I got few angry messages after I posted a blog ‘Is quitting an easier option for women’ Several expressed anguish at my inability to understand the predicament of women who had to drop out. They felt that it’s easier for someone like me to talk.. someone who has not faced challenges or failures like them, someone who has achieved reasonable success.
Well.. I failed several times in several ways. While I shared some of them, I never dared to share few failures early on in my life. Only my close family and few friends know about them.
It took me a while to muster the courage to write! But, hey what the heck! I have reached an age and stage where it probably doesn’t matter. On the contrary, it might help others. So, here’s a list of failures that shook me!
Flunked a paper in undergrad – I had been a straight A student throughout my school life. I cleared a tough competitive exam, got a good rank and joined a reputed engineering college. And I flunked Solid Mechanics paper in first semester! It was so shameful! I didn’t know how to face my father, who was always so proud of my academic achievements. I thought that I am not cut out for engineering (which is true, just that I didn’t know it then!); I wanted to drop out! Instead, I moved on..
Unemployment – Fast forward four years….. I completed my engineering in May 1991. Very few companies used to come for campus recruitment in those days. I didn’t clear interviews in those few and didn’t get placed in campus. As several friends left the college with excitement of beginning a new phase of their lives, I moved back with my parents. My desperate job search began, which lasted for seven months!! I still remember the pitied looks of our neighbors. And so called well-meaning suggestions to my parents, “why don’t you get her married.. she is anyway sitting idle at home.” A couple of times, I thought it would be an honourable way out of my situation. As my desperation increased, my performance in interviews started dipping.. At long last, I got a job in a small Marwari company.
Poor performance, on the verge of being fired – The first few years of my career were rather bumpy. I was in a role for which I was a complete misfit (I now know why I hated my job) And my boss was totally against taking women, I was literally dumped on him. He would not coach or guide me. Most days, he wouldn’t even speak to me. So I was stuck with a deadly combination of role misfit and an unsupportive boss. I still shudder when I think of those years.. the embarrassment of not meeting targets.. being at the bottom of the charts. Had I not resigned (I moved cities after marriage), I would have probably got fired.
Risk your baby’s well-being or quit – Oh, the first few nannies that we hired for our baby son, they were so unreliable. Once my son narrowly missed a terrible accident, courtesy one of the nannies. I still remember that spring afternoon in Wimpy’s, Hauz Khas, on our way back from agency, where we had gone to seek replacement of nanny. I sat with my favourite kidney bean burger, untouched; big fat tears rolling down my cheeks.. I was stuck between fire and frying pan! My tears spoke more than my words! My husband told me, “You continue to work. If required, I will quit. But, don’t think too much about future. Take one day at a time. Things will work out.”
I can go on and on about my failures…I have gone through big failures both in my personal and professional life. While each one of them shook me, they also helped me learn a lot. I always followed just one mantra in darkest hours of life: simply put one foot in front of the other and keep trundling. The tunnel has to end, sometime.. someday..no tunnel can be longer than your perseverance… bright sun rays will smile on you!!
So my dear ladies, don’t quit before you really need to quit. We truly fail only when we decide to quit our dreams.. Till then we are just on a bumpy road full of thorns..someday it will lead us on to a smooth road, probably sooner than we expect……