Being the youngest in the family and only girl child meant one thing for me, pampering. Having two older brothers always put me in a protective zone, which comes with more restrictions. Growing up in a traditional catholic family in India, gives you an automatic comfort zone as your zone consists of family and a few friends.
When I left my hometown, I was at first unable to adjust to a strange and foreign environment, which can give anyone a lot of anxiety. It also makes you think you are less than, and incompetent, because without someone around to take care of things, you are faced with new challenges.
Despite the challenges, this was a golden time for me, and most aspiring women in a small hometown, because I was going off to uni. I studied an engineering course and met new friends from different backgrounds. I travelled, stayed in hostels and enjoyed the kind of freedom that you can only enjoy being away from family.
I had a lot of realisations too at this point, as an individual I felt capable of the more wonderful things in life than I ever thought as a protected sister at home. I am lucky to have a good supportive family as they were a strong platform for solid take off. By the end of my uni days, I appreciated this more and learned a lot about the importance of education, friends and travel.
After uni, I was lucky to get recruited through campus placement, because there are many companies in India recruiting fresh graduates from reputable universities. The work was good, all you need to be is prepared and ready for the things to come.
Then I got married and together we decided to move to Australia. It was exciting, a different continent, landscape, new people and multicultural.
It was wonderful until I started looking for a new job in Melbourne. Not many companies were recruiting at the time I started looking for a job. My applications are not getting a response and I couldn’t understand why my interviews weren’t getting positive response. Am I not qualified? Am I not smart enough? Why things are not working out? You lose confidence, frustration builds up and then it’s a chain reaction.
The great learnings come from the worst times in your life. Though you have every reason and resource to have a good life – it can still go south. This is because there are factors out of your control, within the world around you. There are several aspects, which you can in no way influence in your favour and situations where it feels like there is nothing you can do.
These are the time, you may feel like giving up. But you must never give up, that is the key that is the learning. Always believe nothing can limit the aspirations of a woman.
Being a professional, wife and a mother means you are on duty 24/7. This doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy your life and follow your dreams. It means you must focus on your priorities, don’t make promises you can’t keep and finish tasks in your own time. Working families try really hard to find the perfect work-life balance. In my experience, the "balance" constantly needs to change. I know that I am lucky that I enjoy being at work and at home with my family.
As the novelist Paulo Coelho says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Be prepared, learn always, love your family and friends, travel and never, ever give up.
Read more in the series from Judy, Marielle, Mel and Leila.