A couple of days ago I turned 39. I’m now in the last year I’ll be in my 30’s! Society dictates that it is one’s 30’s in which career heights are reached, milestones attained, landmarks achieved. If I judge my own life through the lens of this established status quo, I tend to feel like a bit of a loser. At a time when an individual is seizing their place in the ‘career’ sun, breaking free from the quicksand-like clutches of middle management and moving UP, I decided to chuck it all. Relocated, shifted careers, started, effectively from scratch! If I evaluate my life from this factual standpoint, of having made a new beginning in my mid 30’s, my work in education through teaching & writing, its wide acknowledgement and patronage, individual & institutional; I have lots to be immensely proud of. I am being invited by the most premier institutions of the country to lecture, I have just been asked to deliver a Ted Talk, I have created a sizeable repertoire of intellectual property across publications pan-India, and I have positively impacted the lives of hundreds if not thousands of students. All this has made me realize one firm fact – that one can always reinvent, restart, course-correct life, even if it is in one’s mid-30’s.
I used to feel that my own appraisal of my station in life was inextricably linked to money. This might have been a result of societal outlook, or something I inherited from family. That most of my contemporaries earned, and continue to, significantly more than I, (educators & writers aren’t paid very much at all) did not make me in the least bit jealous – it did however bother me immensely! Today, I have realized that while I may not be at a similar earning-scale as them, what I have are work satisfaction, a healthy work-life balance, and a peace of mind – all of which are invaluable, and I won’t trade them for all the money in the world.
I used to also feel at times, that I had a vault full of feelings that I needed to communicate to certain people; and that I was not getting an opportunity to express these unresolved emotions. This troubled me no end, and robbed me from any kind of calm state of mind. But then I realized another fact of life.
Logic dictates that in order to be happy and content in life, one must focus on the positives. The things in one’s life one must be grateful for, thankful for. And God knows there are many of those in my life. A mother who has sacrificed all but her life to be with us boys. A wife who has stood by me through thick and thin, and is truthfully the primary reason I have, in the past 5 to 6 years, had the courage to embrace my calling and effectively end my existential crisis. A daughter whom I dote on, who is the most loving, entertaining, and precious thing to me in the world. A brother who is loving in his own strange and unique ways, a source of great strength despite being a fair few years younger. Mentors and guides who have inspired, enlightened. Friends who don’t quite understand and are often times miffed at my blow hot-blow cold behaviour but continue to be by my side steadfastly. My animal-children, who love selflessly, delight endlessly.
39 years I have been on this planet. I feel that only recently, I have begun to contribute, to give back, to pay forward. I also feel that in life’s greater and final equation, if the scale were to be filled and tested, the positives in my life would far outweigh the negatives. And for these reasons it occurs to me, that having reinvented and completely changed the course of my professional life at 35, has been, a boon, not a bane. That if I can do it, most anyone can. And that nothing in the world is worth fighting for, more than following one’s passion. Because that’s a fight for happiness. For inner contentment. One that yields long-term happiness. Restarting life in my mid-30’s, a pursuit that began with much trepidation, nerves, and questioning, has turned out to be the most transformative decision of my life!
Kartik Bajoria is a Writer, Educator & Literary Moderator. [Courtesy: ToI]