Guest Blog Post: My Plan is not to Plan by Surbhi Maheshwari
Ah, just realized that the guest blog posts male to female ratio resembles the sex ratio at IIT. For some reason, women seem to be less inclined to share their stories on my blog, despite my persistence. So, thanks to Surbhi for stepping up to the challenge. Surbhi is one of those girls who’s always happy-go-lucky in life. You know how everyone has a default facial expression – a neutral face when they are not expressing anything and is just the way how their face is – it could be sad, serious or expressionless. Well, Surbhi is one of those fortunate ones with a smiling default expression. I swear, look closely and you can see her eyes twinkling. A fellow blogger, she writes beautifully – from poems to amusing experiences from her life as a corporate professional. In this post, she talks about following one’s heart..
Plan B! That is one thing the otherwise decently organized and planned me lacks till date and doesn’t even intend to have in near future. It started as a subconscious trait and had a logic driven reason. Today, it has become a conscious choice with a reason driven by emotions. In retrospection, I can vividly recollect the moments that define the transition phase. The core principle managed to stay unaltered through the changes.
Precisely 13 years ago (Summer ’99), I didn’t know how I was going to survive at a boarding school, away from home, although I was trying desperately to convince my parents to let me go to one. (Luckily, I eventually did not go to a boarding school. My aunt took me with her so that I could continue my studies at a good school. I stayed there for next 5 years.) Nor did I, 6 years ago, know what I would do if I didn’t clear JEE. And during the years in between I didn’t know that expressing homesickness would not be considered equivalent to inability to survive away from home and failing once would not mean no second chance. I would have perhaps known all this had I allowed myself to think. But the logical me knew only one thing- I have to do something in life, something much more substantial than the default plan the society structure had designed for me. There was no possibility of letting anyone, especially myself, doubt my strength or capability. There was no place for a plan B.
Once at IIT, I slowly shed away my inhibitions. I slowly grew confident of my capabilities and the opportunities at hand, and hence of being able to have a future my way. That was the phase when I started following my heart instead of my mind. (Cliché but yes, there is a difference between the two thought processes.) I opted to work for the campus Hindi magazine because I like writing in Hindi and because learning to type Hindi would be fun and not for any of the literary clubs even though those are considered cool. I chose to become a hostel counselor for I enjoy talking to people and wanted to support juniors to have a smooth transition phase from home to college just like my seniors had helped me and not a hostel secretary although I was a potential candidate and it is a much stronger resume point. I preferred to take courses like Indian Fiction for I love reading rather than taking more value oriented courses, say finance as free electives. Not all of these and countless other choices were conscious decisions, the choice just made more sense at that moment. And I can say with my hand on my heart- I do not regret any of them. It all went awesome without any opportunity cost analysis or back up plan.
During the last of the 10 semesters, after I was done with sending applications to universities for higher studies and had a couple of job offers at hand and I knew I had managed to reach the start of that good-enough-future, there was a conscious shift in my decision making. Now, for past year and a half, every choice and decision boils down to happiness. The choice between staying in India or going abroad, the choice between job a or job b, decision to go home at least once every 6 weeks whatever it takes, decision to cook the food that I love over eating cooked-by-maid food or dabba food, every small thing is about what makes me happy. Or at times, people I care for happy. I know I will quit my job the day I feel unhappy at work and other non-work life of mine fails to compensate for that dissatisfaction. I still don’t have a plan B, I don’t know what exactly I will do. All I know is I will manage to do something that will keep me happy.
You might call it over-confidence, but to me, plan B simply means not having sufficient confidence in self. Oh, and of course, there is a luck element in everything, which I have copious amounts of, but that’s a story for another day.
P.S. No, I have not been traveling alone on this journey. A lot of amazing people are there with me- some to guide and direct me and others to discover the route along with me. A few of them, especially the teachers, walked with me only for a short while, yet made a huge impression on me.
If you’re new here, this is the eighth awesome post in the series of guest blog posts. This experiment has been successful so far because of people like you. If you have a story to share, I’d love to hear from you. You’re welcome to write about anything under the sun. The more, the merrier. Drop me a line, and I’ll get back to you.
In the short blurb of introduction for each guest post, I usually mention what people are doing etc. But with this post, Surbhi gave me strict instructions not to mention her company. Apparently, one has to take care not to mention the company’s name while expressing personal views. To be fair to the reader, she works for a well-known FMCG company in India and is super happy doing what she does.