One fine Monday morning, when slides were piling up to be created, and data waiting to be analyzed, I decided to shut down all windows and thought deeply about all the ways in which my life has changed and how this routine evolved ever since I started working full-time again after business school. I scrolled, down the “Moments” on my iPhone to see what exactly had I been up to that had taken over my life? What unfolded were 10 things that change when you start working full-time.
- You live from one weekend to the next and everything else happens in the middle ‒ Between getting back to the corporate world and barely hanging on to dear life as you work one case after another, the reality is that the week somehow slips you by… Your life’s calendar ticks from one weekend to the next. Laundry, shopping, vacuuming, appointments get moved to the next weekend… every single weekend. The one time you really breathe during the week is when you look up from in between slides to realize how lucky you are to have a desk facing the water front. Lately, you try to sneak in short walks along the wharf or steal coffee dates with your better consultant half in between meetings to fill in new life into the middle of the week.
- Home really becomes sweet home (especially when you live by the beach) ‒ Someone once asked me where my dream home would be. I said it would be on a mountain by the beach. Living the beach life in your twenties and witnessing brilliant sun-rises and sun-sets each day gives you tremendous perspective on what really matters to you in life. Waking up to the North Atlantic cool breeze each morning, the thrashing and calming waves, long walks along picking shells, and the absolute joy of knowing that your home is next to the beach is simply unparalleled and truly the stuff that ‘chill’ is made of.
- Shopping for groceries and cooking food from scratch is suddenly therapeutic ‒ As someone who learnt cooking out of necessity quite late in life, there is no greater joy than realizing that you are slowly crossing over to the realm of appreciating the art and science of cooking with fresh and real ingredients. Making sauces, bread, and masalas from scratch, and knowing that it is the one time during the day you create something magical with your own hands which treats all five senses with tender, love, and care is truly fulfilling. And it absolutely doesn’t hurt that your partner is a master chef and teaches you the intricacies of unique techniques, introduces you to new cuisines and names of ingredients you had never heard of in your life!
- “Happening” hobbies start happening ‒ Some of my most full-filling memories are of times when I ‘created’ during moments of boredom tapping into moments of immense inspiration. A song cover of a popular song, a piece of art which defies traditional ideas of art, building stage props for fashion shows in college…Every now and then getting my hands dirty with oil pastels, charcoal, crazy glue, mud, sand, shells, and magnets takes me back to endless artistic indulgences and feeds the hungry soul. If you look for it, inspiration is right outside the glass door, a random video on you tube, or a Pinterest post.
- The daily commute to work becomes your new ‘me’ time ‒ Most of us spend a considerable amount of time getting to and back from work.With ever increasing commute times, a lot of us feel like we spend half our lives on the road driving, standing in the subway, hoping on the ferry, or making connections at an airport. But once you are on the familiar path each day, the familiar sights, sounds and smells along the journey become stolen time for yourself. Some days turn into a blur of thoughts about work email, most others immersed in your favorite podcast, many more studying travelers around you, but the ones that really make the journey exciting are the ones where you close your eyes, heave a sigh, and smile… Knowing that you will be home soon.
- Nature trumps the Nightclub ‒ “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran. Humans often try to do things that make them feel alive and kicking. In my early twenties, for the most part, partying all night did just that! When people told me that you will get over it in your late twenties, I NEVER believed them. But now, when I pick going on a fabulous hike, practicing yoga, kayaking in the ocean, biking along the beach, driving by fall colors, skydiving, geeking out over the cosmos with Neil DE grass Tyson, I notice that it brings me one step closer to feeling more alive. The more you get out and experience all that nature has to offer, the more you crave it. There is a reason why every other person I know these days is training for a marathon or learning a sport they never played in their life. Deeply connecting with what is around us helps learn about what really lies within us.
- Staying in some nights makes the nights you do go out more special ‒ There was a time (not too long ago) that I couldn’t get enough of dressing up and getting out on the town. Now, I spend most nights in, I wonder what changed. But the constant pressure and FOMO on all the restaurants I am not eating at, all the places I am not checking into, and all the coffee shops I am not having coffee at, has surely reduced over time. For me, home has become the new hip place to hang out at. Cooking in, movie nights, ‘hanging out’ with friends around the world, and cozying in with library books honestly make the few nights you do actually go out way more special. And why would you ever want to miss out on the brilliant moon-rises out on the deck?
- You learn to appreciate local sporting teams and new cultural experiences ‒ Never having heard of, leave alone fanatically rooting for the Red Soxs, New England Patriots, Celtics or the Bruins , it was interesting to see that emotions that are evoked as an Indian during the final over of a close India/Pakistan cricket match are universal in nature. Watching baseball, basketball, and ice hockey matches in swanky box seats, attending classical Mozart concerts and fancy champagne nights out at museums all thanks to working at a firm that makes these experiences seem like business as usual is absolutely welcome while it lasts!
- You need to constantly think about your work authorization status ‒ If you are on a legal immigrant work visa in the United States, you know exactly what I am taking about! It was only when my lawyers and I realized that my student OPT visa was expiring and that I need to get my H1B visa stamped within a week is when I realized the importance of always keeping track of you visa status. Filling out grueling visa forms, requesting for an expedited visa interview with the US consulate officer, getting the interview request denied, paying for the visa fee twice to get another interview slot, changing the slot at three different consulates in India to get the earliest slot, buying last minute air tickets to India, booking multiple trips between Mumbai and Hyderabad, one visa interview, one H1B stamping, and loads of family love later is when I could safely re-enter this country. Long story short ‘Never ever forget to check your visa status!’ The only silver lining – getting to celebrate your mum’s birthday unexpectedly and getting much needed family and Oscar time.
- You cherish the few stolen moments with your family and best friends ‒ This is by far the most difficult change to accept. Wanting to follow ever-liberating career dreams with ever-increasing global opportunities, I cannot express in words how hard it is to know that all the moments you experience are tagged with a sinking feeling of ‘how much mom would have liked this flower shop’, ‘how much more incredible this concert would have been with our friends’, or ‘how crazy Oscar would have gone running around in circles in this open meadow.’ Every such moment spent longing for the people you truly enjoy life with is only barely made up for by the surprise trips you make happen or hours of face time chat sessions over the weekends with them. Just only.
When I look back at the past 10 months, each day seems like a potpourri of events both significant and mundane. But one thing is for sure…with each passing day, life seems to get busier and taking time to do things you truly enjoy doing gets harder. But moments of contemplation such as this help slow time down just a tad bit, taking stock of all the ways life has changed you in, and forcing you to evolve with changes ever so much.
Here is to writing more in the future and a lot fewer re-runs of ‘friends on Netflix’!