If we knew each other a few years ago (let’s say 2015) and happened to have a discussion on how to integrate passion with career, I’d probably have had just opinions and not a clear-cut answer. I was then, an Accountant, working for a large hospitality management group in Dubai, UAE. But wait, it all started when I was 16 (grade XI or pre-university, as some may say).
That’s where you’re handed out two different streams – Commerce or Science – which ultimately go on to determine the remainder of your career path. Well, for the reason that I absolutely could not stand Chemistry or Physics, I chose Commerce. And yes, Accounting seemed way too interesting (back then!). And I think I did pretty well to hold up my claim. The results were, as expected, overwhelming. Subsequently, I went on to do two courses in Business Management since that’s what the world thought I’d excel at. Ask me whether I knew? Nope. I was going with the flow.
After a 5 year stint in Bangalore, I definitely needed a change of scene. The job hunt ultimately led me to the Middle East, the second home of every Malayali. It wasn’t as easy as I’d expected, being a fresher with a couple of Business Management degrees. Firstly, I actually did not know what jobs I could apply for. The ads I’d seen varied from Storekeeper to Accountant to Supply Chain Executive. As I’d taken Finance for my ‘specialization’, I ended up being an Assistant Accountant. Why did I take it up? Because I couldn’t fathom anything better for me at that point in time (plus my visit visa was about to expire).
Yet, I’d say everything was going reasonably well in the conventional sense of it. It hadn’t taken me too long (just a couple of months) before I found a job in the UAE that I thought was worth signing up for, unlike several others who had to return home without any. Now let’s fast forward again to 2015 (i.e. two years into my first job) and pick up where I left off.
The job was decently paying – I was able to save enough every month. Accounting wasn’t that difficult a job contrary to how it has been perceived (P.S – Having a strong set of seniors always helps!). Unlike surgeons, we could undo an Accounting botch (of even millions) by simply passing a reversal entry during the statutory audits. It seemed exciting enough for a year (or two). Eventually, the challenges began to wane, the work became extremely mechanical, and the payoff was negligible. I was sleepwalking my way through daily, weekly, and monthly submissions. There was nothing fulfilling about it anymore!
Almost into my third year of work, I came across a lot of people posting their tiny write-ups on social media. An Instagram friend recommended me to start a blog (on food, primarily because I posted a lot of food pictures – come on, Dubai is a foodie haven!). Little did she know that I was doing it mostly for the free invites (and to get to meet new, interesting people). However, I did start a blog on WordPress (yes, this is THAT one, LOL!) and began publishing film & restaurant reviews on it. The response turned out to be better than I thought, with numerous peeps telling me that I had a flair for conveying the message deftly. I started posting a lot more regularly, introduced myself to Zomato (where you level up with the number of restaurant reviews/pictures that you post), and IMDB (where you could [previously] bash people up over their opinions on films through message boards/forums [such fun it used to be!]). Social media (especially Instagram) aided me in connecting with numerous bloggers (some who even blogged for a living) and be a part of several events that helped widen my horizons.
I also (purposefully) tried not to restrict myself to being just a ‘food-blogger’ because there were way too many out there already. Although there were a lot of food posts (yes!), I made it a point to appreciate less of myself and more of the world around me. Just a year in, I had published close to 50 posts on WordPress, over 200 reviews on Zomato, and about 100 on IMDB. I was getting to the 3.5-year mark at work too, in the meantime. I needed a break, big time. It was now or never!
I returned to India a jobless man but determined to find my true calling. I spent the next 6 months trying to cook up a freelance writing portfolio, reduce social media (to an extent!), and travel around for a bit. A few failed interviews later, I ended up pretty disappointed (but not depressed – thanks to the folks at home and the few friends that stood by me!). At interviews, I was always asked why I wanted to shift profiles (from Finance to Content/Marketing) after such a long tenure. Well, I’d say it wasn’t that long. The decision was mine, and I chose to stand by it. Even if it meant starting from scratch and working my way up the ladder. People tried putting me down, but I decided to get my ass back up and keep doing my thang. Last November, I got the call to pursue a career in writing.
It does feel different to get paid to write full-time and there are occasions where I am forced to make compromises in my style to suit the (business) needs of the entity that I work for. Nevertheless, I’m happy I opted to pursue something I love. This is just the beginning. Things are only gonna get better from here! So, for all those who don’t have clue what you’re doing with your lives, seek out that one passion which you feel, will let you leave a solid mark in this world, and direct a good part of your efforts to keeping that fire alive!
Maybe it is just something that starts off as a hobby. But trust me, any creatively-rewarding career gives you better sleep at night than that boring, dead-end job. If anyone hasn’t told you this yet, I’ll be the first!
“Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it’s business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you can’t give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short. You’ll be an old man before you know it.” – Al Lopez