There is this really relevant quote of Woody Allen where he wants to live his life starting from death and ending before birth. Seems to make a lot of sense. Sometime when I look back on my earlier self, I wish that I could have led a different life.
Maybe I would have taken the time to try out various things and identify what I wanted to do with my life, instead of studying most of the time. Instead of always escaping into the fantasy of books, maybe I could have explored different avenues to see if there was something creative in me. I would have told myself that my obsession with being the best was not healthy and my subsequent depression at failure was really silly and not catastrophic, as I thought at that time. I should have realized that this idol of perfection that I wanted myself to be was something that I couldn’t achieve at any cost.
Don’t you think my thoughts should have matured as I transitioned from student life to a professional life? Not at all – the compulsion to be the best only grew. I didn’t allow myself to choose my profession too. I just picked up whatever was offered and made myself like it. It was not masochism or anything – I genuinely loved each and every job that I held. All through my twenties and thirties, the only identity I allowed myself was my profession. No hobbies, no social interactions, nothing. I remember some horrendous outings with friends and family, when I had my ear stuck to the mobile phone all the time. I am really lucky to be around people, who forgave me very quickly.
It is so frustrating that in my forties that I still don’t know what I LIKE doing. I have made myself like what I have been doing but have no clue as what I really like. And that is such a sad state of affairs. So after a lot of analysis and over analysis, I basically identify one thing about myself. I am an ‘order freak’ – want things to be proper and correct – which basically made me good at sorting out issues (tech jargon alert – ‘troubleshooting’), putting things in order (‘laying down processes and procedures’) and ensuring that it stays that way (‘quality – 6sigma’). And that was why I liked any job. 🙂
So, am I content now that I have introspected so deeply? Not at all – I still feel guilty if I do terrible things like take an afternoon nap or read a novel in one sitting. I still have this urgent need to do things and ‘fill in the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run’ instead of sitting back and watching life. I wish there was a magical ingredient that me and about millions of others could take that would make us realize that hey ! we have achieved something in our lives. We are definitely worth something. If self-worth could be bottled and marketed, it would make for instant billionaires. Startup ideas – anyone?