‘I feel like everyone, no matter who they are and what they do, each of our lives holds a success story whether we may realise it or not.’ says Shweta Shanker. The setup, circumstances and situations that we all live in, are very different, and to an extent, beyond our imagination. So a wholesome success story is one of its own, that’s not tarnished by the tinted glasses of comparison or judgement. Driven by this thought, Shweta shares her ‘success story.
I had always been a very ambitious girl since childhood and had imagined myself to the peaks of my career. I was bound to the benchmarks set by the society and people around me. I started my career with much drive and enthusiasm but soon after marriage, the sudden flow of responsibilities left me with not many options but to give up my flourishing career for the sake of the safety and well-being of my children. In my mind, this was not a tick mark in the box towards my success plan as per my programmed understanding and so I started regretting this fact, especially, when I saw some of the other women with children doing fairly well with their careers and being particularly accoladed for the fine balance they were able to bring about.
True as that was, it left me wondering if I was doing it the ‘right way?
I took my first career break when I had to change location and move to a new city after getting married. My husband’s job required to travel around the world and so that’s what we did for more than a year before he switched to something more stable. Finding a job for myself after this time gap seemed difficult but not so tough after all.
Eventually, I found something and in a year’s time, I was able to bridge the break. Now, I had a host of companies offering me jobs and it felt great to be in the mainstream. This is when I had my first baby, so I took a maternity break while promising myself to be able to join back after a couple of months in order to not hamper my career growth. With an infant in my arms and no family help available, I eventually decided to take a career break again.
Later, my two-year-old daughter’s eloquence and confidence gave me the confidence to get back to work sooner than I had expected and this time the challenge of getting back seemed big and tough and so it was. Post being rejected in interviews for not being hands-on anymore with the current technology, I quickly decided to take whatever worthwhile that came my way. So I took up a job that was alien to my educational background as a software developer.
My workplace this time was a renowned business school and was very close to my residence which allowed me some time each day to come and pick my daughter from the school bus stop and feed her lunch whenever possible and then rush back to my work. This, I was able to manage for three years until it was time for my second baby.
From my personal experience, I feel that baby boys are a tad bit more demanding of their mom’s company and attention. It took me a good five years before I thought I could start back on work. My resume which was full of breaks and diverse work fields surely landed the interviewers into confusion about my worth and left me even more confused about my next move on the career track.
I took a couple of courses that people promised could be of great asset to bag me a good job. I too thought it to be a good time to take up new learnings and start afresh this time with no more career breaks! Finally, to some extent because of the courses that I took and mainly through some of my previous work acquaintances, I got through to a job, and this time again very different from anything that I had done previously or even to the courses that I took recently.
‘Different’ seemed to be the theme playing in my life so I readily accepted. I started my job happy with the confidence that this time I can take it to wherever I want when after 2 years I realized that we had to move out of the country for my husband’s new job.
Although I was super excited about moving to Switzerland, you can only imagine my state upon the realization that my plans of going full strike this time, suddenly held no ground. Here I was in an alien country trying to find my feet. This time the challenges were dire with language, country, and culture, all being alien to me.
While I was still in the job hunt mode, one summer I decided to do something about my idle time and I started catering food to a few people up to my capacity. Frankly, that was the last thing I had ever imagined myself doing but then I realized a good amount of pocket money and lots of appreciation gave me a fair amount of happiness!
And that’s where I am now and when I look back to think about my career breaks as obstructions to my growth and feel bad about it, I realize what I failed to see. I failed to see how much they have challenged me each time and how fair and square I have addressed them each time. Each time to set myself up and say to life – ‘I am ready for whatever you give me!’
This clarity has made me feel proud and also thankful as I also see the passive learnings that these experiences have brought about for me although mostly unknowingly. Now I have started to look at my career path as a successful one where I have been able to take breaks for my family priorities or taken on work whenever I thought it was appropriate.
Over time, I have realized that the ‘right way’ is really what’s right for you at that point in time and there’s not much gain trying to force and find logic with circumstances the way they are, as the logic will reveal itself as and when you want to see it. This moment in life where I am now, I feel that the Almighty has been super kind to me and I am super thankful for how things have unfolded for me all this while to bring about this beautiful story of success and valuable learnings that I failed to understand earlier.
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