Don’t Let Others Dictate Who You Should Be, For You Define Yourself Best

“Oh you devil! Knowing Adil checks his mails on Sunday nights to prepare for the coming week. You sent him your resignation this morning!”

“Oh you devil! Knowing Adil checks his mails on Sunday nights to prepare for the coming week. You sent him your resignation this morning!”

“Adil called.” I messaged Dia, my contemporary, as soon as I got off a frantic call from my boss.

“On the first day of your week-long leave? Actually, why am I surprised? Obviously, he calls when you’re on leave or on tea-break, or lunch break or when the team is leaving for home,” Dia replied in a text oozing with sarcasm.

“I know. He only talks to me when there is a crisis. Otherwise it is all emails and messenger chats. Sometimes I feel I’m more of a fire-fighter than a Marketing Manager. Why can’t he or the other management team seniors talk to me when they see the smoke. Why wait for when things are completely out of hand?”

“Babes, please tell me you chose to miss his call. That’s the only way you will get a peaceful holiday week. You do too much anyway. Like some Superwoman you take on unplanned projects, projects with impossible deadlines, cover for colleagues, take up half- done or jumbled up projects and undo them as if no one had ever screwed it up in the first place. You do so much for the organization—you deserve this break more than anyone else.”

Dia was right. I easily spent 14-15 hours working. I barely worked towards the KRAs which was the carrot for most of my colleagues. I somehow just never said no and turned things around in no time. For the organization, I was a non-replaceable ‘dependable resource’. However, there was no way I would sacrifice my days of rejuvenation – my personal space. I was on my annual break around my birthday. I believed, I certainly deserved these days, them being the only ones I took in the entire year – my days of recuperation. All other days I am a happy workaholic with occasional bouts of ‘I should quit right away!’ thoughts. Dia, my team member, knew my love-hate relationship with Adil. She noticed that these bouts appeared only after meetings with Adil. So, I concluded that work wasn’t an issue, the people there were.

“Well, I did receive the call. Surprisingly he remembered I was on leave! He tried to sound apologetic, ‘Sushree, I know I am disturbing you on your leave but this is very urgent and important. The director himself called to brief. A skip level senior calling, you know what I mean. Please book your tickets for this Friday and be there.’”

“Izzzokay, you chill.” Dia assured. “I’m here in office, let me know how to go about it. I will get it done. Call you in 20!”

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“Thanks sooner the better!” Dia was my desk neighbour, office best friend, soul colleague (if there is something like that). She was one of the few people who could calm me down.

An hour later after calls with Dia and our con-calls with various vendors for the event, I called Adil to align him. “Adil, I am on leave and you know that very well. I wouldn’t be working this week. I’ve taken time out today and aligned Dia. She has helped me last year in similar events she will pull it through. I’ve also spoken to all the vendors involved and sensitised them of the timelines of the project.” I spoke to my boss clenching my fists so that I don’t end up yelling. I let him know, the product showcase, for the sudden investor’s meet, of a 10000 crore company which unbelievable got planned overnight would be managed. This time it was me who had caught him miss a job not the other way around. “Dia is on top of everything, please share cost approvals for vendors to pull this through in the stipulated time. She will travel with you for the event as I’m on leave.” I authoritatively informed him what is needed of him next.

This conversation with Adil took me back to thoughts I had pushed away 4 months ago – of quitting. I had tried switching teams however there wasn’t any vacancy within the company and its associated businesses, job shifts were on hold. Jobs available in the ‘market’, were not as lucrative. My best bet then was to stay on. So I stayed put.

“Look who is back after a major recoup!” Dia beamed as I walked into office after the break albeit a few hours later than my usual in-time, very unusual of me. “What’s up! How was the ‘chutti’? Did you meet mum? And the friends you kept pushing because of project deadlines. What movies would our Critique recommend, I’m damn sure you binged watched all the latest movies.” she ushered me to the office pantry.

“Apart from the first 2-3 hours, which you know of, the rest were extremely invigorating. Everything I planned for my week just made my idea of quitting this job stronger.”

“What are you saying!”

“Girls night out with mom made me realise how I’ve always been self-sufficient and self-reliant. The daily grind put me off my larger plan. I had come here for a purpose. To learn about business management, take the learning and move on to an independent set up.” Dia’s doe eyes dilated in veneration. “The movies I caught up on were pure motivation to get out there and do something. This week has left me overwhelmed with my idea of having my own enterprise; my identity.”

“Inner Peace. Inner Peace. Inner Peace.” My partner broke into a jig from from Kung Fu Panda.

“I hate to give Adil the credit for being the propeller of my decision but that is the truth. I did wake up and smell the coffee which Adil kept telling me to do.”

“Update: the event was a dud! Not many people turned up. We expected a footfall of 2500 but looked like barely 600 -700 turned up.” Dia filled me in. She had chosen not to update me over the weekend. “Achha, now tell me, did you say something more to Adil which I don’t know about. He seems to be in a foul mood since morning. He’s walked to our aisle to check for you twice already. Did he call you?”

I only smiled. I had walked in to office 2 hours late. Dia pulled me by my arm and took me to the fire exit stair well, our gossip spot, “Tell no!”

“Last night, I opened my laptop and typed a mail. 5 simple sentences to our dearest Adil. I was just about to send it when I realised he doesn’t deserve my resignation letter over the weekend; it should hit him hard first thing Monday morning.”

“Oh you devil! Knowing Adil checks his mails on Sunday nights to prepare for the coming week. You sent him your resignation this morning!”

We both giggled and got back to our desks.

Within a month I was out of the system the normal timeframe of a notice period. On a personal level it was challenging to close projects quicker and handing over my on-going projects to colleagues. But it was time. I felt relieved since I had shot that mail to Adil.

Dia and I promised to keep in touch however for some strange reason we met only after 8-9 months of my quitting.

One bright Sunday morning my phone rang, “Hello! Am I talking to the most successful Business and Transition Coach of the year?” asked Dia’s excited voice from the other side of the phone. I was awarded the ‘Bright Star of the Year’ by the All Ladies Guild, Mumbai Chapter that morning, this call told me news had spread in the corporate vines. I had toiled hard and helped friends and small start-ups to set their businesses removing self-doubt and providing them a launch pad to fly with their ideas. “Coffee?”

Over coffee I poured my heart out to Dia.

“Quitting the system brought to me a different kind of calmness. Adil letting me go without a question or trying to retain me filled me with lots more drive.” I continued to fill her in, “Every day at every second I kept thinking, what is it that I want to do. I knew I could be a good trainer. But then what field should I coach in. I studied organisations, company trends, their strengths, and their weakness. Spoke to friends with jobs and those who turned entrepreneurs, kept on feeding myself with what is going on.” I took Dia through my thought process and ideation.

“Listed as a ‘Bright Start of the Year’! How did this happen?”

“Planning” I grinned. “No actually, it just happened. A distant cousin was running her tiny tiffin service business for 3 years now and needed some streamlining to grow big that’s how ‘Radhika’s Kitchen’ came to existence. She now caters to house parties.”

“This sounds exciting! Tell me more!”

“I observed most of the time people have ideas of what they want to do but then they get stuck. So I took it on myself to sort their lives. Help them achieve goals be it individual or business goals.”

So that’s how, ‘Inspiron Designs’ was born?” she asked indicating to a project I had shared on Facebook.

“Well yes, a school friend who is now a mother of two just knew she wanted to do ‘something’. She has studied fine arts so I was clear with the business she could do. I spent time with her, learnt her daily schedule, got some understanding of her skill set. I then moved on to studying the existing market for needs and possible competition of art connoisseurs. Lo and behold, she now takes painting classes at home and is a visiting expert at art schools in the city. We will be soon coming up with quick DIY craft videos for online consumption. She’s now a brand. She had to only recognise her potential. As soon as she believed in herself, she was no longer felt tied down with home chores and family responsibilities.”

“Ab-so-lu-te-ly BRILLIANT!!! Woohoo!” Dia threw her arms in the air.

“I looked around further and noticed that there are a lot of people who have strong ideas. They are confident in their own skills; however, when it comes to strategising them into a business idea they are lost. Right there is where I found an opportunity for myself to fit in – a communication and planning professional turned new business development specialist.”

“Sounds posh!”

“Ha ha ha. No, not at all! I had to only put two and two together. I sat myself down and figured what is my most comfortable acquired skill and what is it that I like socially. Bringing together my business management skills and my mothering personality I started taking small group workshops for students with business ideas and in no time turned into a coach for start-ups.”

“Oh Su! This is just perfect. You would do justice to such creative individuals. You are the best they can have to translate their ideas into genuine businesses. You retain the passion and don’t get mechanical with your work. And that’s exactly what they need.”

“Thanks girl! Now tell me when do I see you grow into a lotus up from the mud pool that you are in.”

“Your achievements keep me going, Su. They act as booster shots. I am much poised and assertive since you left. I now have a 2 member team. Getting promoted this season! You exude positivity without knowing, Sushree. You are highly inspirational!”

“Have you read Apurva Purohit’s book ‘Lady You Are Not A Man’. She says that we should stop being ‘Suffering Sitas’. We ladies end up getting burdened with the sufferer tag and under that veil don’t tackle a problem but act as a victim. We should instead tackle it head on, ignore the mundane, break barriers and stand for ourselves. Guess we are live examples to her theory!” We chuckled.

Editor’s note: This story had been shortlisted for the February 2018 Muse of the Month, but not among the top 5 winners.

Image source: unsplash

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