Some adults have an uncanny and annoying way of passing judgment every so subtly. The last time I visited Bombay, an old uncle friend made an off-hand comment that left me feeling rather annoyed, stewing, and muttering under my breath.
This time around, I met him and he did it again! His face screwed up into a disfigured frown, he asked me ever so condescendingly, “So how’s Goa treating you?”. The kind of question that’s perfectly cordial on the outside, but actually cuts through deeper than you know. I think I’m a pretty good judge of tone of expression, to know when someone asks a question already knowing he isn’t going to believe the answer. That he wasn’t asking to know how Goa really is treating me, but to make it known that he actually believes it isn’t working for me. So it really didn’t matter what my answer was going to be.
I did him a favor though, and answered with a big, bright smile. “It’s awesome,” I said. Nothing more. Nothing less. No explanations needed. None given.
It could have just ended there. If I were mature enough. But I’m not. And I didn’t just let it go. I let it prick and needle me. I thought and over-thought the statement. I continued to stew and be really pissed off that he pulled it off yet again and I that let the snide comment pass.
But the truth is this: Yes, I’ve switched multiple jobs. Yes, I’m the kind of person who’s fickle about what makes me happy. And yes, I’m also the kind of person who just will not settle. Unfortunately or fortunately I’m the kind of person that is gullible enough to be moved by cheesy lines from Steve Jobs’ Stanford Graduation address. No matter that what he advocates is altogether impractical and not feasible. For if we all just chose to flit form one thing to another seeking what we love, I don’t see how there would be any sort of consistency or stability in our lives. But that’s not the point. I was and still am inspired by those lines. Enough to scribble them out on the back of laundry bills.
That my life has traversed a path that has allowed me to take such chances, play around in the world of advertising, get burnt and hate it so much, that I chose to give it up altogether, is a matter of luck. That my professional life has brought me full circle, to a place where I have a love-hate relationship with what I do, is another matter altogether.
But what I realise is this. The fact that I have taken so long to find a professional balance, is a personal journey. Not something I can expect people to understand. Least of all, judgmental old uncles. But the next time he does ask me how I’m doing, or if I’ve switched jobs again, or if I’m sick of Goa, I’m going to give him this long drawn story. I’m going to tell him that I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to flit around and do many things, try different agencies, different accounts, different brands, different creative teams, before I realized how much I actually hated it. Before I realized I was after the wrong thing. I’m going to tell him I’m so happy I didn’t just settle. That I didn’t just beat myself into following the first path I chose. I’m glad I followed the rather stupid advice that people like Steve Jobs dole out. I’m glad my life has brought me to a place today, where I can use what little experience I have, and try and meld it with what I want to do. I’m glad that after all that’s come and gone, I’m sitting snug in the warmth of having a job that’s actually more than a job. A workplace that’s not just an office. Colleagues who double up as friends and family. And a life thats as close to perfect as it can get.
So if this is what comes from being inconsistent, unsure, fickle, pessimistic, restless and unsettled, by god, I love it. I love that I’m not easily satisfied. I love that I’m still willing to search. I love that I still know what I’m looking for. My life really has been about searching for that one thing I love. And if Steve Jobs lived by that rule, I don’t really have too much to worry about, do I?
Here’s to the ants in the pants. Here’s to the indecision. Here’s to a life of wandering and exploration.