If you are around 35 and you started out on a full time career at the age 21 or 22, got married and started a family right away, then maybe your story is like mine.
Maybe it’s taken similar twists and turns and makes for something worthwhile to share. Given such an auspicious start, most women will peak in their careers at around 25. The decade that follows the peaking is the most precarious. This is when she tends to lose her balance on the domestic front. This is what happened with me.
I have been a language trainer-cum-facilitator for one of the most popular foreign languages, French, and I have always been very much in demand for my skills. My daughter, who is now eleven, has always been much more obedient and independent than those of her age and this gave me further impetus to pursue my career goals. Again.
A loving family, a doting daughter, respect and a good social standing – I had it all. It went to my head, it made me reckless, and it made me over ambitious. I wanted to achieve too much too soon. I ignored the warning bells, I stayed so focused that I developed tunnel vision. The balance tipped. I kept going and going and at the age 35, life hit me hard on my face.
A series of crises followed. My dreams and ambitions still soaring high, I was confronted with an ultimatum to choose. My husband and family were frustrated with me; I was asked to choose. Choose to put family before my career; it was a test of love.
It wasn’t an easy decision and so I secluded myself from my family and community for a full forty days. During this period, I went around consulting every person who I thought to be wiser than me. Experienced women who ranged from modern homemakers, friends who are single parents, to happily married homemakers as well as a professional counsellor and finally my husband.
Everyone’s advice had one common theme, “Every achievement, every victory, every success tastes sweeter when there is a loving family to share the happiness with you." One of my wise friends explained it to me with this example.
She said that a woman’s life is like a flight of an airplane that keeps rising higher and higher with newer roles, responsibilities and challenges. But, the airplane has to land; it has to come to the ground for refuelling and servicing. Also, a woman must face her real life with her own family. And even though that may be challenging in itself, it will give her the fuel required for her next flights.
I paused, I introspected. I prioritised. I had been lucky that all through this tumultuous journey of a decade, my husband had been difficult, but had not abandoned me. Also, I am fortunate to have a loving family that, no matter what, chose to withstand all the storms with me. I took my people into confidence.
In that moment, I chose my family over my career. I invited them to become stakeholders in my life so that the journey forward was not so much my journey, but ‘our journey’. That’s what brought the tipped balance back.
YES! I chose my relations but I didn’t let go off my dreams either. Slowly and steadily, with utmost care, I am now moving forward towards them. Haste is waste, my dear friends. Don’t lose the present in search of the future, which is always distant. The keyword that us women must always remind ourselves daily, is BALANCE. Personally, physically, emotionally, economically, psychologically et all.
Balance it right and achieve your dreams. Today, I am stronger and happier. I know that maintaining balance is always a work in progress and demands full attention but it is worth the effort.