I Quit The Job A Million Girls Would Kill For
The way I saw it, for six years, I had the job a million girls would kill for; now let someone else have it. Along with the job, I also quit a fairly respectable pay package, something my middle-class ex-banker father has never really forgiven me for.
For six years, I had a routine. I woke up, wore clothes that were acceptable in a local train and went to work. I worked, had fun, suffered from existential angst (something us millennials specialise in) turned thirty, then thirty-five, and then somehow I was done.
I still remember my Blackberry status the day after I walked out of my office for the last time: ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life.’
Talk of pressure and how.
Why did I quit my job? Because I wanted to do ‘greater’ things. I wanted to travel, write books and screenplays. I wanted to be free. I craved balance.
Yes, I wanted that. That beautiful mythical beast called balance. Because try as you might, that sort of thing is unheard of in a city like Mumbai. For one, about four hours of your day are spent in just commuting. Balance? We have heard of it, we want it. We just don’t know how to get it. Or where?
So I quit and waited for balance to come to me, where not unlike Carrie Bradshaw I would work elegantly at a couple of articles a month, get paid unheard sums of money, enjoy the enviable lifestyle that came with it, spend time with friends and family, indulge in some millennial existential angst about life, love, sex, babies, heartbreak and world peace, travel the world, eat macaroons without getting fat, write that best-selling novel…
Except that the word ‘balance’, it sums up a picture of perfection that is impossible to achieve. This kind of perfection is expected of women anyway. We must be everything all at once, measured down to the exact ounce.
The idea of a work-life-bank-balance seems to be an urban legend. Either you work and you squeeze bits of life into that system. Or you work to absolve yourself of the guilt of doing nothing. And then there is your bank balance--an unrelenting reminder that in order to have the life where you work only if you feel like it, you must first work hard enough to pay for that life.
It is time to ask ourselves, can there be balance in a life that is constantly stuck in a traffic jam? That takes four hours to get to office and back? Is balance possible in a world where what we should eat, drink, inject, consume changes on a daily basis? Is it possible to achieve in a world that is in constant flux? Doesn’t balance somehow imply that your life is now neatly divided into perfectly diced halves and you cannot colour outside the lines?
The whole idea of balance is a pretty little unicorn that is adorable only in one’s imagination. Try to make it real, and it turns into some kind of unrecognisable hairy mutant, drooling on the carpet in the living room and you will not know how to address it. This whole idea is built for guilt. As if women don’t face enough of it already in all other spheres of life.
Is there a way to live without being bothered about the guilt of not balancing it all? The work, the life, the in-betweens? Perhaps the key lies in giving up the idea of balance and letting life be jagged and messy. Perhaps the only form of balance we can practice is in our thoughts. In how we let go of belief systems that don’t serve us anymore. Of narratives that hold and bind us. In self-preservation and looking after ourselves and our money. Perhaps balance means letting all our myriad lives collide and enjoying the chaos. It means, in the midst of all the lists, jams, deadlines, macaroons and ‘living life to the fullest’, we must remember to be kind to ourselves.
Screw balance. I’ll have that topsy turvy with a side order of spontaneity.