>And words are all I have…

>For somebody on the precipice of 30, I’m ashamed to say I don’t know what my calling in life is. Or perhaps I do.

I started my career when I was 22 as a lifestyle journalist. My name became a staple in the most widely-read English newspaper daily of the city. I wrote happily about social trends, celebrity interviews, off-beat events. I took dakka after dakka (the gifts that journos get at press conferences) with embarrassment and stuck a ‘Press’ sticker on my car. I spent hour after hour calling up elusive celebrities trying to get a quote for my stories and hated it. I battled writer’s blocks to meet my weekly stories-filed target. I racked my brain during ideation meetings. I clocked extra hours into work uncomplainingly.

I edited – threw out the words and phrases that offended English grammar and replaced them with my own that fit the eccentric rules of the language. I gave “catchy” headlines, played on puns, twisted and turned the words in my head to come up with headlines that met the demand of the “young” product that I was working for.

I made pages – the ones that you see ultimately see in the morning papers. Added colour here, pictures there. Visuals here, word play there. I discussed, often debated, with my editor what stories would be carried on the top fold, what would go under. What story needed to be scrapped because it couldn’t hold its own. What reporter needed to be rapped for copy-pasting from the internet. I met deadlines. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking if I had let the overflow of words from that article in the right column of the page go to print as it is. I stressed over having misspelt a word in the introduction, of putting a wrong picture caption, of not giving photo credit where it was due.

That was my job.
I earned peanuts. I got promoted. I got new enemies. I got passionate about what I was doing.

And then I left it all. Because they came in the way of me and my work. Because I wasn’t there for money and the satisfaction of a four-year old job was being snatched away by an idiot, politicking boss. Because I couldn’t wait to be 40 to be where I should have been!

I left it all to become an entrepreneur with my husband.

It’s good to be the boss, but what of my words? Where do I take them now?

I bring them here, on my blog. But without the byline that shone atop every newspaper article I wrote. I bring them here without the promise of having them read by thousands of pairs of eyes that pick up the newspaper everyday. I bring them here, but I leave behind the ones that do not find a place here.

I cringe each time a friend or family member tells me I made the wrong choice, that I belonged there. That that was where they expected me to rise. That what I am doing now may be great but it does not match up to what I was doing then. That the place I vacated is still unoccupied.

And it breaks my heart to know they may be right.

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47 responses »

  1. >Those who know what they want to be when they grow up are the lucky ones. The rest of us keep moving around. I’ve had six career changes in the past 12 years – only the last one was not my choice. So it’s normal to wonder and even more normal on the cusp of a landmark birthday. Don’t sweat, you’ll find the right place one day, but don’t wish the journey away either. 🙂

  2. >@Loz: Thanks Loz! This means so much to me…@Monika: For the record, I’m still more than a year away from 30 :)Thank you *Hugs back*@unsung: So you dropped in to say ‘Ohh’? That’s some value-addition to the comments’ space!@Swati: Yeah, everyone says that. But will someone please tell me how to freelance?!

  3. >D, you are one of my favourite bloggers and there’s no questioning that. And I’m not saying this to… comfort you or anything, just wanted to tell you that somehow I end up identifying with most of what you write.I know precisely how you feel because I’m going through it too. I’m at a place which, logically, seems like where I should’ve ended up at anyway. But I still miss writing very very badly and feel stuck. And don’t know how to get back to it either. Can you not get in touch with your old publication and ask if they’ll let you freelance? That seems to me the first thing to do, in that direction. And hey, 30 is the new 20 as they say. So don’t fret about losing time and not doing the things you want, it all works out eventually 🙂 Good luck!Also, thank you very much for blogrolling me, I’ve been meaning to add you up too… will get around to it soon 😀 Excuse the sermon type comment pliss.

  4. >There’s really no right answer to this one. There are loads of us who feel we would be better at something else and even though we know what it us, we’re completely unable to get down to it…the fear of losing the monthly salary, the fear of failure, the fear of the unknown…sigh! Always best to enjoy what you’re doing. And am sure freelance writing can still happen.

  5. >People will always have an opinion. What matters most, is what you want to do and what gives you peace… Sometimes change is good. People may not know you through newspaper now, but they surely do know you through blog.. Cheer up…

  6. >You are not yet 30 – you have time to find your niche…Don’t worry…Very few people are happy with what they do…Can’t you be a guest writer? If you can, do it…

  7. >@Dewdropdream: I’m glad you can identify with what I write. Since you’ve been there, I want to tell you it hurts when you have a story idea staring at you in the face and you can’t do anything about it! I wish I knew how to go about the freelance route. Getting in touch with the publication I was working for is difficult because I quit after a spat with my editor.@Mumbai Diva: Just when I think I’ve forgotten about the pleasures of my previous job someone reminds me that I should not. Makes it difficult to enjoy where I am.@Soulmate: The realisation that others may be right is what causes me pain!@maidinmalaysia: I hope sometimes that that’s what it is – a break.@Bones: Thanks for the encouragement. It feels better to know time isn’t running out on me.

  8. >omy goodness, d, this is sooooooo trippy cuz i was thinking of the same thing today!!!! whether i’ve found my calling. what is it that i really want to be … whether i am workinig towards it or not. was feeling so alone thinking that though. thanks for writing this. we are certainly not alone … and have plenty of years ahead. 🙂 u are good with words though. start working on a book maybe?either case, i think it is quite normal. p is loving his job but he still occasionally gets the pangs to do something else … all of us go through it. actually i;d say people who have the ability to somewhat think go through it … rest are just robotically doing their desk jobs. :/

  9. >@roop: I think people around me are supremely wise because they certainly not are of the unthinking variety. My sister is a social worker – wanted to be that since forever; my Dad is a lawyer – a successful one at that; The Guy quite his first job to do what he is doing now and never thinks of a move back. Why couldn’t I have such clarity of thought?!And now that you’ve got your cheap thrills, let me tell you I’m not 30 yet 😀 So the small frame can manage for now 😉

  10. >just bcs u do something well doesnt mean you have to do it.. but if you love doing it.. then maybe u shld go back to being a journo/editor.. 🙂 All the Best, whatever it is that you choose..

  11. >whatever happens, happens for a reason. i dont know about newspapers and magazines, but there are plenty of websites that will readily ask u to write. put ur cv up on naukri..and u know what im saying… maybe u dont like the idea.. but u gotto start somewhere…ive done more research… u can also register on chillifreeze.com..they send projects.do a little bit of google search n ull know what to do. that is, if u r interested in content writing for websites. let me know if u need any more ideas!

  12. >they ‘maybe right’ is not the same as they ‘are right’. So don’t let your heart break till you know for sure that they ‘are right’. But if you do know for sure that they are right, then do the right thing. 30 is the new 20. To know what you want to do with your life is a blessing. Most people never know what they want even at 40 or at all.

  13. >@How do we know: I like your point of view that just because we do something well doesn’t mean we should be doing that. But yes, I loved doing what I was doing for most part.@Nisha: Thanks. Have registered myself on chillifreeze, but no projects coming my way yet 😛 Am I over-qualified or is this what recession does?@A: I loathe the confusion between “may be” and “certainly”. Wish I was endowed with such clarity of thought…

  14. >D – it’s important to understand what type of writing you’d love to do. if it’s creative, then I would encourage you to start working on a book. if it’s content writing in any form, you can try websites like helium and associated content. I got into corporate communication immediately after college, getting big bucks. I left it to join as trainee copywriter for a pittance and worked my way up and even got a couple of awards for print/media ads. Here in the US, I was senior copywriter (more content-based than ads) when I decided to go freelance to be home with the baby. One thing I know is that I gotta write, no matter what type of writing it is. Blogging is ok but not exactly what i want to immerse myself in fully, so you see, I’m looking for answers myself. 🙂

  15. >Hey D, you have an entire lifetime ahead of you to decide. Guess what? You get to be the boss in your own factory of happiness. Take time off to figure out what you really want. That`s where most people get stuck(including me). And then just Go ahead and do exactly what you`ve always wanted to do! Dont worry about people. There`ll always be people on either side of what you plan to do! Hugs

  16. >if it is some consolation michelle obama is still waiting to think what she will do as a grown up (Get your daughters the dog at least, says aneela!).I dont think you ever actually ‘abandon’a particular çareer choice…whether it was something you had thought of growing up, or something you trained for in college or something you actually “did”. it crops up every now or then or you channel it in an unexpected way. I grew up wanting to be a nuclear physicist…was turned off by the idea of what it would mean for my life by my undergrad year…ended up doing a post grad where i actually “asked” pakistan to come out of the nuclear closet!! gave my faculty and my heart attack when i announced my years training as a defence strategist were a waste and decided to study gender and development. But tum ney tau political scientist banna tha..however i found myself writing writing my thesis post may-98 and it was a feminist critique of the nuclear tests..so I didnt actually abandon my childhood dream though I was on the side of the line!!and now im dealing with arhaan’s pampers which are quite a bomb too!!!

  17. >The word my friend is evolving.And that is what we all do and so will you. Cannot resist my own story here…was convinced was a temple dansuese in ‘poorva janam’ hungered for the laal batti gaadi, Dist Commissoner types with big dreams of transform/reform and at the same time harbored dreams of being an actress..arty film types.Fell in love , dropped the idea of lal batti, worked with Nadira Babbar but left that to follow the husband around , did a PG in Social work and worked on sex trafficking issues..love my work , dont do it full time to be a stay at home mother……leaning heavily towards spirituality and finding the real answers….still searching , evolving….

  18. >You did what you loved and you gave it up for a spat with your editor? That’s like cutting off your nose o spite your face D.Isin’t there any other newspaper in Lucknow or maybe some website or various magazines or something? Dhudne se to bhagwan bhi milte hain to magazine kya cheez hai :PThin about it babe. It’s what you want to do which matters. Giving up something you love cuz of some stupid office politics is so not worth it

  19. >firstly many hugs! :)well D, you are lucky because you did what you LOVED for sometime in your life. You KNEW what works for you. and you still do perhaps!look at people like me who have no clue and just kept drifting from one thing to another! ande ven now are doing something wayy below their abilities. getting thrills out of one job well done out of 100banal ones one does day in and day out!and who says you cant go back to do what you really love now or even 10 years down the line! and how about free lancing in any case. with your contacts getting to see the by-line every now and then shouldnt be difficult! maybe you can actually wrote about things that matter to you withouit someone telling you what!life is too short to regret! live it up the way you liven the parties! :)cheers!abhaps: my email id is amateurabe@gmail.com. drop me a line wheever you can. am in lucknow between 15th – 20th apr as per current plan! 🙂

  20. >@Mystic: I don’t think I’m equipped to write a book yet. Never tired content writing, so can’t speak for that. Would love to freelance. The problem is that the city that I am in – where opportunities for freelancing are few and far between. The big media houses in the metros would obviously prefer writers from the same cities. And I do not have any “jugaad” in the industry, which could have worked wonders!@Piper: I’ve always thought if I spend my entire life figuring out what I want, when will I do what I want to? But you guys give me hope :)@Aneela: If I had given up my job for motherhood, perhaps I would have had the satisfaction of bringing up my child. And the excuse of not having the time to pursue what I want to full-time. Right now, I have neither.@Chrysalis: Makes me wonder if this confusin of calling is something that’s particular to women…@SMM: I didn’t quit because I had a spat with my editor. I had a spat with my editor when I quit. And I don’t know what you do for a living but “some stupid office politics” that comes in the way of you and your work isn’t a non-issue. I left because I could not have wasted valuable years of my life waiting for an idiot of a boss to go away before I could begin performing again. It’s been 2 years since I quit that job, and that woman is still firmly planted in the Ed’s seat. I chose to leave because I chose my work had ceased to give me the happiness that it used to. I left because I could not be unhappy every single day of my life. But I regret having had to make that choice.There are other newspapers in Lucknow, but none where lifestyle jounalism has a place. I couldn’t go and cover political events – that’s not my forte.

  21. >Well, D, maybe I overspoke. I don’t know the circumstances in which you left and it would n be my place to do so. When I read your post, I got the impression that you quit because you had a spat with your boss and not the other way around. As for what i do or don’t do, I know enough that office politics are a part of the game everywhere though I try to keep my head out of it as much as possible.I was in a similar place about 18 on6hs back where I had to work under an incompetent boss and lost out on some major assignments cuz of that as well as had to take his nonsense. I was ready to quit, but I stuck it out cuz I loved my work.Finally he quit about 9 months back. All I was saying is that if your unhappy, then maybe some other publications – like Femina or marie Claire. I am guessing that it won’t be easy to get through, but if you love it then try it.

  22. >@Abha: I love the way you all make time sound so trivial. Maybe I should do too!Will mail you ASAP!@SMM: Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to clarify why I actually quit. And I thought that if you’re a student, maybe you don’t know how bad office politics can be. But you’ve been there, done that. And you stuck to your guns, which is great. I, on the other hand, did what I thought best in my situation.And you’re right – I can’t give up without trying, can I?

  23. >One more comment… Just be yourself.. it doesn’t matter if you have a successful career or not… it matters that you’ve done what you want to do in life.. even if it means.. leaving your job.. and what you loved.. to do something.. you maybe love more!!! Go where your heart takes you.. and do whatever you feel like doing.. Best of luck!!! PS – you write really well.. so maybe you should try freelancing!!

  24. >I am guessing a lot of people have already recommended this, but can’t you freelance? Then you can pick who you work for, what you write about and when you do it.Or write a book? From your post I could gather that you like the entire process of publishing something. A book of yours is what I would definitely read 🙂

  25. >@Patricia: I like that line of thought: had I not quit I would have always wondered if I could have done something else better and enjoyed it more.@Aneri: A book? I don’t think I can write the kind of book I would like to, the kind of book that gets read.And hey, thank you for the help.@Chandni: How, is the big question.

  26. >Dude, you can’t write it unless you do! No harm in starting it, right? You already know what kind of book you would like, that’s more than most beginners know!

  27. >@Aneri: Maybe one day I’ll write a book, but right now I’m so sure I’m not in the book-writing mode.@Ramby: Er, Ramby, please to tell which comment you’re talking about… Now I feel so foolish, not knowing what a comment on my post is referring to 😛 Enlighten me.

  28. >read the post a few days back..didnt have a clue about what to add and how..a friend wrote today about her own life herehttp://www.everydaygyaan.com/2009/03/chance-i-didnt-take.htmlshe keeps sharing her thoughts on life and all about it…:)hope you get all that you wish for..:)god bless..

  29. >Hi D – thanks for stopping by on my blog. I love your blog too…the blog on numbers was so clever!Just thought you might like to read this from Alan Cohen: ‘ Joseph Campbell advised us all to “follow your bliss.” This is absolutely practical advice. Someone once asked me, “If everyone just followed their bliss, what kind of world would this be?” I answered, “A very blissful world.”May you follow your bliss…..HugsCorinne

  30. >@Indyeah: As advised, visited Corinne and as you can see, Corinne visited me back :)Campos: I think I would have to read Cohen to understand that better. But I hope he also tells how we’re supposed to “follow our bliss”.

  31. >You have 44 comments here so may be what I am going to say is a repetition. But here is the deal, if you want to do something, go right ahead and do it.You made a choice. You alone are responsible for the life you lead. So if you think you made a mistake, go ahead and undo it. If you think you made the right choices then given the circumstances, then that is that. You did what you had to.I don’t think there is a place to second guess yourself based on what other’s tell you. They don’t live your life and bear the consequences.I am so inspired by reading of your passion towards your earlier job.

  32. >oh these days wen im desparately yearning for a job, i just cant make allowance for the possibility tht there might come a time when i i feel injustice was done to me and i hate it and blah blah blah… but right now, nothing matters… i just need a jobok so hows that related to the post… no clue… i probably shudv jus kept on shutting up!

  33. >@det-res: I do take responsibilty for my actions, but I don’t believe I made a choice. A choice between leaving what you enjoy doing and sanity doesn’t seem like a choice to me at all. It’s like being asked to “choose” between the devil and the deep sea! If I were given an option I would choose to have both the things in my life. What I did seemed like the best possible thing to do in the given situation, that’s all. And I have no regrets about it. I regret that I was compelled to make what you call was my choice.Unfortunately, life doesn’t give us “undo” buttons that we can hit on and go back to where we were. @Avaran: I know what you mean 🙂 Handling work-related problems comes only when you have a job. Best of luck – I hope you start working soon enough.

  34. >I understand how you feel. I made that choice once and when I was packing my stuff to go, ‘they’ said you will cry-I said i wouldnt come to seek your shoulder when I do. I have not so far.That was a job after my own heart, but something lacked. I changed my profession and am happy. While I was reading this post, I was almost reminded of my situation-I was 22 when I had resigned that job- money wise, it was far better than the present one I m in.I have also wondered if ‘they’ were right. But I have found that whatever happens, happens for good.

  35. >Identified with your post…D, loved it and your PLAY with the words are so natural… But whatever choice you have made really needs a strong mind and you are to be lauded for that…It is easy to go with the wind to go against it requires a lot of courage and you have it. All the best, am sure you will be good in whatever you do!

  36. >@Mampi: I hope that too – that whatever’s happened has been for the better. @Sindhu: Thank you Sindhu! It means a lot when people show faith in you.

  37. >I loved this piece. When significant others in your life criticize a move that you make and which they know you love is something to hurt about. I love your style though, will be looking out for more such posts. 🙂

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