Turning Back Time

Posted: June 24, 2013

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“I wish I had held on to my job and deferred moving here post marriage.”

The voice at the other end of the telephone line sounded wistful. I nodded sagely knowing too well that feeling. Even as I wrapped up the call, I was assailed by memories from a decade back. Excitement at getting married. Eagerness to start a new life in a new country. The hope and optimism that pervaded my being. Then the ground reality of trying to find a job in a post 9/11 economy.

I shook my head and went about my routine chores. Words formed and unformed themselves in my head. What were the things I would tell a younger myself now that I had the benefit of having walked those shoes?

reverse-the-clock1. Hold on to your identity. It could be your job. Your hobbies. Your friends. Anything that defines who you are. Often in the eagerness to mold seamlessly into our partner’s life, we let go of the things that moor us. We find new jobs, make new friends and adopt new hobbies. While it is fun to learn new things and make new friends, hold on to the old ones. They defined you before and will be your anchor as you navigate new waters.

2. Do your homework. If you are moving to a new place or a new country, find out if you can transfer to an office in the new place or work remotely. If that is not possible, give yourself time to find a new job in the new place. Read up on employment regulations, what is possible within the scope of the visa on which you are travelling and what is not. It is easier to figure these out before you move and plan accordingly rather than move and then to work within the constraints.

3. Be mobile. Learn driving if you do not know to drive. If you do, get a driver’s licence and explore the new place. Figure out public transport. Take the bus or train and walk around locally. Get a feel for the place. It helps forge a connection with the place that will be your new home.

4. Make new friends. Library, Cultural associations, Places of worship all give plenty of ways to meet people and connect with those that share a common interest. With new friends comes a new network. Leverage it personally and professionally.

5. Embrace the new. We enter our new lives holding on to expectations and aspirations that stem from a different time in our lives. Sometimes they are met. Most times they are not. Find it in you to unshackle mentally and embrace the new life as is. Without preconditions.

6. Live in the present. It is fun to plan your life around future kids and their needs. The truth is that you live in the present. Do not let what ifs rule your present. Kids may happen or they may not. Planning your life around them effectively robs you of the present as well.

7. This will pass. The tears that fall in a puddle by your feet. That golf ball sized lump of hurt that you swallow. That pain that threatens to overcome you. All of that will pass. You will lose loved ones. There will be times when you feel like you cannot move past the current crisis in your life. All of that, yup, all of that will pass.

Pic credit: Blitho (Used under a Creative Commons license)

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  1. Lakshmi, loved this post!!

    Wish i could have read something like this about 2 years back when i was a SAHM and didnt like it at all…i just couldnt connect with other SAHMs especially those who never worked and didnt have a life beyond their home and kids!

    Luckily, i overcame it all and started working…feel so much better now!!

    • Sri, Thank you. I won’t get into the SAHM/WM debate as I believe the lessons I learned apply equally to both. It is about retaining your identity and creating a new one in the face of life changing events. We as women tend to treat marriage and kids as show stoppers when in reality they are just one of the many things that happen to us like school finals and getting a job. Mere milestones in the journey of life.

  2. Pingback: Turning back time | Saying it aloud!

  3. Hi Lakshmi,
    Your article takes me back to 2009, when I was a newlywed NRI wife who had left my career and family behind to move to the Philippines.
    It was the height of the recession and jobs were in short supply. Looking back, I see that it was a phase and somewhat of a blessing in disguise as the short supply of jobs was what made me dive into full-time writing instead.
    Almost five years on, I have two published books on the Broadcast News Industry and my third book is an interpretation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where Alice is a Newlywed NRI wife.
    ‘A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land’
    I’d love to know your thoughts on it 🙂

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