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I always wanted to write. Oh wait, I can’t say always, because frankly, I had no clue about the world or life, let alone decide what I wanted to do, until I was in high school.
In fact, I was clueless in high school too. I remember, I had to choose a “stream” of studies after Standard X, which could be Science, Arts or Commerce. I knew Science isn’t my cup of tea. (Ah, that means I wasn’t as clueless, after all!) So it had to be either Arts or Commerce, but which one?
I must interrupt and tell you, I wrote poems sometimes. I’d also pen down my feelings, emotions and thoughts, albeit infrequently. Inside my head, I must’ve scribbled conversations and stories a thousand times over. I felt a strange comfort in words.
Anyway, I can’t explain how light and hopeful I felt when I found my school is inviting a “career counsellor” for a one-day workshop to help students decide their future course of studies. After a series of tests came the much-awaited one-to-one session with the counsellor. If my memory isn’t failing me, she was Ms Amrita. You may want to note here that I was always a timid girl.
Ms. A’s first question: So Neha, what do you want to be?
Neha was zapped. She muttered to herself, “that’s what I want to know, and I thought you’re here to tell me!”
Ms. A again: Tell me Neha, what do you want to be?
Neha: Ma’am, I’m not sure. I can’t decide.
Ms. A: Do you want to be a doctor or engineer?
Neha: No Ma’am, I can’t study Science.
Ms. A: Well done, you’ve already done half the homework! So Arts or Commerce, which one?
Neha: Umm, I don’t know. Can you please tell me the career options both streams will open up for me to help me decide? I’m not really aware.
Ms. A: You’ve scored well in English. You can take up Arts.
Neha: And what can I do after studying Arts? Can I write or teach?
Ms. A: Okay, leave it. Tell me, what course do you want to take up in college? You have to decide right now as it’ll decide your career. You’re a grown up, and will be out of school soon. How can you say you don’t know? Is there any course you recently found about/heard about?
Neha was nearly in tears. A grownup she might appear, but how was she expected to know something she’d never been told about? Amid the mad rush of Standard X Board exams that were made to sound like do-or-die, she was asked to choose a stream one day. No guidance, no awareness, no information. I’m not sure a school-going child even understands what “career” means.
(After a long pause)
Neha: Umm, I read about BBA in the papers recently. I don’t know much, though.
Ms. A: Great! So you’re all set. Here’s your career path:
Commerce in Plus 2 >> BBA for three years >> MBA
With that, Ms. A handed me my career.
I joined Commerce. Plus 2 wasn’t a great experience. Economics and commerce were interesting, but maths was a foe and accountancy a burden. After school, I enrolled for B.Com (Honours). Thereafter, for 365 X 3 days, I wondered what I was doing, having been forced to mug up books after books of law and audit. My school didn’t teach me mugging – something I’m ever so grateful for. So to say that Calcutta University made me feel helplessly hopeless would be an understatement.
Oh, the other dilemma I faced during those 365 X 3 days: I am a Commerce student, so it’s mandatory to choose a professional course. Mandatory, as per societal conventions.
Pardon me, I don’t have a CA before my name. But B.Com + CA was considered the ultimate career choice for a Commerce student back then, particularly among Marwaris. I want to pause and apologize to my community here, as I’ve hardly followed conventions.
I didn’t enrol for CA, because my heart told me:
The amount of efforts (read: tuitions) you’ll have to put in to crack CA will debit happiness from your life. And there’s no guarantee the end result (read: a tax/audit job) credited to your life will make it any better.
Gossip about a new CFA program was making the rounds then. A friend told me it was mainly economics. I liked the idea, and enrolled. So it was B.Com + CFA for me, primarily, as I pursued several other finance courses/diplomas. I loved studying!
In between, I developed interest in the stock markets while watching CNBCTV18 with Mom. I got through a leading brokerage firm after college. Sadly, I was reduced to a telephone operator there, and my dreams of writing equity reports – the first-ever concrete dream I nurtured — went for a toss. Oh, didn’t I tell you I still wrote? The only difference was, they were mostly numbers now. I attended stock-market oriented workshops and courses. I spent most of my time reading about stocks and companies.
And then HSBC happened. A successful walk-in interview and here I was, working in one of the most prestigious organizations. Funds Administrator. Hedge Fund accounting. The Americas. On-shore trip to NYC! Life was on a roll. Except for the Excels.
In between, I bagged an opportunity to write about team events for in-house newsletters. That was the turning point. My HOD, Ritam Sir, had unknowingly reignited a fire within me, and handed me a career that was to shape my dreams. Had my work involved writing about numbers, I wouldn’t have left HSBC!
Sorry Ms. A, I’d deviated from the path you chose for me.
I dreamt again, of writing equity reports and articles, but from the comforts of home. I wasn’t game for another full-time job. For two years, my applications for content/creative/finance writing were rejected as I lacked a formal degree in English or Mass Communication. It was frustrating, to say the least, and for the first time, I regretted not taking up Arts in school.
Not surprisingly, I cried when I received my first cheque of Rs. 400/- from the Times of India group as a freelance features writer. I wasn’t half as emotional when I received a way fatter first salary cheque from the brokerage firm. But this TOI cheque was for writing, and that’s all that mattered. I found what tears of joy meant.
And then, Netscribes happened.
It was my life’s biggest turning point, as I’m living my dreams today entirely because Netscribes came along my way.
I applied to what I thought was a freelance finance writing job. It turned out to be a full-time vacancy. Had the HR not pushed me, I wouldn’t have joined NS. My first finance article was published on the internet on May 25, 2011. I felt the first taste of my dream – I’d never felt happier.
It’s 2016, and by God’s grace, I’m living the only dream I ever saw, the only desire I ever had. I’m writing finance articles, some on the lines of mini-equity reports, from the comforts of home for a company way bigger than I ever imagined.
If you think “I always wanted to…” remains unfulfilled, I just connected those dots for you.
‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’