Boats on the water, not steps on the ladder

The greatest tragedy of my life is that my parents and my nearest and dearest family don’t understand what do I do in life, who am I. Since they don’t know, from there it follows, they are not proud of me, not particularly ashamed but not proud to the extent that when it comes to answering the question, “What does your daughter do?” they stutter and fumble with words, not sure of what to say as if I don’t do anything worth mentioning, only to finally say “she did her LLb”.

“Oh that’s great, so which court does she practices in?” The other person immediately asks.

My parents then fumble some more and say, “No she used to go to court, but then she doesn’t, then she was in this company called ‘Jones Lang LaSallethen she quit that, she is doing some consultancy now.”

“Ah legal consultancy then, good good.”

“Err, well, not legal, something media.” My parents would reluctantly reply as if it would have been so much more respectable and worth the mention if it was legal consultancy.

My parents are middle class people from the 1950s. They still live in that age when the only few things worth being in life were doctor, engineer, barrister, IAS officer or if not anything at least a gazetted officer in Central Government. Granted that modern times have given them one more worthy profession, software engineer.

BUT WHAT THE FUCK IS A ‘SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANT.’

Mostly, I don’t care but sometimes it hurts. For example today when the above conversation happened between my dad and a friend of his. I got pissed immediately. First, why are you telling him about my Jones Lang LaSalle experience when I have quit that over a year ago and have done so many things since then. I joined Breakthrough, did wonderful things there, I quit Breakthrough. I set up Samyukta Media, ‘Social Media Baithak,’ I got featured on mainstream media, TED Fellows blog, I am giving a social media consultancy to ‘Point of View’ I am going in as a panellist at a JSTOR workshop – and all you can remember or talk about is that I used to go to court, and that I worked in JLL.

Why? Because my parents assume that other similarly placed middle class people would not understand any of the other things I just mentioned, they will only understand known things like advocate, court practice, law firm. I say, that doesn’t matter, you don’t have to make it convenient for the other person to understand, just tell them ‘social media consultant, if they cannot understand they will ask around, or they will ask me and I shall explain.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) was a BIG name for dad, he was very proud of my association with that name, no one in my family has ever worked for such a big multi national corporate entity, every morning when he used to see that some or the other senior JLL staff got quoted in the most important story under the real estate section he used to be proud that his daughter works for that company. But not anymore, now I do things that don’t get highlighted on mainstream media, social media is something no body have heard of.

When I yelled what is the need of telling I am a lawyer at all, forget it, forget JLL, just remember social media. He said, “Oh I didn’t know that, I thought when you have someone respectable like doctor, lawyer at home you say that to people, I didn’t know I am not supposed to say that.”

This is slightly sad, I couldn’t be a lawyer but parents being parents still want to hold on to it because that they think it was respectable. Everything else is just something ‘random’.

I have left the lawyer in me far behind, I am not even proud of her. My law degree gave me a sense of logic, reason, rights and duties but it never excited me as a person to do something great. True, I went to the courts for a while did some research some litigation but that didn’t make me creative, didn’t motivate me to do something different, something unique to me, it didn’t make me who I am. Social media did, my writings on the blog did. It may sound ridiculous but blogging changed my life, not my law degree or any other things I did prior to 2005.

I do feel bad that I couldn’t stick to being a lawyer or that I didn’t for once seriously study and appear for the Judicial Service Exams. My parents kept saying that becoming a judicial Magistrate is the greatest thing that could happen to anybody with a Law degree, which might be true, I don’t deny. And I wish I had the inclination to go for it but I didn’t.

I realize it hurts them because whatever I do today makes me happy, not my parents. I am selfish. Although they say their happiness is in my happiness which is why they have never restricted my freedom, never imposed any of their ideas on me. No matter how many strange things I do in my career they never actually express their disregard or disappointment towards me, but deep inside may be they would have been more happy with a more traditional law practice.

My career, if at all there is one, is really made of boats on the water, not steps on the ladder. Most people choose a steep road and keep walking on it climbing the stepping stones. I chose water and I keep jumping from one boat to another and none of them go anywhere. It is not my parents fault that they don’t get it. Really, I shouldn’t expect them to understand.

I even feel sorry I wrote this post.

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I previously wrote about my troubles with being a lawyer here ‘Another Wall

One thought on “Boats on the water, not steps on the ladder

  1. Reminds of an interview of a famous fashion designer that I heard many years ago. They used to be popularly known as “Dress walas” or “darzi” because no one understood what is fashion designing. Social media as correctly known as the New Media will take a lot of time for people of our parents generation to be understood. Its like one of those “ideas” that a s/w engineers can fix any PC problem. I hope you understand what I am trying to say, Give them time, its not easy for them to understand this NEW MEDIA let alone understand the fact that someone can have a career in that field. :-)

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