So many of us are struggling with our routine lives and go to bed with dreams of a newer life, where we follow our hearts, look for creative paths and imagine waking up happy. There is always talk about leading a ‘slow life’, a life that doesn’t stress us out. But is this really a feasible way of living? Is it easier?
Rapti Bhaumick worked as a journalist at well-known publications for nearly a decade. As she worked up the ladder, she worked even longer hours, that had her phone buzzing and beeping continuously leaving her frazzled and stressed perpetually.
But a niggling thought continued to eat at her. A feeling that this is not the life she had hoped for. A feeling that there was more she strived for. Her mixed emotions toyed around the word ‘happy’ – that got stronger as she endured workplace anxiety, pressures and overall a severely tense environment.
Pursuing a dream or a slower pace of life comes with its own set of stress no doubt, the biggest one being about financial security, but you come to realise that it’s not as big a stress as trying to go to bed unhappy. Your list of priorities change, your outlook evolves and your way of life can take some drastic adjustments, for you as well as those dependent on you.
We asked Rapti to write in a heartfelt, honest and real piece on her journey through this transition, in the hopes to shed truthful light on the realities and perhaps guide you through your decision:
When and why did I decide to take the plunge?
I think it was in Greece, in the ancient city of Athens.
Seated at the tiny round table that overlooked a typical Athenian street with a cuppa cuddled in the palms, the three of us – me, my elder sister and brother-in-law - were soaking the bustle of the city, watching clothes hanging from the balconies flutter and fidget as neighbours peered over to check out the foreigners or talk to each other, conversations from the street below reaching our ears, the smell of food wafting up from the roadside stalls… when she looked me square in the eye and asked, “How long?”
I didn’t need to ask what she meant.
My erratic behaviour over the past few days had made it evident that I was unwell. The mobile phone had become an appendage – clutched between fingers as I struggled to sleep, the focus of my attention during meals, making me jump at the smallest beep even when on a holiday. And anxiety had become my perpetual state of mind – battling an eating disorder, jolting at raised voices, migraines a regular phenomenon.
I was going through the motions, marvelling at the grand sites in the city I’d always wanted to visit… but it was half-hearted.
As dramatic as it may sound, I was on the verge of crumbling into nothingness. The strain of anxiety that I’d been born with and carried to adulthood had finally been triggered by the toxic environment at my workplace coupled with the pressures of ‘adulting’. The only thing that tied me to a slice of the world of journalism was the monthly message which read “salary deposited”.
“But is that enough?” asked my BIL.
It was not. Seated at that round table, I took one of the most difficult yet strangely liberating decisions of my life, one that saw me step out and away from a stable job and healthy salary.
It’s been three years since that day and I’ve yet to regret the decision.
It’s been three years of healing, learning to reidentify things that fire up my soul, find a way to make money from some of these and map the way towards a more fulfilling life.
The past three years have been challenging because trust me when I say, being a ‘freelancer’ or ‘self-employed’, juggling the roles of a content creator and home baker is no joke! Ask any of those who fall under these tags and they’ll tell you the same.
Setting up your own business, recognising the value (in kind) of your abilities and being assertive in the face of ‘bargaining’ is a task. And let’s not forget the time-effort-money it takes to set up your business from scratch, especially if you are a one-woman-army. There are bills to pay, networking to be done (which I still suck at), dealing with work requests, making invoices, handling clients that want to haggle, late payments and no payments, following up on clients who ghost you, friends & family waiting to judge you for something that is deemed ‘not normal’ in their books, the list is endless.
But what makes all this pain worth it, is when, at the end of the day, I know that the cake in the oven is for someone who understands and appreciates the effort of a customised, home baked confection. That the words I’ve drawn from years of experience as a journalist and editor are valued by another individual and their readers. It’s all worth the effort because at the end of the day, when I am pushing away from the computer or making that final trip out of the kitchen, I am tired to the bone but that tiredness is accompanied by a feeling of contentment and satisfaction that comes from doing what I am passionate about!
I don’t have a ‘set’ schedule and I don’t follow the ‘woke’ pace. Instead, I rejoice in the freedom to choose, to enjoy and set my own pace… for as the very smart Virginia Woolf said, “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself" - and that is what the goal remains.
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