20something profile: Aparna
Some people know what they want to do when they are twelve (or eight) and follow their heart. They get a degree and work in the field, climbing the ladder and leading super-successful lives. I am NOT one of those people.
From a childhood dream of being a dog psychologist to the media, ending up as an aspiring art historian, I tried my hand at several things! An undergrad degree in journalism, a master’s in art and aesthetics, I worked in the radio, wrote for newspapers, even took a shot at corporate communications one summer.
It was in Paris, and I had the time of my life. Imagine, 20 years old, in PARIS!!! Museums, art, culture, travel, glamour: I loved it all, but my work, while fun, was not something I wanted to do long term. But the experience, it was priceless.
Post college, I worked at some of the best media houses in India, producing news, reporting and anchoring. No matter where I was, a familiar feeling kept creeping up: a vague discontent. The money was good, the work interesting, but I always wanted to quit and try something else. Something exciting.
So, once, I shaved my head and went to Rishikesh, a town on the banks on the Ganges, and river rafted for a few months…a short stint at a museum in Mumbai and one at a friend’s start up followed. Somewhere along the way, I learned yoga, meditation and to read tarot cards. The choices seem random, but one thing always led to the next.
What’s next, you wonder? I have been travelling, across India and abroad too. Any excuse works — weddings to keeping lonely relatives company, even an epic road trip to drop a car off! A small bag of clothes, loads of books and a camera. Travel, make friends, move. Read, laugh, sample local cuisine, explore ancient architecture, meditate. Have a blast.
In India, this is a footloose lifestyle. My parents, extended family and friends are bewildered at the floating nature of life. In a conversation (on the eve of my 27th birthday), my very successful cousin figured it out: I am an experience chaser.
I realise work environments change. Economies collapse and ‘happening’ careers become passé. Each job becomes mundane and every one gets bored. What is important is to do what you love. Finding what you love, letting go when the time comes. Budget. Be honest to yourself about your abilities, output and satisfaction.
Only you are responsible for your happiness and you have to work at it.
Change things that don’t help, work to get to wherever you want to be. Exercise.
Don’t only read about writing. Write.
I still can’t convincingly answer the loaded question: what do you do? What I do isn’t limited to my current job/status/designation/salary. It is not about where I am headed (if at all), it is not where I want to be…it is what I read, who I meet, how I spend the nights when I can’t sleep, it is what I daydream about. I check boxes, cross out items from wish lists that are never-ending!
Tolkien said, “Not all those who wander are lost.” I may be lost, but the journey is worth it!