During my college years and especially during my post graduation days, I nurtured a fond dream. It was called “When I start earning my own money”. It involved vivid and vibrant schemes for self-indulgence and self-improvement. I dreamed of a high-powered lifestyle where I played squash in the mornings and went swimming in the evenings. I also learned a foreign language, joined a photography class with my new digital SLR and learned to play the guitar and/or piano. These dreams were founded on a single glorious truth – I would be earning enough money to indulge myself.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I couldn’t pursue all these activities as a student. I just didn’t want my parents to pick up the tab for my essentially whimsical dreams. I wanted the liberty of doing something because it pleased me and giving it up when it didn’t. I also felt it would be a lot more fulfilling to pick up a new skill on my own steam.
But alas! Maybe I was naïve, maybe plain clueless, but I never realized the demands my job would make on my time. On an average I spend around 11 hours at work, 5 days a week. Most times I work on Saturdays too even though “technically” it’s a holiday in my organization. It’s the same story with friends who work in other private sector firms. The mantra for success is ‘perform or perish’. Work or my office now forms an overwhelming part of my life and occupies an uncomfortably large part of my thoughts. On weekdays, when I return home, I am too exhausted to even contemplate a hobby. On the weekends, I de-stress by doing nothing more taxing than chatting with family, watching movies, eating out or shopping.
I still dream of joining up for some non-work related activity but I never seem to have the time to find out the details and in case I do, I find the hours incompatible with my work life. I have to admit, I have also lost a bit of ‘ye olde enthusiasm’. I could probably squeeze in some class on a Sunday but after all the time I put in at work, whatever little I get to myself is sacrosanct – meant only for some good ole R&R (rest and relaxation people, not rock and roll). “Me” time is strictly rationed.
So after five years of being a salaried professional, I am yet to bring down the house by strumming a Spanish guitar or spout melodic French to awed listeners. It is only now that I feel most keenly just how much free time I used to have as a student. How much freedom I had (and to think I used to chafe at parental restrictions!). Such little responsibility. Sigh!
The irony has not escaped me – When you have time, you don’t have money and when you have money you don’t have time.
But I don’t give up easily. And our dreams however small or big, are our spurs. Someday I will be a sporty, French speaking, guitar playing, expert photographer...someday. And did I mention Bhartanatyam dancing?