Life Beyond a Rat Race

I have written this article for VoiCE blog. You can find the original article here.

Ever wondered why you are one of those people who are caught in the race? You are an engineer. You did your graduation in Computer Science/ Civil/ Electrical/ Whatever from one of the many ‘very good’ colleges in the country. You completed your graduation copying journals from your seniors and projects from Google. You always dreamt of big things and yet appeared for the campus interviews. Probably you were the lucky one to get selected early or you were the one who scraped through. You joined an IT major and was one of the 25000 candidates selected that year to do an outsourced job. And then? You joined the rat race to appraisals, on-site opportunities, promotions and buying a flat… did you? Does it hurt to be in the rat race?

I’m a Civil Engineer. But I never built any thing more than a retaining wall 8 years ago. I’m also an MBA. But none of my job profiles offered me to ‘manage’ and ‘grow’ some thing until lately when I took the reigns in my hand. And now I have sat down to write an article for VoiCE, wondering what I did in last 6 years. Was it some thing I always wanted to do? Sadly, the answer is no. I was originally destined to be an Architect. Civil Engineering just happened to me. Peer pressure led me to MBA. When I was still a student of Pune University, I wanted to open a restaurant and had even made a business plan for it. But it didn’t materialize. It took long years for me to reality what I enjoyed the most. And I’m still not on it completely.

The life beyond the so called rat race only begins when we take a small but meaningful journey within us. It is important for us to know what exactly we want to do. For example, I enjoyed writing. I still dream of being a photo journalist. I want to travel around the world, capture different people, different locales, take pictures and write interesting stories about interesting people. I enjoy doing that. But no body made me realize it when I was still in my teens. I was learning structures and bridges when I should have been taking their pictures and writing stories of their makers. I might be earning well today. But some times on a rainy morning, like the ones these days, I don’t get motivated to go back to the same work.

The problem can be any where but within self. In the education system, in our parents, siblings, peers or any one who provokes us to join the rat race. A teen vies for the place in a coveted engineering college because he is told by his parents and relatives in the US that Engineering is the best degree to have. It will earn him a high paying job of a software coder. The guy is not given a chance to think out of his path and imagine a world he probably would have loved to be in. Once in the college, his only motto is to ‘pass’ the exams and grab one of the coveted job opportunities. Some engineers who have no idea of what to do next normally bow to peer pressure and go for a completely unrelated course, a management degree. They all start earning well and then leaving a high paying job to follow one’s dream becomes too much of a risk.

Every one imagines a life beyond a rat race. But hardly any one dares to try and live it. All we need to do it first know what we want and then take steps to do it. Money is secondary. If Edison invented electric bulb because he wanted to earn, he’d have never invented an electric bulb. Do it if your heart says. Do some thing new, some thing better and do it if it is fun. If you are good at it, the money will follow.