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A reality story - Women's week

mudraswathi IF-Stunnerz
mudraswathi
mudraswathi

Joined: 25 January 2012
Posts: 29773

Posted: 26 December 2014 at 3:32am | IP Logged
This the women's week / female's week / less prominant gender group..whatever you call.. This is it. I have been receiving many read recommendations... Then eyes caught this particular piece..

http://theladiesfinger.com/at-work-i-was-almost-in-the-big-league-heres-why-i-dropped-out/

reproducing the same for every one's convenience. I have connected it with me, Anjani, Dee and every one... who are struggling between becoming  night owls and the harsh realities of life!

By  Devika Kumar

There was a time when I thought my life was really cool.

At 24, I had a huge professional breakthrough. My salary nearly doubled and I jumped several rungs up the corporate ladder. I couldn't believe my luck. I thought I had it made. Someone had decided that I was worth x' amount of money, which was higher than the industry average, even though I had only y' amount of experience, which, in years, wasn't all that high. It was exhilarating. I had it all planned. In six years, I was going to be in one of those oh-so-posh Top 30 at 30 lists of an impressive magazine. In 10, I was going to write an inspiring book about shattering the infamous glass ceiling. There would be YouTube videos about how I had managed to "have it all". My hair would, by some miracle, sit quietly and look pretty atop my head.

And then life hit me. Oh boy, it hit me so hard.

I clearly remember the first time it happened. It was about midnight. A new WhatsApp group - a "Core Group" from work. My groggy, almost-asleep brain woke up and tested those words aloud in the darkness. I decided I liked it. I liked belonging. It was like being the only woman member in an elite gentlemen's club. I was the creative head but it seemed 1am to 3am were the bewitching hours when everyone was better at my job than I was. It was the first time I sacrificed my sleep to indulge men who liked to intellectually masturbate at ungodly hours. "Don't these guys sleep? Or have sex? Or just do anything other than work?" I often wondered. But the message I was internalising was that everyone else was working harder. Maybe I wasn't bringing my fair share to the table. I started living with a subtle, but lingering feeling of guilt. Wondering if I really did deserve my seat at the adult table. Wondering if I'd just gotten lucky. Wondering, doubting, questioning...but never believing. And so I didn't say a word. Late-night WhatsApp conversations about work became the accepted norm.

It didn't stop there.

As a tech company, we were always trying out new apps and services. As the number of sources increased, so did the number of groups. If I'd happen to wake up in the night, I'd start checking how many likes a particular post had generated on our FB page. How many more people had liked our page? Did we need to boost this page? From there it was on to Twitter, then Pinterest, then Vine, our YouTube channels and finally the company blog. I'd sit, transfixed at 2am, staring at Google Analytics and wondering if these many visitors a day were good enough. Soon, my body clock adjusted to factor in this task; I started waking up every night to look at live social reports. The lines between professional and personal spaces were so blurred, it was almost as if they didn't exist. I've lost count of the number of times when I'd disappear into the bathroom for a decidedly odd number of minutes during dates because there was always some idea to be discussed, some expansion plan that required immediate fist-pumping-in-the-air level of enthusiasm or some clarification that couldn't wait until morning. I felt like I was caught in a polygamous work marriage, where when my various husbands said, "jump", I simply asked, "how high?"

Four years into this lifestyle, I had my first breakdown and consequently, take-charge-of-life epiphany. I had hit rock bottom, creatively and emotionally. Four years of being the beck and call girl had turned me into a highly strung bundle of tension. I was so scared of dropping the ball, I refused to step back, take a breath and regroup. I don't know which idiot taught me that the solution to burnout was adding more fuel to the fire! I started putting in more and more hours at work to fix things but achieved lesser and lesser with each passing quarter. Amidst all this, I was made aware of the clang, not the tick, of the biological clock. Marriage. Husband. Household. Babies. More responsibilities.

That's when I finally, at blessed last, dropped the ball. I'd gone for a weekend trip to meet my nephew and I realised that we had no connection at all. He'd slink away from me and I had no idea how to talk to this tiny person. I remember returning from the weekend and spending a whole day in front of the computer, unable to key in one productive word, unable to write in a single email. I remember feeling numb on the outside and really, really cold and hollow on the inside.

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Like every recovering addict, I realised I had to go cold turkey if I wanted a real shot at turning things around. I took a six-month-long sabbatical and decided to get Leh-ed, like so many friends had been doing for so many years and coming back with life-changing epiphanies. In those six months I climbed some mountains, lived in many huts, smoked some really strong pot, made some seriously ugly paintings and met friends scattered around the world and came back a whole lot more at peace with myself and my world. And most importantly, after so many years, I was back to living without a gadget attached to me like a phantom limb. The first thing I did after coming back to my really dumb smartphone was go delete, delete, delete. All social networks and every messaging app went out the virtual window. Next came the tougher task of setting boundaries. I stopped replying to work emails, calls or messages between 8pm and 10am. There were times when I had to physically separate myself from my various devices by locking them up in mom's cupboard. I stopped working weekends. And most importantly, I stopped trying to explain my absences. It was a relief to stop sending my relatives to the hospital every time I was unavailable. I started taking my vacation days, instead of encashing them at the end of the year. When no one died, everyone got used to it. There were some snide comments initially, but I learnt to ignore them and carry on. When the monthly reports came, they were forced to shut up.

Surprisingly, I found support from some really unexpected sources. One of my biggest champions was one of the bosses. After a few weeks of quizzical looks, he joined in. Together, we'd pointedly switch off our computers and walk out calmly at 7pm sharp unless there was a pressing emergency. Once he came on board, things started changing. Not dramatically, but in small, imperceptible ways. People laughed just a little bit more. They looked a little less tired in photos.

Surprisingly, my female colleagues were the ones who almost sucked me back into the black hole. We were a young company with a low average age. Most of the girls in office were unmarried, ambitious and willing to put in crazy hours to earn that promotion and prove they were equal, if not better than the boys. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised. These girls were clones of my former self. Hungry for success but unsure if they deserved it. Worried, but aggressive. Insanely talented, but burning out rapidly. The work environment we were all operating in - not just as a company but as a country - breeds workaholics. At a time when technology is advancing at a pace where the concept of 8-hour-long workdays might soon be redundant because human beings won't need to work that much, I couldn't understand why the number of hours put in was still being used as a metric for commitment to excellence. At a time when technology was enabling a seamless transition between the two physical spaces that a person occupies - the work space and the home space -why weren't we using its complete potential? Why were women still struggling to choose between ambition and motherhood? Sitting in a tech company, the questions were too hard to ignore. As for the women at my workplace, much to their resentment, I steadfastly refused to look impressed when broad hints were dropped about how early they were walking in and how late they were staying until. In my team at least, I started welcoming requests for flexi-timings, regardless of gender assignations. Not everyone came on board with the plan immediately, many still aren't; I know it's a work in progress, but it's a project worth the effort.

One of the questions I was asked a lot by friends was why now? I was single, ambitious and driven. I was this close to breaking into the big league. Why did I want to cut back now? Why did I want to work only 7-8 hours a day? There was no husband or baby waiting for me to come back home and take care of them. This, I believe, is the core of the issue. Who had given anyone permission to decide that matrimony and motherhood are the two noble pursuits that justify a need for work-life balance? So here's my answer for anyone who's asked me why: I want to work only 8 hours because I want to go back home and stare at the ceiling and make plans for world domination while scratching my cat's ears. Or I want to daydream while rearranging my underwear drawer - it's when I'm struck by most creative ideas. Or I want to go on a new date every night so that when I am old and wrinkly, I'll have hundreds of stories to tell my grandkids. Or I want to see the friends who live in the same city but I haven't met in years, because "Who has the time to travel to the other side of the city?" When I cut back on work, I wanted to have that time, and it seemed (still does) like a good enough reason.

I'm a recovering workaholic. That's my story.




Edited by mudraswathi - 26 December 2014 at 3:32am

The following 8 member(s) liked the above post:

hkp11shobha21floridadocbabita..Anjani9Veni-Vidi-Vicittrocksbawaswift

Veni-Vidi-Vici IF-Sizzlerz
Veni-Vidi-Vici
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Posted: 26 December 2014 at 5:21am | IP Logged
TFS Mudraji...stuff to ponder about

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shobha21floridadocbabita..mudraswathi

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Posted: 26 December 2014 at 6:04am | IP Logged
TFS Mudraji.

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floridadocbabita..mudraswathi

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Posted: 26 December 2014 at 10:14am | IP Logged
Tfs Mudra.  Work can take over lives or be adjusted to keep our lives going. Embarrassed

Worse is when folks in different parts of the world have to interact and work together - ie  folks in India on IST or night shift to work with US folks in EST or vice versa - our US night time to work with folks in India in IST time.  That is happening a lot in our IT world!! AngryAngry  Then what do we do???  Software support is required 24x7, when services are down at any time, then all are responsible.  Women have it worse - what to do with busy lives - whether unmarried, married, married with family.  Women run around multi-tasking to keep up with all the duties. EmbarrassedConfused

World is getting smaller and smaller.  Reach out    and touch someone is now the norm.  Lines blurred between work and personal lives.

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shobha21floridadocbabita..mudraswathittrocks

ttrocks IF-Stunnerz
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Posted: 26 December 2014 at 10:16am | IP Logged
TFS Mudraji. Food for thought...

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hkp11shobha21floridadocbabita..mudraswathi

mudraswathi IF-Stunnerz
mudraswathi
mudraswathi

Joined: 25 January 2012
Posts: 29773

Posted: 26 December 2014 at 10:26am | IP Logged
Originally posted by hkp11

Tfs Mudra.  Work can take over lives or be adjusted to keep our lives going. Embarrassed

Worse is when folks in different parts of the world have to interact and work together - ie  folks in India on IST or night shift to work with US folks in EST or vice versa - our US night time to work with folks in India in IST time.  That is happening a lot in our IT world!! AngryAngry  Then what do we do???  Software support is required 24x7, when services are down at any time, then all are responsible.  Women have it worse - what to do with busy lives - whether unmarried, married, married with family.  Women run around multi-tasking to keep up with all the duties. EmbarrassedConfused

World is getting smaller and smaller.  Reach out    and touch someone is now the norm.  Lines blurred between work and personal lives.


Sometimes, the work conditions demand us to work that way.. and we cannot do anything to solve it. But, many times we see the cultutre of working limitless number of hours to keep up with competition is ultimately getting on to the employees... Physically and emotionally...

Where is the end to it.. what is the solution? whether this should lead to man-woman equality.. or better go back to the world where always man brings the money and woman runs the home...Embarrassed

.thank you Hina.

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hkp11shobha21floridadocbabita..

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Posted: 26 December 2014 at 12:29pm | IP Logged
TFS Mudra di Hug
Women in every field have to come up anyhow.

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