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Updated: July 14, 2013 15:47 IST

Choosing wisely

SHVETHA JAISHANKAR
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Shvetha Jaishankar
Special Arrangement Shvetha Jaishankar

Bartoli lifted the Wimbledon last weekend, she said that winning it had been her dream since she was six. In the case of many sportspeople like her, destiny is carved not by them but by a parent who makes an early choice for them. If things work out, a fairy tale like Bartoli’s happens. If not, that awful feeling called regret can creep in and stay for a long time. Life is just too short for that.

Therefore, one of the most important considerations in the life of a modern woman is what she should do with her life. I don’t just mean making a career choice because many women don’t or are unable to follow one, but rather how she chooses to commit her time.

For many, the first such decision happens at 16, when we choose a branch of study in school. This seemingly casual decision can dominate a good part of our lives. And, if at the end, one doesn’t like the profession the study has led to, too much has been invested to think of changing.

Does one truly know at 16 what you would like to be doing 10 years later? By that time, shaped by your experiences, you could have become a very different person.

Today’s woman has dazzling choices and many responsibilities. First, to decide if she wants a career at all. For many, a marriage and family is what they want most. If she is financially secure, I would tell her to not be pressured by society or peers into “doing something useful”. Raising a family is as useful as it gets, and if it makes her happy then the choice is hers.

Many women work because they have to support the household. Often, the work involves long hours that take away energy meant for her and the family. Having a realistic sense of what one can do and what one should give up is important. Else, something in the equation can give.

As for the women who work because they want to achieve something for themselves, if they enjoy what they are doing then they have hit the jackpot. There is nothing like the feeling of independence and stability that a good career can give. However, if they are not happy, they needn’t stick to it, afraid of what others will say if they quit the race. A simple way to do this is to experiment for a bit, safe in the knowledge that one can go back if things don’t work out. But to not try at all would be sad.

Acceptance from others is not as important as acceptance from within. It is really important to do something that you wake up looking forward to. Whether you are motivated by money, freedom, or just the need to overcome ennui is immaterial.

Yoga teachers, counsellors, photographers, bio-technologists, social media marketers, sound engineers — none of these are exotic or badly paid any more. If you don’t want a career, then find a passion to pursue. Write down your options, speak to people in the field, and embrace your choice! You may be surprised by the support and admiration you will get.

I would like to end by thanking all the readers who wrote in last time. I enjoyed reading your mail.

Shvetha Jaishankar was once a top-notch model; has an MBA from ISB, Hyderabad; and is traveller, entrepreneur, experimenter, and connoisseur of the fine things in life. Mail her at shvethaj@gmail.com

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