I understood well the caprices of human behavior. The egos that needed to be massaged. The people that respond well to criticism (very few) and the ones who don’t (the majority).
I am shy by nature. But over the years, I have had to bury the shyness and be what I am not. Nothing exposed me more to my own shyness than the last job. There were a few egos I burned, and I don’t care I did. The ego has no place in much of human interaction and the ones who use it as a shield don’t stay long with me. But I place value on pride. Do your work with pride. Is that the best you can do? That’s the question I ask myself always. Do the small things well. Especially, the small things. To be on time for meetings. To write a mail with courtesy and respect. To add a please and a thank you. To check that last word before you hit send.
The human mind is wonderfully elastic. It expands and stretches as much as you want it to. To use that mind is the greatest skill we can bring to work. But to use the heart is just as important. The heart is the little voice inside that always prods you. The caged bird that we need to allow to sing. For me, my heart has always told me to respect the work we do. I could not take lunch breaks longer than what is stipulated. I would not watch YouTube videos or update my status (seriously overrated, in my opinion) because my heart would not allow me to. I don’t remember any job over the last 14 years that said watching YouTube videos is part of the job description. Pride is a flame we need to carry to all that we do. Did this make me a harsh taskmaster? Maybe. Did that make me work with pride? Yes, definitely. Pride is not what you lose before the fall. It stops the fall. You fall when you know that you are no longer proud of the work you are doing.
So, did I quit because I lost the pride? No. Because I was not learning? Surely, the answer you know by now, no. Because I was bored? How can you get bored when you have capricious egos, beautiful people, and shoddy standards that someone has to raise? Because the money was not enough? I didn’t really know what my CTC was till I resigned. Because my boss was lousy? Too demanding? No, no, and no. Because I got fed-up with the well of politics? The games that people play at work – aren’t those fun? Frustrating, yes. But why would you quit for that? Bring a bunch of people together and you will see the mechanics of human behavior play the usual role. As a writer, I was provided with enough material for a novel. No, I quit for another reason. And that will be in my next post. But till then, take pride in the ordinary moments. The jostling of one moment with another. Sometimes, that’s all we can remember life by.