“Tum tou larkiyo se bhi ziyada nazuk ho, tumhay tou larki paida hona chahiye tha”.
These were the soul-crushing, not to mention sexist, remarks that my first cousin expressed upon hearing news of my resignation from what was touted by many as the 'dream job' at the time of my joining.
After resigning from two achi naukris within a period of six months, I had earned a new identity from friends and family: the quitter.
But can I blame them? Not really.
I am always looking for ways to escape responsibility, commitment, intimacy, decision-making; simply taking any initiative at all.
No matter how hard I try, I find myself jumping from one job to another, unable to commit for longer periods, despite the sincerity of intention. I don't know why, but all these jobs, though they appear all exciting and promising at first, turn out to be my most horrific nightmare as soon as the honeymoon period ends and the realities of the workplace catches up.
“Thori bohat baatein tou har jaga sunni parti hain.”
There comes my cousin's final judgment. Although I have long been at the receiving end of such brickbats from friends and siblings, this one left me utterly gutted.
Also read: I didn’t want them to think I was crazy...
Obviously, no one wants to be labelled a 'wuss', no matter how callous or indifferent they pretend to be on the outside. And it seems possessing sentiment or emotion is a crime for the men in our society, which expects some sort of impervious strength from them at all times.
Nevertheless, after my cousin's hurtful words, I decided I had to turn a new leaf. So I finally set to figuring out what was really going on with me.
Why does that intrinsic motivation to do what I actually want to be doing, keep slipping away?
Why can I not start a project, a hobby, a fitness plan despite knowing all the required steps to be undertaken?
Why am I intentionally choosing to not succeed and to be a socially inept loser?
Why I cant I just not step out of my comfort zone and break the tether of my routine prison?
En route to discovering the answers, I additionally discovered that I was not alone – around one-third of young Pakistani career-seekers suffer from the same problem.
However, the causes may vary from case to case; sheer laziness, job-personality mismatches, lack of long-term planning and most of all, passive-aggression, which experts believe can mess up your mind and habits to an extent where you forget what it was that you originally wanted to be/do.
Chrissy Scivicque in her blog Are You A Job Hopper? 3 Reasons Why You Can’t Stick It Out” says:
“Younger people especially who are going through a process of self-discovery tend to bounce from job to job as a way of exploring their options. When you don’t have a lot of experience, it’s hard to know what you’ll enjoy. Right after college for example, many people spend a few years in a state of transition. Job hopping during this period of time is nothing to worry about; it’s quite normal. Sometimes, the only way to know what you want in your career is to try a variety of things to determine what you don’t want."
She further adds that people usually fail to use an appropriate level of discretion in their job search and simply accept the first job that offers them a decent paycheck. Then, they end up in a role that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy them on any deeper level. So, very quickly, they find themselves back in the job market.
As far as procrastination is concerned, there are plenty of resources and self-help literature (both print and online) available for those who want to help themselves. Many motivational speakers out there seem to have a lot of fans, people who succeeded with their mentors' career advice in fulfilling long-held dreams they had forgotten in a bid to fit into a profoundly sick society.
Read on: Ward off your blues
The problem for me and many others is that all this motivational spark does not last more than a day; willpower boosts fail to produce any magic in the face of the myriad distractions that newsfeeds, updates, 'last seens', breaking news and all the sensual machine-gunning that technology has introduced into our lives.
It is inescapable, suffocating and ceaseless.
As for the phenomenon called passive-aggression, that behaviour is an indirect expression of anger and envy towards a certain authority, which results in deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is responsible.
It occurs most frequently in the workplace, where resistance is exhibited by such indirect behaviours as procrastination, forgetfulness, and purposeful or intentional inefficiency, especially in reaction to demands by authority figures. In this mode, people are perennial pessimists and regard every requirement and assigned task as an imposition. They resent authority figures (boss, teacher, parent-like spouse), feel enslaved by commitment, and oppose relationships that bind them in any manner.
And that is exactly my case.
Dredging up memories from childhood or stories I heard from my parents, I learned that I have always been this resentful toward anyone or anything that didn't serve me right. There is a list of things that I abandoned just because I didn't find them all that appealing, despite the pressures exerted by parents, teachers or at large by society itself.
For this, I have been called a lot of things. I have been lectured and tortured on a daily basis. Fortunately, I have grown to reason, to respond and to appropriately express my point of view.
Now that I have discovered why I cannot stick to a job, I have decided there is one thing I am never going to give up on: my mental peace. I am going to leave every job that I hate, I would happily do odd jobs for a living and I won't apologise for who I am and for my decisions.
I know people around me (like my cousin) will get upset at me for not living by the society's 'standards', but deep down, I am certain they wish they had the courage to do the same. This very feeling is so liberating.
For all the 'screw-ups' like me out there, I am quoting some words from Chetan Bhagat's famous novel Five Point Someone: What not to do at IIT upon which the Rajkumar Hirani's 3 idiots is also based:
“There is no point in having a good job or a fabulous career if your life becomes a living hell, there is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts, there is no point in getting a promotion on the day of your break-up, there is no joy in shopping if your brain is bursting. Life is like one of those races in nursery school where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth, if the marble falls there is no point in coming first.
“Same is with life where your health, relationships and mental peace are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive will start to die. One thing about nurturing the spark: don't take life seriously as we are really temporary here. We are like a prepaid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years and that is just 2,500 weekends.So, don't be serious, be sincere.”
If you wish to live the life you want, you have to leave behind the life you don't want.
And trust me, you know what you want. Let no one decide that for you.