drifting along professional currents

In 1997 when I was to take engineering, I was pretty sure I wanted to get into information technology. It had started with my interest in video games, but eventually I wanted to really do something about the digital divide, I wanted to empower the remotest people with instant information from around the world relevant to their specific problem. I believed that things that some particular group of people are struggling with, are things which someone else in the world had solved and gotten over with, and had gone on to other things, and the first group of people just needed to get in touch with the approach done by the second group and get over their problem as well. More than anything else, I felt frustrated with people hung up over inane trivial issues and wasting all their energy in doing things in a terribly outdated way, when there were better, far more efficient ways, to do the same thing, and when they could move on to something else. I wanted to improve the quality of life esp of people in rural areas. Looking back, this is a pretty noble ambition.

But then I got into a job through campus recruitment. My job was pretty interesting – I did what I loved to do which was programming and learning about different kinds of technology. And I also got to travel a lot, which was a really wonderful experience.

But, perhaps a noble ambition is the worst enemy of a fellow who dosen’t have the consistent drive to work towards it. It simply makes his life miserable! So in a way, my professional life, though has been really enjoyable, this small aspect of it has been miserable, because I’ve strayed quite far away from my original idea. (I had cried when I’d watched Sharukh Khan’s Swadesh (in that scene of that guy living with his family in the impoverished region) – it was a movie I could quite strongly relate to).

The problem is we have this idealistic image of myself, of being a fellow who wants to do all those things. Sooner or later eventually come to realise I don’t really do it – or take the trouble of doing everything needed to do it, or to sacrifice everything else that’s required to do just that. For example, there’s not much of international travelling working on a rural project (unless of course something path breaking happens to occur, but we’re talking about a common man here). Maybe its just nice to think of myself being that way. Not sure if this reflects lack of self-confidence, or whether it reflects uncertainty.

One thing is, I wanted to study further, specialize in something, I had taken it for granted I’d do this and almost everyone who knew me was pretty sure I’d do a masters. At that time I wanted to do something in networking. But then I got into a job through campus recruitment, and even then I kept fooling myself that I’d study sooner or later.

[But in a way I’m glad I’d been confused, because looking back using my current experience, I’m really sceptical about whether computer networking is the thing I would’ve really liked to study! Right now, if I study again, I’d like to get into something thats a combination of art, humanities, sociology, psychology, multimedia, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, user centered design/human computer interfaces.]

Like Paulo Coelho writes in some story, that a man gets into a boat and starts rowing towards one destination, but drifts around and goes to some other place!

So these grand ideas, of wanting to work towards something that would really make a tangible difference in the quality of life of people, and wanting to study further in order to do that, were a kind of black hole. It was a deadly whirlpool that I repeatedly got stuck in. It made me depressed whenever I got into thinking more on what I “should be doing”. It made me feel my job of being a software application developer, in spite of all the benefits, often feel dull and worthless! Apart from this, I was also finding my own nature more and more creative and spontaneous, and was finding that a rigid time table everyday with pre-defined things to do was becoming extremely claustrophobic.

Inspite of all this, I did manage to maintain a farily good professional reputation, due to technical strength and communication skills and intermittent spurts of hard dedicated work. But it kept fluctuating, and I was convinced that in my heart of hearts that on an average, my efforts were sort of mediocre and far less than what I could actually deliver.

Every now and then, I made renewed attempts to increase my productivity, but there was simply no way I could really commit myself consistently.

At some point in time, I finally happened to work with one manager Gajanan Londhe, who helped me see a different perspective of things after which my attitude finally did achieve a quantum leap in change. I was able to really acknowledge my own choices in my life, and then be more honest to myself by honoring them. My productivity and abilities did shoot up tremendously, and there was a huge appreciation from my international colleagues. Based on these experiences, wrote an article RwB published as Work is an opportunity. And other links like Happy Hour is 9 to 5, The Future of Work – by Theodore Zeldin, I hate my job! I hate my boss! which I’d read earlier at some points in time, I was able to truly appreciate better.

About my earlier idealistic dreams, I don’t know whether just letting them all go qualifies as ‘growing up’, or ‘giving up’  ❓ There are so many possibilities… but to date they only remain possibilities. After all this, call me dogged but I still can’t help feeling there’s a fairly good chance that I’ll do still manage to do something eventually later on along these lines! But its no longer going to be a blackhole for my energy. And anyway, I hope I manage to not impose any of all this stuff on my son!  :mrgreen:

One Response to “drifting along professional currents”

  1. preethi Says:

    I feel we all have a “calling ” for different things.Not everyone can write a thoughtful blog 😛 or renounce everything for settling in a rural area.According to our inner motivation we are best at what we are supposed to be best.
    Idealism is a illusion.But it should not be confused with following our own hearts.
    Sometimes a smile can be the biggest help you have ever done for the wrold.

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