50 Cent made the autobiographical Get Rich of Die Tryin’ based on his rather troubled life (try getting shot nine times and survive to make a movie on it). Fortunately for a commoner, life is usually devoid of such extremities. We aspire and strive for what most want us to be and at times (very sporadically though) fantasize what we could have been. In this crude capitalist world of ours, we are constantly faced with questions that often end with answers that necessarily aren’t what we signed up for.
Take career for example… for a man who wasn’t born an Arab Sheikh or a Mogul Emperor, making something out of thyself has been a top priority ever since I developed a sense of life. As opposed to some who can just snore thinking life happens to you while you are busy making other plans, the question I’ve faced all my life is what? by when? instead of a more vague and casual let’s see. The core philosophy during the schooling years it was study hard which progressed to be study hard, party harder in college and finally before reaching its current state of work hard, play hard. Although I slacked quite a bit during the study years, it was largely amended by the time I started to work. As a career choice, advertising seemed more of the underground genre than to the chart busting pop hits like Banking, Law, Marketing or even Teaching. But I was from a different school of thought, the one that played around ‘its not where you start, but where you get at the end”. And man have I enjoyed my last few years at work… being an adman.
But just as life isn’t a bed of roses so wasn’t bringing ideas to life. Unlike some of its more esteemed industry colleagues, Advertising as a service made far less money than a law or an accounting or even a management consulting firm did. It gets clearer once you realize that all major law, accounting or consulting firms are partnerships (i.e. McKinsey, PwC) while advertising agencies are mostly owned by holding companies (i.e. WPP). I knew what I had signed up for… and tried extra hard to make up the 0’s that were missing. The incredibly flexible workspace, the always entertaining colleagues, the eccentric artists and the glamour of being an adman was simply too good to be true. While my friends were busy selling loans, developing annual sales plans or preparing duty rosters; I spent twice their time at work putting great ideas to good use. The supposed great ideas were not always great and involved a lot of smoke and holy water. I had almost forgotten the reason why we all work… the pay!!!
“Who needs money when life was already great, honey?” was perhaps the question that buzzed my head every time I was offered an opportunity to switch industry. Yet as I readied myself for the next big move in my life… all that’s great seemed to be puny. The holy matrimony beckoned the colorful me and handed over a reality check on what life is all about. All of a sudden it was stability of the job and salary package instead of joy of work that mattered. How much? had overshadowed how happy?. And to top it all, bank statement had a greater influence than the amazing score in happiness index.
Men, in not so chauvinistic manner were just expected to be in the money-making jobs. Be it a banker with no life or a lawyer with no ethics; you are just to make money… everyday in every possible way. There lied no alternate to this ‘common belief’ even after having strong-opinionated and successful working women around. I had to work for I had to provide for a family and not for any of the utopian self-actualization or greater self-esteem. Lost and confused, I tried to looking for a way out resorting to my fun-filled gang at work; and sadly I realized… if they could, even they would (move on). It was the bite in the back I was least prepared for, the choice I thought I would never have to make, the life I frowned upon!!! The path ahead was precise and concise, marriage is for the one with money…