Incident 1 (I’m in college, 1st year):
The head of the dept. walks into our class, and throws us a question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”. Honestly, I took that question a bit seriously, and that was the first time I realized that I didn’t know what I should be in future. I didn’t start as a developer then. Didn’t even know I’m going to be what I am today. I was asked “What is your aim in life?” several times in my college days, I remember clearly that I answered differently every single time.
Incident 2 (1 year after I’ve started freelancing, 4th year of college):
Few of my co-workers were already in their 3rd-4th startup, and were talking about what they want to do next(start up again if that one fails) and I was thrown the question, “Bibhas, what are you going to do after college, and after couple of years?”. I couldn’t answer. I knew I will be working somewhere, developing something, but didn’t know on what role, doing what.
Incident 3 (I left the first job because I didn’t like it):
And I’m thinking what to do next. Then it strikes me, I still didn’t know what I want to be in life. I have ideas about how to build softwares, I want to keep doing it. But I also have a feeling that writing code takes a lot of time. It’d be nice if I had few colleagues writing codes. I was pretty sure this is going to be a deciding factor later in my life. But I still don’t see the sign.
Incident 4 (a week back):
I was talking to a colleague. He’s seen his share of startup lives. We were talking about few of my friends who don’t want to take risks working in startups and keep working at MNCs because those jobs are “safe”. Then he says, “They should realize, are they living a life which they can tell their kids about?”. I laughed in my head, thinking of a friend of mine telling his kid, “You know? I used to work at an MNC. I used to go to office every freaging day at 9am and return at 10pm. I had a wonderful life.” Don’t know about you, but that seemed effin hilarious to me. But then I thought they might not realize it and think that they are too young to start “taking risks”.
Incident 5 (Present day):
I come across this question in Quora: “What do you regret not doing in your 20s?
It has few answers from people of 30s, sharing their views. I’d like to quote some of them here.
The only thing I regret in my 20’s is not taking more risks. I took a ton of risks in my 20’s from what I studied in school to where I lived to who I wanted to be. In the end, I could have been more fearless and more courageous to be exactly who I wanted to be, no matter what. The only advice I can offer: Do not listen to anyone else when you make big life decisions. No one knows you like you. When you make a big decision, do not listen to your parents, your siblings, your friends, or anyone else. It sounds absurd, but when I look back on my 20’s the best decisions I made were ones I made myself that were protested by everyone around me. When you can stand truly on your own to make the correct choice while everyone around you is telling you that you’re wrong, you’re doing it right.
It’s not regret. But looking back, it seems my life would have been better if I had done / had known these earlier:
On love: Leave an unhappy relationship. It’s not about commitment. It’s about how to respect yourself.
On work: Quit an unhappy job. The feeling of being caged, deprived of the opportunity to learn new things simply because of your role - are not compensated by pay or even gratification of supporting your loved ones.
On emotion: Appreciate, listen to, even indulge in emotions sometimes. It keeps a human life. No worries, we’re rational enough. Our brain is amazing.
On body: Have happy (safe) sex more and earlier. Play fun sports more and earlier. Feeling a cramp in my leg once saved me from depression due to overthinking.
On money: More is not better. There’s a threshold over which you feel secured and free to pursue your dreams. Work constantly to lower this threshold. It frees you from constraints that you set for yourself.
On desire/passion: It’s OK that desire/passion changes over time. Someday the dots can be linked. Before that, follow the passion even as it takes leaps and seems without focus.
On fear: Never act/decide out of fear. You’re doomed. Lying is an example.
On people: Stay around those you want to become. If your network is not given, create it yourself.
On human life: You can change your life. Be kind, be honest (to others and to yourself), be grateful. Genuine happiness triumphs.
Not taking more risks: Your 20s aren’t like your 30s. You can afford to take more chances, try more things, take more risks to find out who you are and where you want to be.
Not taking more action: I thought that navel-gazing would lead me to answers to the existential angst which bugged me during my 20s. Wrong. Acting and trying new things is the way to answers.
Not sleeping around more: In your 30s, you and the people you meet are looking for long-term commitment. If I were 20 again I’d stop looking for ‘the one true love’ (what can I say, I was a romantic) and look for more people to connect with, heart as well as body. Pining around for someone who didn’t love me back on a off-on thing was a long waste of a few years.
Not taking care of my body more: In your 20s, you’re in that weird transition where your body is somewhat but not quite as fit as your teen years and going into the less-hardy 30s. The start of my beer belly wasn’t dramatic, and I figured it would go away like it always had in my teens. Wrong. Once you see yourself going in your 20s, workout like hell to get yourself back in health and shape.
Well, if not entirely similar, I know I’m going to have some views that are common with these above. And I still don’t know what I’ll be after 10 years. Right now I’ve bet everything I have on my instincts. I’ve moved to a new city. I’ve set up a decent place to stay even before getting the first salary. My bank balance is near zero. And my parents have already started pushing me about the deadline of my marriage!! BIG Sigh.
On the bright side, I have this lovely girl beside me who thinks the world of me. I have my parents beside me who, even when we’re running low on savings, are supporting me to do what I feel is right. I have an awesome colleague whom I’ve started to think as my mentor. I have few awesome friends who support me even when I’m down to the ground. I’ve already been part of 2 startups where things didn’t quite work out as they planned. Yet I’ve joined another one. And I just realized,
I really don’t care anymore about what I want to be 10 years later. I’m just going to do what, I feel, is right and see where it goes. I have enough skills to earn my bread everyday. That’s more than enough for me to go on.