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Dear Society of Working Mothers

“I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.” Gloria Steinem

My husband and I make quite a good team, however like any other couple we have our share of conflicting propositions. In a recent episode of the same, I asked my husband what he has on his plate that kept him so mentally occupied? And he very honestly answered; ‘Well, I have to deal with work pressures to provide for the family, tell me what you have on your plate?!’. I’m positive he instantly regretted having asked me that question.

I began my career one week after finishing my undergrad exams. I was lucky enough to be hired by one of the top tier firms of the Legal 500, also a Lex Mundi member law firm. When I started working there, despite my enthusiasm, I often thought why I opted to get stuck in such a difficult spot – with full time working hours/6 days a week, a one hour commute every day in Karachi’s ridiculous traffic coupled with all the expectations, pressures and deadlines that now add to my valued assets. I was hired along with 8 other fresh graduates and because of my result-oriented approach, my probation period had been waived off, I was given a raise only 3 months after joining and I was made to lead a team of 4 of my colleagues who joined the firm with me.

Soon after, I made my first career move and joined the legal department of one of biggest group of companies in Pakistan. For an in-house legal job, the exposure was great because of the huge variety of clientele the company had.

In 2013, I decided to pursue my Masters in Law and went to the UK for a year. Despite my minimal savings and my family’s support, I knew I was going to be tight on budget. I went to a good school and lived in a great accommodation but that was about it when it came to my foreign luxuries. I interned at a law firm on my off days from school and was paid the minimum wage on a weekly basis. I also tutored for math and English at a local church and made a few pounds there. And for every opportunity I got, I baby sat for families to make some extra money. All in all, I managed to generate my running cost during my stay. Unlike other students who live abroad and party hard, I was almost always on duty with or without my books. But like they say, hard work and determination always pays off, I managed to graduate with a distinction in my LLM.

As soon as I was back, I got married and shifted to Islamabad. Change of place, culture, family, environment and interests. I was trying to develop an understanding of a lot of things including my new relationship. My husband, who works in the telecom industry as well, has always been very supportive of my ambitions and dreams. Soon, I got an opportunity to work for one of the oldest law firms of Pakistan which currently operates in 13 countries across the world.

It was not easy to manage career and a joint family system. I had to wake up 3 hours before it was time to leave for work, make breakfast and do my fair share of the house chores. The commute once again was a killer and I was straight in the kitchen as soon as I reached back home. I remember spending a lot of days at work when I would be thinking about how to manage a situation back home. There were times when I would have to forcefully shut down the home front to be able to perform at work. It was extremely hectic but it all worked out.

I took a career gap when I was blessed with a baby boy two years ago. With all the madness I had willingly been enduring ever since I finished my undergrad, my life suddenly was nothing short of pure bliss. Yes, house chores and looking after a baby with no help is a quite a job in itself but at least you’re your own boss. I thoroughly enjoyed being a full time mom for a year and a half and then I made one of the toughest decisions of my life – to resume my career.

You see, a lot of things change once a fresh undergrad encompasses the role of a wife/daughter-in-law – but then it’s an entirely different universe when a woman becomes a mother. Despite of culture or religion or any other factor that there may be, a mother remains a mother and she is seldom satisfied with her performance as a mother based on the bars that she has set for herself. It’s always ‘I wish I could somehow also do that for my baby!’.

Women have been part of the workforce for the last several decades, in fact, about half of all mothers around the globe work for pay. However, despite their growing prominence, having to juggle their family and work hasn’t gotten easier for the average working lady belonging to a middle class family.

When I decided to resume work, I gave endless interviews in local and multinational companies. Regardless of my achievements and capabilities, I was more than often judged or ruled out by the mere fact that I was a mother to 1.5-year-old. “Achaaa… so how will you manage working hours with your baby?”, “We usually have realllllyyyyy late sittings at office you know”, “Why do you even want to work?!” – are only some of the very “supportive” statements that I have faced while giving interviews. Almost every workplace these days sells the fact that they believe in “gender diversity” and “facilitating working mothers”, but to add on to the irony I faced, I was mostly discouraged and doubted by the female employers as opposed to the men who interviewed me. I remember, after one such interview, I came back home to my extremely excited toddler and husband and my husband asked me how the interview went and I just broke down. I cried so much because I was made to feel like it was my fault that I was married and that it was my fault that I was a mother. The feeling was horrible and I pity those people who make you feel this way. I had almost lost all hope but my family needed a financial supporter which is why I kept trying my luck.

My interview with my present employer was not a smooth ride either. I faced the same drill regarding my long career gap? How I will manage home and why was I even bothered about resuming work? When I walked out of the interview, a part of me was sure that I will not make it. But fortunately, I was called in during the same week to finalize an acceptable package and begin work. Perhaps, for once someone was ready to place the risk on a woman who was also a mother.

As stated by the president of a New York-based organization, women in the ascent phase of their careers often cite “the challenges of managing work in the workplace and work at home” as an obstacle. It’s unfortunate how we only “talk more and do less” when it comes to truly facilitating and encouraging females to become part of the working society. Despite of having its set of challenges, I feel grateful to my current employer for giving me the opportunity to show case my skills and test my true mettle as a working mother.

Undoubtedly, I have frequent bouts of working mom’s guilt and I often wonder why I am paying someone else to raise my son. But lately I have realized that it’s worth it to trade some toddler tantrums for office hours in order to maintain my sanity. I am enjoying my job for all the things that I get to learn but also because it forces me to brush my hair every morning and have proper adult, intellectual conversations.

Despite the time off that I get from being a mom and a wife, my favorite time of the day is when I go to pick my baby from his daycare. The way his face lights up to see me followed by the melodies squeal of ‘mama aaagaaiiii’ just takes away all my tiredness from work. It is the one moment, every single day of my week, that I look forward to.

The younger, more carefree version of me, had a clear idyllic vision of where I wanted to be in my career. Wearing a funky blazer with hip glasses, being surrounded by collaborative millennials brainstorming on a high profile case while I sipped on my black coffee in my favorite mug. Just the thought of it gives me the thrills and makes me feel all smart and productive. But if I were to run after that dream today, it would mean to ruthlessly wake up my 2-year-old at 6 in the morning, jam some quick breakfast down his throat, brush his teeth in the car and drop him off at day care before he could make sense of anything from the day. It would mean, hiring someone to cook for my family, clean my house and attend to the daily needs of my husband and child as I fancy my dream of making a career.

Being a working mother, it is very important for us to constantly evaluate our priorities. It’s a constant juggle, an everlasting balancing act. While, we do our part of being a professional and a mother at the same time, it is imperative that our workforces and our society truly appreciate the daily struggle and actually facilitate women who are always pushing boundaries to explore their capabilities and strengths. The human mind is said to thrive only in the presence of challenging situations – raising your child and financially supporting your family, definitely suffices as one. I still have a long way to go in my career but for now, I cherish a happy family picture of my husband, my son and I that’s plugged onto my fridge, while I brew some evening tea after work – after all, family and home is what we all work for.

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My two year old “Son-shine”

My dearest Z,

It seems as if today has come after a long wait … a wait full of hopes and dreams and nothing but endless love. May such ‘waits’ continue to bloom into your birthday for a million years ahead.

Two years is a long time but then it probably isn’t. It’s almost impossible to think about how my life was before you were born – that phase is like a happily forgotten era. At the same time, I can’t believe it’s been ‘two years’ already since you came into my life! Where did time go?!

I am not writing today to talk about all the milestones that you have so gracefully achieved – but rather, let this be a way of celebrating the past two very beautiful years of our life.

I’ve mentioned in my posts before and I proudly repeat that you are not only my strength but you, at your tender age, are my biggest inspiration. Never have I wanted to improve myself for someone as much as I want to be perfect just for you – in every possible way. It’s unbelievably amazing how someone who’s only 2 can create so much eagerness in you to become an ideal – a role model – a mere better version of your own self.

Every single day of the past two years, every moment is so so precious with you. And every passing moment is fragile and dear to me. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for today, the past two years and an entire lifetime of watching you bloom into a beautiful person – my little baby, my son.

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My happy place ❤

They say a child giggles with purity in his heart, without any care of the world. I am so ever thankful to Allah for filling my heart and home with those giggles…

They say a child has never ending curiosity, a constant thirst to master every new skill they get their hands on. This determination coupled with your heart-melting innocence makes every single day of my life very challenging but extremely blissful at the same time. So very thankful ya Allah.

And finally, they say with every child, a mother is born. What you have given me baita, no one can ever replace it and no one can ever give me anything better than the gift of being a mother. For this blessing, thank you ya Allah and thank YOU my son…

Although you surprise us every day with how kind, caring and intelligent you are but still – there are a few things I want you to remember. As you grow, you will gradually cross the threshold of home for school and then school for work and so on. You will now realize that this world is an ever changing place. Till today, your amma and baba have been everything that surrounds you but as you grow, make new friends and learn new things because dear son, there awaits for you, a world beyond us. However, just remember, in the middle of all the excitement of exploring new ventures, don’t forget that this world is also temporary. There is a greater cause for why we are all here. Always be kind – be thoughtful – be generous and loving like you already are Z.. and you will see how beautiful your life will become. Work very hard to please Allah and try not to ever hurt anyone, in any way.

The mere thought of all the years unfolding before you gets me very excited and also a bit scared. But for now, I will just be thankful for all the moments that we have enjoyed together. Come what may, I have never taken our times of togetherness for granted – I have always valued this time that we have together – I know these years are precious and they will never come back. I hope you learn to appreciate ‘today‘ as well.

There’s so much that I want to say and there’s no way my words will ever articulate how I feel. I am just so thankful for having you as my son and I pray to Allah that I can remember all the finer nuances that fill our daily lives – all the little jokes, all the fun we have and the countless adorable things you come up with everyday! I hope my heart can always hold the beauty of every breath that I take with you and I hope that when it comes to you, my memory outlasts every moment captured by a photograph or a video of yours.

May you have the best of both worlds ya Rab!

Happy birthday my “Son-shine” !

Love,

Amma

 

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A forever guilt

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Neither age nor time can get you ‘used to of it’.

I remember as a child once my father had to do a day trip to another city for official work. My uncle used to live with us back then. Abbu was going to be home late that night and till then, for the entire day, my uncle kept coming up with ideas to cheer me up. A long drive… some ice cream… whatever the poor soul could think of. But nothing seemed to matter. I just wanted Abbu to come back home.

The first time I felt the same kind of knot in my stomach for my mom was when I was much older. It was when I went to the UK for my masters. It didn’t hurt that bad when I was leaving – perhaps because I had so much to look forward to. But 4 months later when I planned to give my family a surprise visit – that’s when it hit me. My mom was at the airport because my dad told her that one of his friends was coming. Ammi had no idea I was going to be there. She waited patiently in the airport lobby and with every step I took towards her I realized how much I’ve wanted to be with her. She hugged me and cried and kept saying ‘mera bacha’ (‘my child’). That moment – that was when I felt that I just needed to come back home.

There is no age. There are no circumstances. There will never be a ‘time’ when it will not hurt so deep that you feel like someone just took your heart and crushed it between their fist. To settle away from your parents, especially once you get married, creates a permanent void. You visit them and they visit you but only being with each other fills this void in your heart.

People move on in life. Things change, responsibilities grow. But certain relationships are your roots – constantly keeping a check that you remain intact even though you are growing. From a daughter to a wife to a mother – the journey is one that is beautiful but somewhere deep within you realize that there was someone who you once took for granted and now you yearn to be with them.

Despite of being a mother myself now, I get stern reminders from my Abbu to let him know that I have reached work safely. I get constant loving reminders from Ammi to offer my prayers on time and eat well. Sometimes I just miss being their little girl.

I remember, before getting married, every time I came back from work I would walk into Ammi’s room and most of the times she would be praying. Regardless of what part of her prayer she was in, I would quickly place my head on her lap as soon as she sat down. There were times when she had to finish her prayer sitting with my head on her lap because I wouldn’t get up. And the most beautiful part of this memory is that she let me lay there for as long as I wanted.

My relationship with Abbu is very unique. I have feared his temper all my life yet he is my biggest confidant. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that my father doesn’t know about me. And this one feeling puts my heart and mind at ease. I know that somebody has my back – somebody is always on the watch. He has been my teacher – from math to economics to law to life in general. He has been my mentor and life support till date. He has taught me through love and anger but mostly through example. And regardless of whether he is around, he makes sure that I know that I am being taken care of.

Over time, I’ve learnt to be strong, I’ve learnt to laugh even when I have no reason to, I’ve learnt to run my errands and fulfill my responsibilities even when I can barely feel the strength to stand and I’ve learnt to reprioritize my relationships time and again. Despite the fact that I miss these two people every second of every day – I have learnt to keep on going. In the many ways that I have changed with changing times, this is one too – I will never be the same person that I was before I settled away from my parents. It’s like I left a part of me there and only when I am with them do I feel complete.

It’s a constant and painful struggle to have to let go of people who mean everything to you especially when you know they need you. Other responsibilities and roles take over something which has always been on the top of your priority list. There are times when I wish I could go to my Ammi and help her with the house chores. Just a few days ago she had to go out for getting some taxation related paperwork done. She ran around to meet a number of people and visited a number of offices in scorching daylight. Drove back home and was exhausted. How I wish I could tell her to sit at home while I got the work done. But I can’t because of my present commitments. Because I am now a wife and a mother and a professional.

It’s true that life operates through paradoxes and it throws them at you just when they hurt too much. You make your parents second and begin to build your own life and even then… even then they support you. They pray for you to succeed. They guide you.

Today I feel the same ache in the void of my heart. I once again had to bid my Abbu farewell so that I could carry on with being a wife, a mother and a professional – despite of how much I wished for him to be with me and more so over, how much I needed to be with him, we said our goodbyes. And every time I whine in front of him complaining about how unfair this is … he gracefully tilts his head a bit, closes his eyes, gently nods and says ‘this is life beta, this is life.

So this one is to all those people who part from their parents to build a life of their own. Not just women but also men who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones, put their act together and grow with growing relationships and responsibilities. To all the parents like my ammi abbu who let their children fly off to explore the new wonders of life and continue to offer their continuous support. I wish I get the opportunity to spend the kind of time that I want to with you both and I pray to have a heart as strong as yours to be so supportive for my child. And finally, this one is for my child and for all those who are still living with their parents – talk to them a little more, listen to them with patience, sit with them and ask them about their day, make more memories, resolve your mistakes together and lie down on your mother’s lap a little longer – because one day, for whatever reason, you may have to wait for a really long time to be able to do all that.

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Thank you baby

People rightfully say that when a woman gives birth, two lives come into being; firstly, the baby and secondly that of a mother. I’ve read so many articles and blogs where women have expressed their journey of walking into motherhood and yet I sit here completely clueless about how to pen down mine.

I may not remember what I did or felt on my birthday or my anniversary two years ago. Two years is quite some time for us to recall and relive. But I seem to remember every single minute from the 11th of July 2015. Right from walking into the delivery room holding my husband’s hand, feeling extremely scared and then after hours which seemed like years… to that priceless moment when I nervously held little ‘Z’ for the first time.

Having a baby is a rare, blessed event in your life that forever changes you. Although motherhood is not for the faint of heart for the first few months but nevertheless it is a unique experience where you get to discover a new you amidst tiny toes and giggles that will fill your heart with a kind of love that you’ve never felt before. Safe to say, a baby is a gift that simply keeps on giving.

There are countless memories that I would like to jot down about my Z. Perhaps I will never have sufficient time or even words to express the kind of life we have had together so far. Not to forget, the way I have already planned the coming years with him – full of exploration and adventure and lots of laughs (In sha Allah ya Rab). Hence, what will be easier to translate into words is what Z has made me and taught me ever since he came into my life.

He defined patience for me.

When Z was born I struggled very hard to find a balance in life. There were days when I actually broke down in tears because I forgot to brush my teeth and it was nearly noon. Yup actually happened. With Z having nearly no patience and his mom having very little herself, we needed this relationship to work. Z brought me face-to-face with the fact that compromises are mandatory in order to meet with your baby’s needs. He taught me that some days it was ok to look like a wreck because that is you trying to be a mother for your baby. Z taught me how to just hang in there, he showed me a new perspective to what patience can look like.

Z taught me not to be judgmental – for real.

Have you ever noticed little babies just blankly stare at anyone and everyone and then suddenly break into a heart-melting smile? When my Z would do that to complete strangers, in the restaurant or in a mall, at first I used to feel embarrassed about it, but eventually I realized how he had no ego or any preconceived notions about who he saw – unlike us adults. Z met every stranger with plain curiosity and cuteness – and every stranger welcomed his smile with one of their own – it was always just beautiful.

I have always loved music but Z introduced me to my love for Disney songs and nursery rhymes. Yes sir, that happens when you have a baby!

Sometimes I try to sing one of my personal favorites to him and more than often he finds it weird or boring. It’s interesting to see someone’s reaction when they listen to your all-time favorite track for the very first time. But it’s so much cuter to see them nod their tiny head sideways when you start singing ‘Old mcdonald had a farm eeee-ya eeee-yay o!’. I have mastered nursery rhymes like a pro!

He taught me how to live in today – by the hour.

I have always liked my errands well planned out – everything arranged and sorted before time. But all of that was before Z. Now I have a peripheral vision which is heavily clouded because of sleep deprivation along with white noise. I am constantly reaching out to capture each of Z’s moments. His first laugh – his first roll over – his first step – his first word! Picture – Video – Picture – Check!! With Z, every second seems to matter – making sure I haven’t missed out on any of his developments. Z taught me that every single second is precious and that it must be captured and cherished for life. He has taught me that we really have no time to waste. If I missed recording the first time he stood on his own – well then I just missed it. Every moment must be savored. Life really is too short to be spent miserably.

Z taught me to plan.

Yes as contrary as it may seem to my previous paragraphs, with Z and because of him I have learnt that one must foresee situations and plan before time. You ought to plan for an untimed poop. Must be prepared for a casual burp to turn into a spit up. Prepare for hunger pants – for naptime tantrum and the list goes on. Before if I wanted to go anywhere my prep time would be 20-30 min … shower, makeup, pick up the bag and keys and out the door! But ever since Z.. it’s something like this…

Attempts to shower can take upto 2 hours – end up only washing your face, hands and feet so that you look clean.

Pack up baby bag – should take 8 min – actually takes an hour because the baby wants to be carried or fed or changed or simply needs someone to come and play with him for a bit.

Prepare baby food – should take 10 min – actually takes 30 because of not being able to decide what to make first and then how to pack it and then change your mind because you might not be able to warm it where you’re headed or you may not have a place to sit down and feed it to your baby.

Finally have things sorted and drop them to the car. Come back inside because you forgot to keep the water. Go back to the car. Come back inside because you forgot to keep the warm water which you need for the milk. Go back to the car. Come back inside, get the baby, take one step out and you realize that it’s his feed time. Come back in, feed, baby poops, change his clothes, lift him up for a burp, but instead he decides to throw back half the milk he took – change him again – change your clothes again! Tie your hair up in a bun, pray that your baby will now get some sleep and head out. Understand what I mean?!

Finally, Z taught me that I will never be the perfect mom; but I’m just enough for him.

I will never be perfect according to someone or the other. People will always find a label which suits them best, to place on me. I will either be an over protective mother or a careless one. A sensitive one or an indifferent one. A tiger mom or a lazy mom. Obsessive, negligent, smart, nerdy, too-much make up, no make-up, too fat, too thin, Type A or Type B and the list can go on. I had my share of such labels. There were times when I felt good about myself as a mother but mostly, thanks to the surrounding pressures, I was made to feel like a complete failure at my job. Unfortunately, this is what people do best in our society. And just so we are clear – it’s not only your neighbors or distant relatives who will pass such irresponsible comments – but people from work as well – oh she’s taken extra maternity leaves, why doesn’t she just put her baby on formula and get back to work, why doesn’t she just ask google instead of going to the doctor for everything. Been there, done that.

But you know, through all this – Z was with me. And he made me see the struggle which every other mother goes through. Everyone is doing their best to be a good parent. Everyone is trying not to mess up this little creature. So with Z, I eventually learnt to just laugh at all the judgmental remarks that I got. At the end of the day, if your little one is satisfied – the world is a beautiful place to be in. So dear moms, take a sneak peek at your little one – is he/she happy? That there is a job well done!

 

 

 

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Different times

It’s been a while since I last posted something here – for that matter, it’s been a while since I last wrote. There’s so much on my plate at the moment and even more on my mind but probably because of my piling urge to be somewhere on my mental checklist – I decided to sit down and write today.

I recently resumed work after a gap of nearly two years. Two complete years went by a flash because I have been busy raising my beautifully curious plus hyper toddler. Many things happen when you make the shift from being just you to a mom. From being a corporate go-getter to an attentive put-together mother. From having major emotional upheavals to constantly wanting to feel worthy of your set of skills. It’s an everyday struggle – but rest assured, a beautiful one.

This post is not about how wonderfully my life has transformed after my Z – I shall dedicate a separate write up just for that. This here today, as I mentioned earlier, is about having too much on my plate and more so on my mind.

I want to read more. I want to listen to more music. I want to watch more movies. I want to travel at least twice a year. I want to sing again. I want to make a mark at my new workplace. I also want to furnish my house more. Clean it more often too. I also want to spend more time with Z, oh and also get some laundry done.

More than often, I want someone to pat me on the back and tell me I’ve done well. I want to be able to sigh with relief after successfully crossing out every item on my mental checklist. I want to curl up into bed at night – comfortable and relaxed – without every inch of my body aching out of either exhaustion or stress. But seldom do I feel like I have it my all.

I want to paint with Z. I want to show him more places, more people, more cultures. I want to read more to him. I want to take him swimming. I want him to learn to play an instrument. I want him to see that his mom is trying to juggle with responsibilities and desires – I want him to know that his mom can be a person he can look up to.

I sometimes am forced to believe that perhaps I am living in a crisis – with multiple agendas and hurried thoughts. There are days when I feel like I have earned an Oscar for myself and there are days when I feel torn in multiple ways. More than often I feel like my day wasn’t as productive as it should have been.

As frustrating as it may seem the reason for having such emotions is quite simple – I just want to have it all. I want to do it all. I want to be it all. I want to think it all.

Every. Single. Thing.

From making meals for my baby from scratch to hitting the gym. From being able to finish one novel after the other to keeping the house clean. From being a good mom to a successful corporate woman. The daily struggle to be able to do it all can be very over whelming.

When I had Z and all those mixed emotions of ‘will I ever be a good mom?’ and ‘will I ever be a successful lawyer?’ were at their peak … I was advised time and again to remain positive. To tell my heart and mind that this is just a phase and that one day I will have my life back in control. But you know what … it’s all easier said than done.

The real problem is not that women like us are majorly all hormonal. No sir. (Although that plays its fair share). But the real battle is with the pressure that we suppress ourselves under. The peer pressure – the societal pressure – what will the entire universe think of me if my baby isn’t potty trained at 18 months?! I’m being very real here – thoughts like this can actually keep you awake the entire night making you sweat out of useless panic attacks – been there, done that.

What is important to realise and make peace with is that it is alright to feel torn sometimes. It is ok to worry about doing the best for your baby because probably that ‘worrying’ there …  well that’s what makes you a good mom. It’s normal to want to be healthy and in shape because perhaps that is what will motivate you to work out at home if hitting the gym isn’t possible. It is fine to feel like you’re wasting your set of skills because perhaps that is what will drag you back to your workplace. And finally it is allowed to feel the angst of not being able to get everything in place at a time. What we need to tell ourselves more often is that – we are trying to do our best and things will be in place, eventually.

Perfection is not necessary – contentment is. More than anything else, for first time mothers like me, I guess it’s most important that we find the courage to accept ourselves. It is important to peacefully let go of the passions that we cannot manage right now and resume them when we can. We must understand that life is all about having different phases – different times – and every phase is unique and brings with it some great experiences.

Just give it all some time.

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So what will it be?

Everyone has that one secret hide out – that one place which defines ‘beautiful’ by every means. For me, that place – that hideout – is somewhere deep inside my mind. And once I’m there – for whatever reason or some times for no reason at all – there’s nothing in the world that can make me happier & there’s nothing in the world that can possibly bring me down. The only irony is – I seldom get to go there and stay.

They say life is so unpredictable but it’s so satirical how certain things in life are so common – so known. For instance, almost everyone you run into and ask, what they want from life or how they would like their lives to be – they’ll tell you that they want to be happy, have a good life, a good time with a good family, a well-paid job, a successful marriage etc. That’s your list of the most predictable set of answers.

Everyone wants to feel good. Everyone craves for that happy, easy life where they perfectly fall into love with the perfect person, have a perfect relationship, look perfectly gorgeous, make ample money, be respected and admired and die with the perfect smile on their face. For all I know, I’d kill to have that life. The catch, however, is – it’s easy to “want” it.

Easy answers come from easy questions. And the simplest question to me is, ‘What do you want from your life?’ – then comes all or a combination of everything that I’ve written above! It’s so omnipresent that it has almost lost all of its meaning now. Just like if everyone wanted that one kind of product in the market – in no time it loses its value – it’s no longer a big deal if you have it. Similarly, to want a perfect life is something everyone craves for – so what’s the point? How are you different? Why are you more deserving than anyone else out there?

To avoid the easy answer, avoid the easy question. Ask what’s more interesting. To me, the more challenging question is ‘What struggle are you willing to take up in your life?’ What pain are you willing to endure? And for what? For whom? I believe the answer to some of these kind of questions actually determine how our lives conclude to be.

For sure I want to become a partner at the law firm I work in – I want the big bucks, the recognition, the status, the fame, the knowledge. But am I willing to suffer through insane work hours per week? Am I willing to undertake all the humiliation from my boss or my clients? The obnoxious paperwork? Surviving the nearly impossible work-life balance?

Isn’t it amazing to be all rich and fancy without having to face the traffic of hard work and gratitude? Wake up one morning and Ka-Boom!!

Sure I want to have an awesome relationship with my better half. Who wouldn’t want that? But then is everyone willing to endure the differences? Is everyone willing to face the tough communication? Is everyone willing to feel deeply hurt and still let go because you just love the other person too much? Is everyone willing to walk the entire emotional journey that it takes, to get to the point where you’ve built your mansion? If you don’t think this through and if you don’t repeatedly ask yourself ‘What and how much of all the pain are you willing to take up?’ –you merely settle. You settle down and eventually end up asking yourself ‘What if?’ and you keep asking that ‘what if’ until it turns into a ‘What for?’

Can you imagine having lived a good deal of years – sleeping and waking up with that one person who is allegedly your ‘soul mate’ only to be left with the question to which no one has an answer – ‘What for?’

The bottom line is;

Happiness doesn’t come without struggle. It requires for you to embrace pain in order for you to fully feel what happiness entails. Almost every sane human being wants those ‘good feelings’. The simplest reminder about the reality of life is – nothing good in life comes easy. Well true that, but that ‘good’ depends on where we have suffered and how we enjoyed the struggle. Whenever you analyze the cost/benefit – sadistically enough – there has to be love for the suffering. You have to be passionate about pulling all nighters to get those good grades, you have to love it when you get no recognition for your hard work at office to become a challenging entrepreneur, you have to survive the emotional turbulence and at times keep staring blankly at your phone that never rings to actually win the game of love. You have to ‘want’ the cost to ‘enjoy’ the benefit.

It seems a bit difficult so far – to really want the pain at the end of which awaits your rainbow – but the worst is yet to come. And that’s when you find yourself wanting something one after the other but it never happens and you never get any closer to it. When you constantly find yourself wanting such a thing – it is either a mirage, a fantasy or a false promise. Maybe you don’t really want it. Maybe you’re not willing to suffer enough.

For every determinant about life ask yourself the hard question. How much, how far, for how long and for who? Pleasure and happiness are the predictable answers to the easy question. But alas, life is not all about roses and unicorns.

I know it sounds weird but the truth is that pain is what gets you anywhere. What makes you strong. It makes you who you eventually become. Pain is what makes you believe in ‘hope’ – because at times that’s the only choice it gives you – to be hopeful. To have faith. To hold on. To wait.

In the end, it is the pain that defines us – distinguishes us from one another – and it’s the pain that brings us together. So my question to you is – what will your question be?

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A Day in the Life of a Lawyer

I recently completed my post grad degree from law school and if there’s one thing I can say about it – it’s this; if you can manage to survive till the end of it you’re quite a star. To be able to deal with the competitiveness, to always stay focused on your goal, to be able to tune out the insanity and most of all to always unconditionally and passionately love the subject would amount to only a handful of reasons which would want you to jump out the window – pretty often.

Being a lawyer sounds pretty awesome – & if you watch shows like Suits and Boston Legal, heck being a lawyer even looks pretty awesome! But in reality, being a lawyer has some aspects which can really push you in the corner at times and force you to either push back and break through or suffocate and sink.

Here are some things I’m sure every lawyer can relate to….

You were a star in law school, but you really know nothing.

School teaches you how to go about a given set of facts – it tells you all that has been done in the past and it inculcates within you all those fancy Acts and Statutes you ought to know. But as soon as you step into a law firm you will almost instantly realize that law school didn’t really give you enough practice of how to think like a lawyer. It does not really prepare you to practice law ‘per se’. Trust me, no matter how bright a kid you were in law school, more than often your job will make you feel like the dumbest person on Earth because and I quote my boss, it takes time to develop the legal common sense. *sigh*  

Your first job is just that.

Law firms are no longer a closely knit family affair like they used to be… about like a century ago. Business practices are moving faster than ever and have also become complex knowing no limits. Be it multinational companies or compact law firms; everyone is operating and competing across borders. Whilst it is very important to find your niche in the industry you aspire to build your career in; it is equally important to keep an eye out for the firm’s reputation. Since most fresh attorneys take up their first job out of sheer desperation to start working, I would warn them to be very careful that their first job should not attach to them its bad reputation (which again is one thing that matters a lot in the legal industry). If you get a bad vibe from your boss or even a handful of your fellow attorneys – run. You wouldn’t want to dread in guilt by association. There are a lot of good firms but there are also plenty that can ruin you.

Getting paid is like pulling out a tooth. Yourself.

So we all know how the system works right? We have clients, we do their work, we charge them by the hour, the work is done, the client is happy, they pay us, we pay our employees and we all go home.

Life would be bliss if that happened as easily as it appears up there. It’s all good up to the point where the client is happy – because after that, nope they don’t pay us that easily. Law firms usually have a mixed plate of clientele – super wealthy and famous people and the average Mr. Z – the one common problem: they won’t pay their bills. So if you are a lawyer – embrace yourself for being broke for 8 out of 12 months (on average – if you’re lucky it could be 7).  

Reality eventually beats perception

One must love their job to able to succeed in it. True. But if you are choosing to become a lawyer you will almost always have to passionately love what you do not only to succeed but to survive. Sorry, but there really isn’t any easier way of saying this. So if you want to get out of law do it before you become middle aged, frustrated and professionally depressed with no recourse of going back either because it’s too late or because you need the money. Young lawyers should actually aim to never lose interest in their job because working for a law degree can never be a great way of eventually doing something else.

It’s either the big bucks or everything else.

Although it is important to be goal driven and know what you want or which area of law you would like to practice. But all the excitement does tone down a bit. Back in law school there were so many of my classmates who were all about ‘I shall set up an NGO and do pro bono cases’ & ‘I shall be Captain Planet and save the environment’ – in the end – well you become ‘that’ person’s lawyer who is doing nothing but the exact opposite of everything you wanted to protect/save! Yup, it’s good to be optimistic and environmentalis-tic but it’s important to keep a reality check. And in today’s world, sadly, it all comes down to ‘cha-ching!

But on a lighter note, it isn’t that bad – subject to how much you love being a lawyer of course! 😛 Like me? I thoroughly enjoy my profession. Even when there are days when I have no work – I still rock at being a lawyer! And despite all the reality checks – being an attorney is so much better than being a law student. There are no more hypothetical cases – no more make believe characters – no more ‘assumptions’. Everything is reality – real people – real life scenarios. The good, the bad and the ugly. And all eyes are on you. On what you say. On how you argue their case. It does give you an adrenaline rush!