When I look back at my years as a teenager or even a young adult, I feel that there has been a long phase in my life when I felt lost. There was no sense of direction in terms of my career goals. I succumbed to pressure and let others choose for me.
This is what happened after I passed my 10th Grade.
Though I was pretty sure about pursuing the study of humanities, I was advised to choose commerce. I was told a student of humanities has ‘no future’. Phrases such as ‘keep all your options open’ – for whatever that means were repeated by family members, parents and peers.
I was someone who though extremely confident of my strengths couldn’t withstand the objections others made about my choice because I got scared. I wasn’t ready to face failure and was under fear of being judged for my choices.
For the next 15 years of my life, I took decisions which were safe choices. After I finished my post-graduation, I was at a juncture wherein accountancy didn’t interest me at all. I was at a crossroads and didn’t know which route to take.
This situation had also made me realise that when one feels incapable to make choices for their life others take it upon themselves to make decisions for you. Life took its course I started depending on others to help me make decisions for my life and I ended up qualifying as a post-grad teacher. I started teaching accountancy- a subject I never enjoyed. But I worked hard, and become very popular amongst students as a teacher who was gentle and understood them.
I did enjoy teaching but because studying commerce was never my choice, I wasn’t confident about teaching accountancy. When I got pregnant, I decided to take a sabbatical. If I am being completely honest, it would not have been my choice if I was confident in the career I was pursuing.
It was only in my 30s when I wanted to set the right example for my daughter, I took matters into my hand and started making independent choices about my career. Blogging was a lifesaver. I got an opportunity to be vulnerable, and surprisingly it didn’t matter to me if anyone judged me for my choice or for that matter I was ready to fail. For the first time, I was confident about what I was doing. I know it would mean a lot to my husband to have some financial support through me contributing to the family income but encouraged me to follow my dreams.
Though blogging gave me some financial independence and a sense of purpose, I always missed my interactions with my students. But I didn’t want to go back to teaching so I started my research on careers which were best suited for me.
On introspection, I realised that as a teacher I enjoyed having career discussions with my students. When their parents would come to me with complaints about them being unsure of their careers, I tried to be the bridge between them. As a high school student, I never got that from my teachers. That’s when I decided to start my independent practice as a career counsellor. And let me tell you this is the best choice I ever made in my life.
In these last two years as a career counsellor, I have interacted with around 100 students and it has been just what I needed. When these students tell me after our discussions, that they found clarity and know the next step forward, it gives me contentment which is beyond any monetary benefit.
Here I have to tell you all about this one incident. I was discussing finances with my father after turning into an entrepreneur and told him that in a year I will break even and that is so exciting. Though he appreciated my vision; he gave me valuable advice. He told me not to worry about money, it’s just a by-product. I should just focus on being present for my students, do extensive research to help them better, read and analyse every career and stay updated with the latest in the education sector. Making this choice of being a counsellor over an entrepreneur, is so much more satisfying. Maybe I will not be known as a top counsellor or a successful one in the industry but will surely be one for my students.
The testimonials of my students and parents matter to me more than the bank balance. Today I am super happy that I made the right choice and that I am not part of any race. For the first time, I have made a choice to compete with my own self. I have made a choice to be a better counsellor each day.
But most importantly, I am enabling students to make choices on their own. I am here to support them if they think they made a wrong one, to empower them to get up when they fall and not be afraid of making their own choices.