«

»

Dec
09

Giving Up Your Career?

This question has often got me pondering. I’ve tried and yet I fail to find answers. Maybe you all out there can give in your perspectives. So before I go into the actual question that haunts me here is a short background.

All said and done, with the male-female equality in mind and the female liberalization; even today it is very difficult to expect a man to sit at home and let the woman run the house. On the other hand it’s far easier for us women to give up careers and be the housewives while the hubby gets in the moolah to run the house. I for one agree to neither option. I’m a little traditional where I would not want the husband to be the house-man and a liberal where the wife should work to earn some bucks as well.

So the question here is that I cannot fathom why women who are well educated, have pursued professional courses like medicine, MBA engineering, Masters, PhD, just decide to give it up one fine day and be at home. I’ve seen the most talented of my friends and relatives do it. I’m still trying to reason out why.

One school of thought looks at them as the epitome of sacrifice and generosity and makes career-pursuing women look like villains. The other one simple cannot comprehend what drove them to take such a step and regards it as a decision taken under pressure to cater to everyone’s needs or simply because they were too lazy to pursue their jobs or lost the drive for it.

The housewife is a nice lucrative option for most girls who don’t want to study and pursue careers either. Men sadly do not enjoy that luxury. It’s easier for a woman to find a husband who will take care of her for the rest of her life and extremely impossible for a man to find a wife who does the same to him. Mind you, I’m not trying to sound condescending towards the role of a housewife here. I think it is extremely difficult to be one and really can take its toll. But it is also a fact that your world gets restricted if you are not going find out ways to indulge yourself in things apart from your house, husband and kids.

When qualified women tread the path as well, it sometimes irks me. I have always felt that all you learn in life and gain, should not be wasted. You will pass on the learning to your kids but why not use it to develop yourself continuously. What drives us to give it up?

I’m not asking you to lead high-profile careers, neglect your families. You need not even have a job. But I do ask of you to develop your own identity and adding onto it; even try to be financially independent. It is extremely important to do so. It gives you a sense of individuality, independance, self-respect, opinion and freedom. You discover a world beyond your own, and the experience only enriches your life.

The experiences you gain only helps you see the things at home in a different light as well. You have lived in that world before so why not go back and help to achieve the best of both worlds. And for ladies who have never worked, venture out and experience, maybe you will discover hidden talents and explore them further.

There are so many things you can do.

  • If you like lending a helping hand, volunteer with a NGO.
  • If you are a fine cook, start cooking classes at home, maybe just once a week. You can also supply lunch-dinner tiffins to bachelors/single girls living in the city/town. How they long for home-made food, and you can obviously make some good money from it. If tiffins are too hectic, how about preparing small snack items and supplying them. Who knows your culinary skills mightlead you to the hotel business or to being a top chef
  • If you paint well, start drawing classes. Pottery, fabric painting etc.
  • If you are a trained classical dancer/singer, you could conduct dancing/singing classes or join a class to teach the same
  • If you have a fetish for computers, you could join computer classes and teach there or take up small assignments from home
  • If you love teaching, you could take tuitions for kids.
  • If you love music, love to talk and have a great voice, try auditioning for a Radio Jockey
  • If you love to be in sync with the happening around the world, ever thought of opting for a news-reader’s job on radio or TV?
  • Writing is your passion, try pursuing for a guest column option in local newspapers/magazines
  • If your husband runs his own business why don’t you try coaxing him to let you come to office and understand it and help in some aspect; the finances, the operations, the administration, or the human resource management. You need not always be qualified professional for that, after all experience is the best teacher of all.
  • If you do not want to go work, then you can be a student for the various classes and develop your interests. Join various hobby classes, and maybe that will motivate you to start one of your own. Learn a foreign language, or maybe kick-boxing.

There are so many things to do.

There was another wonderful and unique option I saw my aunt indulge in. All the elderly ladies in her area formed a small group known as ‘Bhagini Bhajan Mandal’ (Ladies Devotional Song Club) They would perform devotional songs at the house-pooja and at all festivals. They never charged anything. They started it as an interest and with the intention to spend some time praying and praising God. Their songs went down so well with everyone that soon they became well-known and were called to perform at all festivities. They even went on tours in various areas performing with other ‘mandals’ from different regions. It helped them learn about other places, make new friends, learn their life-stories and share their experiences as well. Every time she comes back, she has new anecdotes to tell and her grand-daughters refuse to miss any of her performances being held in their hometown.

Basically the point I’m trying to drive is to find your interests and pursue them. For whatever reasons you might not have been able to pursue a career; due to family pressure or because you were not that ambitious, your priorities were different. Don’t wait for that moment in life when you have completed all your duties and look back, you regret for not taking up those small opportunities which would have helped you develop as an individual. The same opportunities that would have helped you overcome the regret for not pursuing the career of your choice.

Life always presents you with alternatives and it is for us to tap them at the right moment. Life is short and there is so much to learn, why would you want not to?

A career is not what you make in a high-profile pressure job. A career is what you make when you are successful in the little things you pursue. You being a housewife need not always mean giving up everything, you have to look at pursuing the new opportutnites that exist around you. There are many ways where you can do some justice to the education you received and the talents you are blessed with. Prove yourself that you were worth it.

18 comments

  1. NB says:

    Minal..agree..

  2. Minal says:

    @nb: Of course I mentioned that being a housewife can really take its toll. It’s one hell of a job. All that I’m saying is once you are little free of your responsibilities, say your kids grow up, why not pursue interests. It would only help the lady more.
    :-)

  3. NB says:

    Minal..well written..
    but you also forget to mention the fact that being a “Homemaker” is also a Full time job with its own sets of challenges..(atleast thats what my wife leads me to belive)..i have my doubts..
    but you are right..the right balance needs to be struck….
    cheers..

  4. Minal says:

    @Shoefiend: Well I try not to get preachy, you know we rarely practice what we preach;-) Wow my hubby echoes the same sentiments,I shall keep you posted as well. These guys;-)!

    @Anon:I’m curious to know your name, and once I know that I’ll let you know my profession is:-)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Minal, I am curious to know what your profession is – do you work, are a housewife, or pursue some of these interesting options that you have presented here?

  6. The ramblings of a shoe fiend says:

    Well written Minal… it’s easy to get preachy when writing about a subject like this and I think you avoided falling in to that trap rather well. My husband often jokes that once I start climbing the so called ladder of success he’s going to take a back seat and run the house… will let you know if he keeps his word :D

  7. Minal says:

    @Neha: Similar story here:-)I have had my father assist my mom not only in my ubringing but in every chore of the house.And yup both of them were extremely good at their proffesional lives too:-) I do agree with what you say Sharing household work and dignity for ALL work:-)
    Women can opt for a break,there is nothing wrong in that but all I hope is that they come back to their life after their children are grown up a bit:-)

    @Arun: Thanks:-)

  8. Arun says:

    What an excellent post Minal. Quite like what I have been trying to prop up, though in a different context. But I couldn’t have said it better than this. Brillaint!

  9. neha vish says:

    Thanks to my own upbringing – I would be quite comfortable with the idea of a male homemaker. My father played a very big role in nurturing us, and both my parents had successful careers.

    I think a lot has to do with a) Sharing household work and b) Dignity for ALL work.

    But ultimately, it’s about choice. I am not sure women have all the choice in the matter. If they so choose it – can they ask their husbands to stay home and take of the children? It’s a single loop choice. Either you choose the circus act or refuse to work. Sad.

  10. Minal says:

    @Sujatha: Point well made and taken. I think you were right about the third and the most important dimension.
    There wasn’t any intention to denigrade or attack any choices.
    All I feel is once the child too is up on his own, the lady should start indulging herself in small tasks, it helps personal growth on a different level.Breaks are good, and all said and done once the priorities are clear there should be ways to figure out that there are no regrets.
    Nice insight, thanks:-))

  11. Sujatha says:

    Minal,

    A thoughtful post. There are no universal answers. Each family has to figure out what is best for them. And you will not have the answers when you don’t have the third dimension (a child, the first two being the husband and the wife) to figure into the calculations. You will really know what needs to be done when the child arrives and you are weighing your options. When I was working full-time at a law firm, I imagined that I would be able to work and take care of N without any problems, but when the time came V and I figured how tough it was. There was no way both V and I could have successful careers and be good parents to N. Yesterday, V said an interesting thing. The whole juggling act is a zero sum game and you just have to figure out which part you are going to take away from in order to feed the other.

    It’s a matter of getting your priorities right and this of course depends on what YOU and your spouse belive is important, not society, not the rest of your family.

    But giving up a career doesn’t mean that your education has gone to waste. The whole feminist movement was about giving women choices, not about compelling women to work if they chose not to. And if people say that you are wasting your education if you stay home, that I’m afraid, is a load of crap. Raising a child is no mean feat. Of course, you can let your child just grow up and cross your fingers and hope they grow up well, but raising a child is a completely different ball game and it requires all the wits you have and all the wits you don’t have.

    OK, I’d better stop. The point I’m trying to make is that there are work-at-home moms, there are working moms, there are women and men who’ve chosen not to have children, there are work-at-home dads, there are working dads (most of them). Each of them deserves all the support they can get from every quarter. They’ve chosen what is best for them and none of them deserves to be denigrated or attacked for that.

  12. Minal says:

    @Rauf:“A women’s interest is never a priority in a household east or west.”, The scenario is changing big time, it will take time for everyone to catch up but you can see the efforts.

    And finally please avoid personal comments, they will not be entertained. Feel free to comment on the blog content, no remarks personally will be taken for and therefore no responses to the same.

  13. Rauf says:

    I am sorry this is not happening in real life.
    Perhaps you have the most understanding husband in the world.
    What if you have a brilliant idea and your husband does not approve of it.
    What if you start earning more than your husband ?
    A women’s interest is never a priority in a household east or west.
    I am not asking any woman to walk out of their marriages, or not to get married at all.
    I am just asking men to be a bit more understanding.
    http://whitesroad.blogspot.com/2005/11/thank-you-eve.html

  14. Minal says:

    @Sheetal: Thanks sis:-)
    @Rauf: I’m not askng women to give up their career, in fact I’m against it but there always ‘n’ no. of other options to pursue. I don’t think for the options I’ve mentioned, you really need to take the”permission” of your husband. You seek his opinion and there is nothing wrong in that. He is your life-partner as much as your opinion plays a role in his life so does his. If you don’t want that and to be in full control of your life, I’m sorry sir but don’t get married:-) And in today’s age I see women have a mind of their own and take conscious decisions.

    @Mary: Mary you are so young and have so many years to go. Whatever you decide think it through and don’t ever regret it:-)

    @Roopa: If you have a supporting family you can balance your work-life. It’s upto you what you are willing to compromise on the personal front. I’ve known cases where women have struck a fine balance between work and home. It’s not bullshit for sure. How ambitious you are depends on your priorities. As I said it’s upto every individual to define their success parameters. My definition of success need not match yours:-)
    As I said it’s the choices we make and there are ways to make sure we don’t regret the same:-)

    Btw glad that finally one topic got you commenting;-) Hope you doing good…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Minu, this is the 1st time I am leaving a comment on your blog. Well this is an interesting topic to debate on. When you talk of work-life balance when you are working it is all bullshit. If you have to be better than the best in your organisation you have to make personal compromises because there are many people ahead of you. If you are mediocre then you are discriminated against especially if you are a woman. So its of paramount importance for a woman to make a choice where she wants to fit in. She can either stay at home and indulge in activities like starting cooking classes,drawing classes etc or she has to give her 100% at work.I don’t want to sound very harsh but this is a fact of life.

    Roopa

  16. Mary says:

    Minal – What a great post :) I loved that what you’re saying is ‘get out of your comfort zone’ and try something you never thought you could do.

    My thoughts on the argument of housewife vs career from my point of view (although I guess I’m a little young to know fully what I would do myself) are fairly similar to yours.. I probably wouldn’t have a full-time career.. but I would have something not far off that, while at the same time be a housewife.

  17. Rauf says:

    yea you seem to be helping that notion, all the options you have given need the approval of men.
    that is not the answer.

    What women really want is to be in full control of their lives, a simple thing which stupid men don’t understand, as per your suggestions women willingly play into the hands of men because their faith tells them so.
    ‘serve your man you serve god’
    can you believe this ? all stupid scriptures say that. I am pissed really. ashamed of being a man.
    disgusted with the way things are running with human race, i take refuge in the forest. please read my old blogs, don remember which ones, its on this subject, many of them.

  18. Sheetal says:

    I agree to your thoughts 101%
    Every woman should have some identity other than being someone’s daughter, wife, mother sister etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>