Guest blog by Sohini Das
The other day I noticed a quote on Facebook, it grabbed my attention: ‘Do what you love and never work a day in your life'. Simple, powerful and idealistic words. Easy to believe in but hard to practice. When we live in a society guided by social norms and expectations sometimes we forget what we love. And when we remember to do what we love, we often just practice our passions as hobbies, but not as vocations. We really do learn to compromise on who we are. As we grow up we become products of a socialisation process, where the social trends, teachings and trainings guide our life. Something like this happened to me. I was born and brought up in an educated middle class Bengali family and both parents were educated to post graduate level. I was taught to "love" mainstream education and to choose academia as my vocation. My purpose in life since my high school days was to fulfil my parent’s expectations and the social expectations which come with being an educated and learned lady. I had to do well in my academic career and pursue it as a vocation just the way my parents did.
During the crossroads of choosing a career path I was very close to choosing fashion design as my vocation. But I was told that in a middle class family pursuing fashion designing as vocation would mean problems for me. Apparently I would not be able to adjust with the lifestyle changes that a career in fashion designing would demand. I was slowly moulded to choose academics as my career interest. As a child I was really good at creative arts, I enjoyed sketching and fashion designing as a hobby, but as it happens, young minds often get influenced by strong words.
Being academically bright, I did exceptionally well in all my examinations. The teachers soon thought that I would be a good researcher and should pursue an academic career as a lecturer. I had little time to think about what I loved. Some of my creative qualities were probably undermined in the process and I never got to explore some of my other skills. I took up the much coveted job of teaching in an undergraduate college. Soon I realised as much as I enjoyed researching and writing dissertations, I was far from enjoying teaching the undergraduate course. It was a routine job for me.
Luckily within two years I had to move overseas. I started looking for job opportunities in the public sector and accepted a job in library services after a series of similar voluntary experiences. Customer interaction, pursuing promotional skills and chasing event targets, as well as administrative duties provided me with the thrill that I had never experienced in my job as a teacher. My marketing and communication skills were quickly recognised and highly appreciated by my manager. I realised I was enjoying my work, I was doing what I enjoyed and discovering new abilities.
Recently I saw and fell in love with a Hindi film called Tamasha. I felt it was narrating my story, a struggle against Indian traditional views and the cultural expectation that a doctor’s son will be a doctor, a professor’s daughter will be a professor and so on. Almost all of us have been brought up with such robotic and subservient mannerisms that we tend to forget our real selves. It is important to explore and understand one’s own strength and love, to be really successful in the wider world.
Now I started to explore my true passions and interests, I want to continue exploring my promotional, interactive and communication skills. After a year I would like to switch to something more to do with customer relationship management. I have enjoyed teaching young adults and training children in the past and at my current place of work, I would like to continue to do it future. I will focus my job search in the social sector, preferably in NGOs or Government organisations working for children. I also want to manage the business operational side of the work and negotiate with customers or partners as required. This is probably one of the best ways I can mix my varied interests, enjoy my work and not feeling burdened by it.
Many thanks to our guest blogger Sohini Das