How it took me 12 years to dream a new dream

Happy 2019 to all beautiful ladies out there.

Hi everyone, I’m back to complete my story from my last blog “You can have it all but not at the same time” but the Story does not end yet. It has only begun!

Back to Grind

Isn’t it always the case for most of the working women? Same was with me, trying to resume work with a 3 year old after the break (a well lived 1 year American dream) leaving behind my better half in a pacific time zone and returning to India to rejoin my Indian MNC where I dreamed of making it big. I always believed in being strong and chasing my dreams which gave me the boost required to travel alone with my daughter and get back to Chennai this time (I left from Hyderabad but was asked to resume at Chennai office as there was an unfilled position only there). With my parents support, we had our new establishment in Chennai and house was very close to my workplace & daughter’s play school cum day care ( a very renowned corporate day care).

I juggled between taking care of kid, picking and dropping her off, where she started her preschool program. Mom joined me at my house to be the moral support till my hubby returned from US (his assignment was still going on) and Dad traveled from Cochin to be with us as much as possible admist his work commitments. I returned to work in full swing in the month of February (those in our business know how the work pressure gets crazy in the months of Feb & March). It was challenging for my kid to adapt to the new atmosphere, new school, staying away now from both mom and dad but was supporting us and trying to enjoy having grandparents around.

Confronted with society

Even in today’s world, a woman is seen as someone who cannot survive without the help of a man. The whole office, relatives and neighbors, etc were constantly pestering me and my mom on why I live away from my husband and whether something was wrong between us. People in my office came up to me and advised all the time about how I should be concentrating on having a second kid and devote time in raising kids instead of sitting in office for long hours and helping my boss achieve his targets for the Financial year ending.

My Boss did have doubts initially on my knowledge and capabilities of how I would do after a year long break and infact did throw up some random questions to see if I remembered everything. Once I jokingly did tell him, “Sir, I was on break but didn’t have partial Amnesia or memory loss and still used to study & read more to stay updated on what was happening in the Industry even during my break”. I was absolutely getting back that same momentum with which I used to work before and was being very successful in driving results using my previous experience in the same field and was able to perform well within the limited time hours as I had other priority after office hours (my daughter). Though my daughter was missing her dad, she was getting compensated for love from her both grandmoms & grandpas (my in laws also lived in Chennai) and pampered thoroughly.

Don’t do what you love

Since I was loving my job which was the sole motivation to leave American dream where I don’t have the work permit as well to pursue a different career, I wanted to give it my best shot and I did. Within the two months I joined, my team (headed by me) achieved the highest collection target which was the highest ever for the Business unit and my BU head (boss) was rejoicing and celebrating with sweet distribution and partying (the first time that anyone actually saw him celebrating in our office).

But people (other colleagues) around just couldn’t digest the fact that I left office exactly at 5.30 PM while all others stayed back late hours and worked even on weekends and holidays. They tried to poke nose on how I alone got to leave “early” and raised issues with my Boss saying I was demoralizing other hardworking staff. I seriously till date don’t believe that staying late is a metric for hardwork, it just shows how inefficient others could be. I was getting some privileges they felt by leaving on time, whereas I worked after office hours (late at night) if at all a situation demanded.

Over the years, nothing had changed in this organization, still people had the old school thoughts and after living in US I could see how outdated our practices were and how staying late in office, replying to mails after office hours was considered as hard working and normal practice, and how still work from home was not at all an option even when it could be totally worked out technically – conference calls on mobile, internet connection was more than sufficient to run the show. How can you do what you love when there are people waiting to ruin things for you.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world

My hubby was surely missing his family, being at the other side of the world and being 12 hours apart in timezone. We had to take a call, should we continue doing this long distance relationship or should he just move back to India or should I move back to US. We knew it was too tough to make things work this way, as our little daughter deserved both her parents beside. So now he had to end his assignment and return or extend his stay to pursue the American dream and I should join him back in the states.

Life on the Fence

I was torn in between to take a decision – staying in Chennai and chasing my career goals or moving back to states and trying to make things smoother for my daughter who was having a hard time missing her friends, her endless playtimes in amazing open playgrounds with no fear of pollution, mosquito bites or getting hurt (seriously parks in India needs a lot of improvement and made more kid friendly with safety measures). Work was great but people around me wouldn’t let me do it peacefully. I was asked to stay late in office to match with the culture in the office which affected my personal life as my quality time with my daughter gets reduced and also I cant miss the time of her pick up from daycare. During critical Budget meetings when I knew I was going to leave office late at night, I had my dad come over to Chennai just to pick and drop my kid as my mom is an Arthritic patient as well as Heart patient and is not very mobile.

End of an Era

Amongst all this, I heard back from the Not-for-profit Organization I had applied to long back asking me to join their Board as the Board of Directors and volunteer to run the association jointly with the current team. Though, being Board of Director at my current company was my dream I did have second thoughts on continuing in the same Organization and post working after resuming from break for 6 months, I left back to US and joined my hubby & the NGO. I resigned from the Organization with which I was associated for 12 years. It wasn’t easy as several precious relations were built over the years. My Boss tried to persuade me a lot and one of my teammate cried, but still I had to make this hard choice. Was like getting a divorce from a very lovely married life but there was another real marriage that I had to make work.

Today, I am the Board of Director at this higher educational institution and help other men/women to get into their Careers after break or advance their careers in existing field. I get to balance work-life so much better with this position and finally job isn’t about earning money, its doing what you love and using your potential to give back to the society & community at large.

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