Friday, April 10, 2009

Planning for a year in the University

I am trying to do something brave - planning to go to university for a year. Yes, that's right - I may stop working for a year and live without income, and study. This is indeed counter-intuitive at my age. However, I think the recession has presented me with an excellent incentive to take a break.

Truth be told, I always wanted to do this. I always thought I need a restart in my career. A sort of change of direction from what I have been doing. In my career, one thing followed the other and I moved by default or following opportunities. However, I never had a chance to set my agenda or get something I like. I am hoping that by being brave and following my heart, I shall set that right now.

So, the plan is more or less final now. I exit employment at the end of August and join one of the business schools [there was an alternate thought, but now I zeroed on studying business] for a year. I can not possibly afford to live in London. Also, I would love to stay in one of the smaller university towns and adopt the lifestyle of a full time student.

I am sure this will be an interesting challenge because I have not lived without an income since 1992. This will surely mean a lot of lifestyle change and not having the liberty to hit the 'order now' button on Amazon as often as I do. This would mean scaling down everything that I live with, and cutting down on my trips abroad, which will automatically happen if I leave employment. Losing out on my Gold membership on various airlines will sure hurt - I am so used to the privileges these bring - as well as living in a student accommodation, which is different from my relatively comfy apartment.

Besides, this will be about studying with an objective, which I am not exactly good at. Meeting deadlines on studying is something I hate. While I read for pleasure all the time, I am not good at writing exams and following timeline. I am conscious of all this but still want to do it - for a reason.

This is because I feel I am at a creative threshold. I have been working for many years and do feel that I have improved as a person and has interesting new perspectives about life and work. I need a bit of space to formulate this knowledge and make it usable, for myself and for others. I do think the travel in the last couple of years, while adding significant learning and exposure, made me take my eyes off the ball. It did not help that I had to take more responsibility than I imagined having to do, or I wanted to. This emphasized my need to take a break and make a fresh start, even if that means gambling with a year of my life.

When I look back at these years later in my life, I may look at them with a certain sense of sorrow and loss. This is three years since my mother passed away and that event, in some sense, removed an anchor from my life. Till then, I had a certain sense of purpose - I was working to make her happy and proud. But after that, it was myriad things I had to be concerned with, not least of property and possession, and somehow lost my sense of direction. I made several mistakes during last three years, in my personal and professional life, and frittered away gains which I long accumulated and wasted relationships I worked hard to develop. At this time now, I feel insecure and uncertain, something that I never felt, and lonely, another new feeling after a lifetime of being busy in a large and involved family.

This realization, further, makes me crave for a fresh start. It isn't easy to be brave in life, and throw away whatever little security I have when I have started feeling so insecure. This also means cutting off my privilege of being in India once in a while - at least for an year - which will allow various property matters I have been trying to sort out drift and loosen my connection with my family and friends yet further. However, as I said before, I feel being at a creative threshold, a point in life where failure and loss gives way to new ideas and fresh start, and feel that this is my last chance to redeem myself in life. I have always been a bit of an idealist and a dreamer, and this time I feel a serious urge to reconcile my life that is with what it ought to be.

To be honest, I have not yet worked out what after the university. I am not sure a business career is right for me. I am possibly not ruthless enough for business and politics. But, may be, I have a different way of looking at things and bring new ideas to table all the time. This may help me build a consulting career, or even one in writing and teaching. Sure, this needs a certain level of discipline that I don't have, but this is something a year of studying with deadlines should teach me. Also, this one year, I am hoping, will free me up from my self-imposed limits of achievement and pre-set notions of what can and can not be done.

That, in summary, is why I am planning to take the plunge. Here, starting today, I shall keep posting about my journey.

2 comments:

Rakesh Poddar said...

Hello Supriyo,

We are connected to each other at Linkedin. Accept my congratulation for making this difficult decision. In my opinion it is eminently sensible - given the motivations and state of mind that have led to it. After all, you live only once.

I have myself considered such a step several times, for reasons quite similar to yours, but haven't got around to executing it, mainly due to the long and none-so-easy path to entry in a business school.

Regards and best wishes,
Rakesh

Supriyo Chaudhuri said...

Thanks Rakesh, for your kind words. It is indeed a difficult decision to make, but I thought I would never have a better time to take a break while the world economy recovers from its flu. I am more concerned whether I can mentally adjust to studying for exams again, as well as be able to keep myself away from pursuing opportunities and ideas for such an extended period of time. I chose to write about the whole exercise, as well as the experience when it comes to that, to keep sharing things with everyone else.

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