At 60, I am not successful conventionally – I don’t have a huge cabin in a giant organization, I am not the proprietor of any firm, I don’t have ample staff members working for and with me, I’m not even earning a shitload o’ money every day. However, I somehow don’t feel deprived, or cheated by Karma. I am earning enough to feel untroubled and jovial every day, and have the satisfaction of having enjoyed life to the fullest.
I have lived life on my terms which makes me feel… fulfilled.
In the year 1996, I needed to get a duplicate college certificate, so, I went to my college. I met the lady who was incharge there. She remembered me from college days. So, she asked about my well-being, and later, asked me how many children I have. I told her I have had none. She generously nodded her head in empathy.
I took no time to add that I was not married. The expression on her face changed to shock, and she took her glasses off. This was how it was way back. People disapproved of an unmarried woman.
However, I am happy today. At my age, I wonder if a few “successful” people can give the same feedback. I have explored life, and traveled through it the way I wanted to, learned and made important decisions for myself without being bogged down by the opinions of people surrounded me all the effing time.
[40 years back]
Having just stepped out of college and having stepped into the real world, I was totally confused. My parents had protected me so much — I was quite innocent and naive. Still, fortunately, I had a mind of my own.
I had joined an organization for the first time in my life. I met so many new people, one of them being my colleague who seemed so very sweet. In the first week, I felt contented. I was in sales department, and my colleague and I went out on the field every day and made cold calls.
We used to cover the same area, but visit different firms to get business from them. I had a breakthrough – I got a new account for my company. My colleague had gone to the same firm earlier, but had not succeeded.
The next day in office, she had a big fight with me saying that I had stolen the account from her, and then, started crying. Her tears helped her win the boss’s sympathy. He called me and reprimanded me.
I was flabbergasted because it had taken a lot of effort and I had taken a lot of trouble to get that account, and had not stolen the account from her.
My colleague knew that because I had mentioned to her that I was visiting that company after she had given up on it. Still, she created the drama and scene out of nowhere, only to put me in a bad light in front of all the colleagues.
I sat and thought about what I wanted out of life, what my parents wanted for me, and how to strike a balance between the two.
I wanted to explore life, so, that I can earn money and stay happy, and do not have to indulge in dirty politics. Even when it came to getting married I was not willing to compromise, and didn’t want to get married only for the label of “married”.
I wanted to marry for that I would be able to spend my life with someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
This was not happening. A lot of elders in my family thought I should settle down with anyone who was financially secure. Not finding a partner caused me a lot of grief as one of my dreams was to live my life with the love of my life.
With time going by, and with me growing older and wiser, and with exploring life, I became courageous and mature. Maturity brought with it the realization that I may not have lived life on my parents’ terms which had brought them a lot of disappointment, but in the long term, seeing me be happy and contented gave them joy and peace.
At 40, I realized that I may never get married, but having gone through life on my terms made me feel privileged. At least I didn’t have to put up with the situation of living with somebody whom I didn’t like and didn’t want to be with which was the case with many people I knew.
I decided to freelance. I received a lot of compliments on how well I spoke English, so, it occurred to me that I could give classes and teach professionals who lacked in that area to speak fluent English. I became a Spoken English Trainer.
I also wanted to be creative, and pursue my passions for writing and painting. I made up my mind to freelance in these areas also.
And I started practicing painting, joined oil painting classes, and today, I sell my paintings. I started writing stories for newspapers and magazines. They were published. I made an effort to gain expertise in journalism, and when all is said and done, got into writing as a profession also.
Having explored life and in life, and living life the way I wanted to, not hankering after success in a traditional way have given me a lot of happiness. I have grown as a person, a better person and a confident professional. I do not look for approval in anyone’s eyes except from my own and the Almighty.
My journey brought a lot of heartaches for me and my loved ones. It took us many years, my parents and me, but eventually, I found my calling.
Today, my parents see me truly well pleased and making a decent living, so, they are rather more content and happy. Living in Mumbai city, and not having to travel by crowded trains and buses gives me so much joy that I have to mention it.
Exploring life had been a lot of fun while stepping up through hardships, and that has made me feel totally complete.
I wander; however, I’m not lost.
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