I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost
This Jan 27th, it will be 9 years since I wrote that resignation email, and more importantly sent it out, with mixed emotions – couple of doubts, some hindrance, all of it overrriden by a lot of hope, and the urge to give more time to the society.
It was not an easy decision, but I just made it very quick, thanks especially to Su, and a couple of friends, who made it easy to do so. We had just spent the Republic Day volunteeering, and watching movies like LOC Kargil, Swades, which probably made it easier to shoot out that email, without any more thought.
Working in the development sector was considered to be something you did post retirment, if you couldn’t handle the ‘stress’ in the IT world, or if you just wanted to do something lighter! Most of us fall into none of those categories. Let’s just say that we found something we loved more, and which required more of our time.
Anyway, this post is for a couple of folks who ask me what does crossing over look/ feel like. I will try and answer a few of those questions as briefly as possible. 🙂
Again, I am not saying that my way is the highway! No! We all play different roles for the society, and each of them are as important as the other, as long as we give back in whatever way we can, and so desire. Only, it’s great that this path has evolved much more now, and people are more open to explore opportunities and choose this alternate career path, if I may call it that. 🙂
Just linking a few earlier posts, in case someone wants to go through those train of thoughts along the journey:
Coming back to the present, here we go:
What to expect?
Move into unknown/ unexplored territory – Even after all these years, we learn and are surpised by so many things. It’s new, fresh, challenging, interesting, and much more. Be ready for the roller-coaster ride. 🙂 It’s a vast landscape afterall!
Lifestyle changes – Does it call for lifestyle changes? Ofcourse it does! Starting from the simple thing that weekends are very different – direct welfare like taking care of children/ elderly, distributing food can’t stop on weekends, and most working people prefer (rather have to) to volunteer/ give time on weekends only, when it comes to projects like cleanathons etc…
Also, it does call for some altruism. You still can strike that perfect work-life balance as they call it, so no worries. It’s just different, but you will work it out.
Do some perks vanish – Ofcourse they do! But you stop paying heed in some time.
I am worried!
What will the work be like? – Depends on the kind of role you take up (Direct Welfare, Collaboration, Systemic Change, so on), and the area you choose to work in (Education, Health, Elder care, Veteran welfare, Children and women support, etc..). In summary, it’s different, but also making use of all those skills you learnt. Yes, it needs the professional touch of the outside world, but also needs you to explore and experiment it’s applicability – not one size fits all, or plug-and-play.
What will people say? – This is one of the most common questions, worries, but also the one we need to pay least attention to. More than me, my parents faced this oh so much! Like choosing to be different was a sin. However, people sometimes are also genuinely interested in knowing since it’s not very common. Take time to tell them in brief and invite them to visit and see for themselves.
What would be different?
Work environment, infrastructure with make shift facilities and shared resources, less support staff – in most of the cases, this is how it is. Though I have heard and seen a few, large organizations on par with the external world. We are here to craft change, and it begins with us. This never proves to be a deterrent; only takes some time to get used to.
Very many stakeholders – You are meeting a school teacher one day, the Block Education Officer the next, some large-hearted philanthropist on another.
No/ little benchmarking and standards – Evolving, remember? Though it’s much better than a decade ago.
Pay Structure 🙂
What does it take?
No stress, but ofcourse hardwork – Very common question. There’s ofcourse no stress, unless you yield to difference in circumstances. But there is ofcourse loads of work, contrary to usual belief. You are trying to change the society, the nation, the world, one step at a time. 🙂
Openness to learn – sometimes people younger than you, those at the grassroots (may not be as educated as we are as per societal norms, but are the best at what they do!)
Willingness to unlearn – Most important. 🙂
Passion – This underlies it all. You will do it! 🙂
Circle of concern to circle of influence – What’s that one thing/ one cause which appeals to you the most, and would love to contribute to?
Act and not crib – I have realized that cribbing drains us out, leaves us so full of pessimism. Trying to act, in whatever little way possible, leaves us rejuvenated and optimistic about the future.
In essence, change starts with just giving whatever time/ skills/ talent/ resources we could give, and not necessarily take the plunge full-time. So, any of the above should apply to volunteering too, and I have seem many people being great at it! Just know that there is an option to choose the same as your full-time commitment, giving you more time and mindspace to invest. 🙂
These are just my personal experiences, and in no way decisive statements. As a 20-something, I did not really make a very well-informed decision. It was more or almost fully from the heart. I do understand and agree that it takes more to take that decision much later in life, being prepared for all our commitments.
What kind of roles can we look at?
PR & Communications
Research and Resource Development
Monitoring and Evaluation
and many more.
Errr … money matters?
Ofcourse! There are now some experienced people who have done it personally, and can help you. Do consider:
Your current commitments – EMIs, insurance etc….
Savings and major future commitments – Children’s education etc..
Investments to sustain your current/ closer to current lifestyle
I truly wished there were more people we could talk to, experiences that we could read, to brainstorm and deep dive to find answers to the What, Why and the How too! Hence an attempt at this post. 🙂
“I know, and know for sure, that great things are done only by great sacrifices. I know for certain that India requires the sacrifice of her highest and best, and I sincerely hope that it will be your good fortune to be one of them.” – Swami Vivekananda