The things we do for the corner office (and why)

The internet is flooded with articles urging you to stop glorifying the 9 to 5, to pack up your bags and set out on that adventure you set aside for ‘one day’, to ditch the monday blues and live a little.

It sounds poetic but decisions are not born of a whim. The corporate world teaches you some inexplicable things about your life. You don’t own it and you certainly cannot live it on your own terms. You will barely make it for your cousin’s wedding, miss a few, seldom have the entire weekend to yourself, skip being home for important festivals and it basically goes downhill from then on. But really, how did this culture really become so engraved in society that it became acceptable? Are we really given a choice?

I recently met someone who had a 4 year old son and I asked her if he had started going to school already. She told me how she wasn’t in a rush and once she put her 4 year old in a school, his life would practically be over. I was a little taken aback at first by her statement but then I had time to think about it. That child was going to be bound by routine, pressured for grades, would probably take a loan for college, get a job where he couldn’t complain so he could pay off his debt, get married, have more responsibilities, get a better job for a better pay to meet those responsibilities, save more for a rainy day, hospitals, children’s education and he would probably want to do something for his parents too.

It just doesn’t end. In fact, it feels easier just accepting the truth of life and work without complaining. How then, do these almost comical statements, “live the life you love” “do everything you love” fit in? Was it the brave ones who quit the 9 to 5 without a financial backing (lets be honest, money is a necessity) or was it the lucky ones who never had to experience it or could just leave it because they didn’t need the money?

I do think it is time for restructuring. While competition in the market may be good, I don’t know if it is healthy for life. Is it ok to be SO short on time, you forget to look up from your desk and watch the sunset, to actually achieve enough that you get your sea facing corner office but never enjoy it? Is it ok, to always want more, to “strive to be better”? What do you want your eulogy to read?

X : 19xx to 20xx – Fondly remembered because he was better than Y at Z”

The only thing you should want to be better than, is the person you were yesterday. If you want to spend 5 hours with your new born and you are unable to, that is what you need to be better at- being a parent. If your parents are old and ailing and all you can do is send them money, you need to be a better son. These are the things you need to be better at.

I am not saying everyone needs to quit their jobs. But I do feel everyone needs to re-prioritise and understand the importance of time. Of how fleeting it is and how little of it we have. And once we understand that, and be truthful in every interview we take about what truly drives us, perhaps, to be better providers for our families rather than whatever dishonest answer we have always been giving, fanning the ego of our interviewers, we would be a generation better equipped to design a more sustainable future for the generations to come.

It takes all kinds to make the world. Maybe you are built to be a corporate shark, then you must be that but do what makes you happy.

There are a lucky few who realise what their life’s purpose is. Those, that find their calling. I hope all of you do. And once you find the way of life you love, I hope you also find the courage to live it.



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For the love of Tragedy.

While I personally hold Shakespeare responsible for popularising tragedy, the glorification of it is deeply entrenched in all of us and is literally passed on generation after generation. I cannot say whether our love for tragedy was intended to be so, whether it was innate or acquired- but I can with some confidence say, we secretly imagine it and in its longing,  we eventually manifest it.

The number of times we watch a tragic love story or the number of hauntingly depressing songs that are made famous hardly put up a strong case for tragedy not being something we love and almost desire. Surely, we want to be happy but it seems we understand too well, that the joy that happiness brings is tasteless without a present that is depressingly dark.

How comforting is the sound of the saddest song you know as it opens up a crack so deep in your soul that you can almost rip your heart out as if you were subjected to the excruciating pain the singer is singing about. The problem is not with the hopelessly romantic, it is with the hopefuls.

The truth is, most of our pain is imagined and only a fraction of it actually suffered. We actually go through each emotion in our head while we listen to say Whiskey Lullaby or Fix You, lyrically imagine what is quite unpoetic, replay it and sure enough, we have manifested what we most think about: Tragedy.

We wanted it. We wanted to feel the truth of those words and so, like I said, in our longing, we make it happen. How fruitful it would be spending that much energy imagining all the wonderful things we hope to achieve in our lives.

This is why the life span of a self help book is basically infinite. There is always somebody breaking into the phase where they are quite done with finding comfort in tragedy and seek help. In the beginning, reading a self help book gives us innumerable revelations but when you reach your 4th or 5th, you think you are reading what you already know. Like preaching to the converted.

But even getting to the ‘seek help from a self help book’ phase has a pre destined time. If you are exposed to say, The Power of Now, prior to actually reaching this phase, you are going to hate it. Because you don’t want to believe in the now that is, you want the now that you imagined.

So wait for it, wait for the sorrow to become unbearable. It will. Then stand unashamed in front of the self help book section. You will soon find the courage to move to tragic but hopeful fiction. 🙂

But more on that later.




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When in Grief.

When grief comes knocking, life is unfamiliar territory and struggle is the order of the day.

To every person their struggle is unsurmountable at least once at some point during which it persists. No one can make you believe it will be ok. No one can make you understand that it could be worse. When you’re worn out and broken you believe that it is what it is and that is where you will always remain.

Words come to those who feel. And you feel yourself breaking you feel it harder than you think you will ever feel anything else. We suddenly have so much to say. Where was all of this hiding? There is a battle between your feelings and your reality and the sound of your knees hitting the floor as you surrender, is louder than anything else you’ll hear.

Your thoughts are deeper, your words are wounded and you basically believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how many self help books you read, how many groups you join, you will only want enough time for yourself where you can be left alone to dwell in the comfort of our pain.

You only relate to everything that glorifies grief, heartbreak and everything that fortifies the belief that you feeling this way, is permanent. Truth is, you have to go through it all to come out on the other side of grief which will end, but you don’t believe it yet.

Nothing anyone says is going to be more powerful than the story you tell yourself. The excuses you make, for your current state or the excuses you make for others, because of whom you are where you are.

The reality of it all really is you are the beginning and the end of it all. You can dwell in a moment as long as you want to and just like that snap out of it too. But all these realisations will only come when the time is right. And the time is right only when the situation has taught you what you needed to learn.

Your decision to be alright is going to be as successful as your new year resolution. It will take a single memory to collapse you into the nothingness you became so comfortable in. Even when you feel you are ok, there will be times you will find yourself suffering, wanting.

It is a rough road, but there is an end and when you reach it, it will be unfamiliar territory.  The newness of your thoughts will surprise you and you will feel brand new. Till then, remember, you must enjoy what there is to enjoy and suffer, what there is to suffer. Nothing will come to you a minute sooner than it is destined to come to you.

Maktub. (It is written)




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