Today, a year ago, was my first day after quitting my very first job. It was part-scary and part-exciting, so much so that I woke up from one of the best sleeps of my life and had a fit of paranoia in the same week. From getting up in Bangalore that morning to a year later, writing this blog from a small town on a river bank about 33 miles from London, it has been quite the journey. 2014 has been kind and excruciating, although when I look back, it’s only the good things that I can recall but the year has been challenging and if given a chance, honestly, I would change 100 different things in it, but I think it is okay to accept facts and move on. It’s been a year of Yoda-level wisdom gathering and epic goof-ups. I met some fantastic people in the past year, from riders in the mountains to fellow passengers who for some reason, never hesitated to share their story and add a life-tip after our conversation; maybe I made them feel that I could use some, and no doubt I could have used some, I can use some still. As much as this blog is about coming a full circle, it is also a hopeful look-out for the times to come.
What I’ve learnt since a year of quitting my job to move onto doing something I have wanted for a long time is what this blog is about. I’m still in the process of getting there, but I’m sure it’s going to be just fine.
You’ve Got To Really Want It! — I worked as an engineer in a technological firm and moved into photography without realising how utterly low my skill-sets were. The first week at the new ‘job’ was a jab to the gut, but you’ve got to Karate the shit out of the situation! You have got to use this to your benefit, because the less you know, the more there are opportunities to learn. And you have got to have the interest to learn, it is otherwise a downward spiral of non-recreational alcohol, binge-watching reality TV and gaining 10pounds in a week (and no, I don’t speak from experience). I wish, if I could tell the year-old me that you’re not as good as you think you are. There are so many out there who give up everyday and move-on; why do that if you can find the courage in yourself to power through and that could happen only if you really want it, so you’ve got to really want it.
Grow A Pair — The funny thing about priorities are that people like me, have it figured out but don’t necessarily have the drive to be loyal to them. When I look back, I wish I had the courage to do the software-engineered trash talk and say, “F*** this piece of code, I am done debugging”, but I didn’t. There were a few nights that I would sleep thinking of problems at work and how unhappy I was with the way ‘things’ were happening. It usually makes perfect sense, if you’re unhappy, make a change, but the courage to follow through changes and own their repercussions is down-right scary at times. I think, on this day, I have a lot more courage to follow through my plans and take decisions that I wouldn’t have risked taking a year ago — in pop culture term, I might be refereed to as someone who has grown a pair.
Being Paranoid Helps — But following this pair-growing phenomenon comes the phase of being paranoid and if you go by what I have to say, it helps. As paradoxical as it sounds, it is true. The process of making life-changing decisions follow the paranoia-filled uncertainty. And that is a good thing! New neural networks in the brain start firing up making it the phase of enchanted self-discovery while maintaining a flow and ebb of ideas that are affecting your well-being day by day. This for me, was the first week of my new found freedom, starting Feb 04, 2014 to Feb 09, 2014. Soon after this phase of brand-new neural network arrangement I was left with just paranoia! And just paranoia did great for me. I was always worried, always tensed and hence always prepared. In retrospect it was because of the fact that I really wanted to be a photographer, I still do. The paranoia is still around and in some ways I have arranged for a symbiotic relationship — it feeds off my constant worrying, I try to keep myself prepared in return. Trust me, being paranoid helps.
You Always Have A Plan B — Life’s too short to NOT do something you like and too long to experiment and fail with a thousand different things. I’ve had the pleasure of being passionate about a few things — from the want of being a professional sportsperson in high school, to later being a musician; for lack of a better understanding of ‘things’, settling for studying engineering (which I thoroughly enjoyed), to becoming a graphic designer and finally a photographer, that too in the first week of my job as a software engineer. But every phase has taught me something, much like it teaches everyone something. It is always helpful to nurture this feeling of “being taught” by experiences. And truth be told the way things work out, in hindsight, it seems like a carefully executed plan. We might always know it, but we always have a Plan B.
What’s The Worst That Could Happen? — As scary as it sounds, the analysis of this question, personally is the best stress buster. Ripping off John Mayer on his quote, as true to the fact that fear helps in being prepared of uncertainty, it’s also a friend that’s misunderstood. The way I look at it sometimes, if the worst that could happen isn’t that you “DIE! DIE! DIE!”, the situation is manageable. It got a little morbid there but the point I am trying to drive home is, more often than not, a Plan B lurks in the analysis to this question and isn’t too far from the ideal situation. Yes, instead of getting the utopian ‘there’ in the best possible time, if might take a little longer to make it, but it is still okay. So in my opinion, lay down all your scenarios, plan and deal with it (if it’s not death) because, what’s the worst that could really happen?
Find a Sensei. Trust the Sensei. — I was lucky to have found mine – Aneev. Brutally honest and extremely funny, that’s all you need in a master. What you’ve got to be is completely trusting, and that’s all. I held myself accountable for some of the most basic errors I made, if I could change this other thing, I would have liked to be harder on myself than what I was. The thing is, there is barely any room in this world for mediocrity; there are so many out there who could half-bake a cake and complain about the ingredients being wrong. Having said that, there is definitely no room for self-loathing as well, which is why it always helps to talk to your mentor and reason out your understanding of things. And who knows, the sensei might recommend you to apply for a photography programme in the UK over a round of beer after a good day of shoot and about six months later you could be writing about it for a blog. For that sake alone, find a sensei and trust the sensei.
Familia — The exceptional amount of support, trust and strength I have received from my family has been exceptional to the point that it was surprising! It counts a lot to talk to your family about what’s going on and the sheer enthusiasm with which they want to know about the recent changes. Nothing beats the fact that a year ago, I made a joke to my father (who back then had quite recently taken an early retirement from work) about being unemployed, suggesting that we’re the only ‘jobless’ ones in the family. It is under their protection and heartfelt support that I know that I can achieve what I have set out to. Always, love thy familia.
Don’t/Can’t/Won’t/Shouldn’t Quit — As I wrote earlier, there is barely any room in this world for mediocrity. Added on it the pressure of performance is the daily struggle of the once-much-celebrated Generation X. It doesn’t ever make sense to give up, unless you’ve tried a million different ways of making things work, because if you haven’t, the ‘change’ in itself is not justified. This is where I like to think about the 1000-day rule, it is pretty much the theory that if you’re working on an idea, giving it at least a 1000 days to workout is necessary. This is where the collective effort from my family, my sensei, my paranoia, my analysis to the dreaded question and my plan B helps. The way I look at it, if all else fails, think of doing that one that you find the most pleasure in, so much so that you wished it was the way of life – right there you’d know how to carry on.
I hope what I’ve learnt from this past year stays with me and keeps me moving forward. For better or for worse, it has gotten me so far, I don’t see why it won’t take me all the way.