Year 2015 – Phew!!

2015 has been the wildest roller coaster of my life so far. Just incredible. Considering that my current state is a relatively happy one, the year is worth a storied post on this blog. I am not sure where to start or end – should I put it chronologically or through the wavy ride of emotions?

The start of the year was gut wrenching bleak. When I look back at what I was going through, I am amazed at my own inner belief and strength. I wasn’t brought up to deal with such tough times. I hurt a lot of people during that time period, none more than myself. I felt and still feel guilty of hurting my loved ones. However, I was mostly alone in that period. I still don’t know if I could have done anything better to handle the situation. I still shiver remembering the pain I suffered then and somehow I dealt with it. Books and music were my closest friends. They didn’t suppress my emotions but let me swim through the emotional waves.

The experience changed me. For better or worse remains to be seen. I was always an independent living life on my terms – but the experience walled me inside even further. Very few people remain in my life now to whom I can open up completely. I am blessed to have such 4am friends in my life, however few they are.

One final failed attempt in January allowed me to finally close the chapter, however, heart breaking it was. I did not have any more energy left to deal with the craziness. I finally steered my life ship around after numerous failed attempts. I hurt a couple more people before I finally met someone truly nice and special. Just a gem of a person. I feel so lucky to have her in my life now. Touchwood!

Even that wasn’t smooth sailing for a long stretch of the year. Somehow, possibly due to my past ¬†experiences and more so because of my trust in her, I never panicked. I was silently confident that things would work out when they could have easily fallen apart. Things were quite tense at times. But her courage and love showed the way. It is kind of funny – she believes in destiny while I do not. However, she is not the one to just sit on the side and let destiny play itself out – she stood up for our love time and again; and even more so when even I thought she would succumb to the pressure. I feel like just applauding her efforts. She handled the tense situations incredibly well. I trust her and love her more than anything now. I would do my best to never hurt her and always keep her happy.

Obviously, I have to thank my parents as well. I haven’t been the best son to them over these tough times, but they have been incredibly supportive and patient especially in the last six months. I hope things to settle down and get better in the future. Another round of thanks to my bhaiya and bhabhi – they are always there for me. No words would suffice or do justice to their love and support.

The story has moved forward very quickly in the last couple of months, and things now finalized between the families as well. I have been communicating with her family now over the last one month and it has been just great. They have made me feel so comfortable. I am so much looking forward to this new phase of my life. Again touchwood!

While all this was going on, I realized with my half baked application from last year, I could have a shot at applying to INSEAD MBA for 2016 entry. I thought the timing could probably work out well as we both would then graduate in 2017. Frankly, the idea was to stay busy outside work. I never gave myself much of a chance.

Before the application, I had started spending lot of time to create more structure in my life to stay productive. For example, the idea of flexing the idea muscle. Or even reading ‘waitbutwhy’ posts.

So when I started the application process, those examples gave me frameworks to apply and go to the bottom of my heart and mind. I believe that effort poured out into the essays to some extent. It led me to the interviews. The whole time I was immersing myself in productive activities such as reading about exciting futuristic technologies or TEDTalks etc. The research on the interviewers and the significant interview preparation gave me enough self confidence and belief to ace the interviews. The whole journey began with a half-wish but when on December 16th, I saw a call from +33 number, my heart skipped a beat. I rushed to end the meeting I was in, and when I got another call from that number, I rushed to pick it up. I do not remember listening anything after CT said ‘congratulations’. I was elated. After the heart breaks from 2013-2014, I finally have an offer to a business school. Touchwood, again!

Last but not the least, I should definitely mention the work at Pfizer. It has really been a great learning experience for me with all its ups and downs. The mundane cubical life definitely pales in comparison to my outside work activities this year, where I have not even talked about tennis, hiking, skiing, Lake saranac camping and the best of all, the backpacking trip.

2016 is going to be a crazy year. Hopefully all good for a change. While my finances are expected to take a major hit due to the MBA, I expect it to be worth the intangible experience and the fascinating people I would meet from all over the world. More importantly, I will not be a bachelor by next summer. I am incredibly excited!

Pursuit of Happiness or Pursuit of Meaning?

Why am I being so fickle? From the highs of getting admission at INSEAD just a couple of days ago, to the current state of frustration is so puzzling.

During the application process, I kept pushing aside my true feelings of whether I want an MBA or not so I could focus on the application. I thought I could make that decision if and when I get the admission. However, during the process, I probably faked the ‘why mba’ question so well that I actually started believing in it.

So here I am – with an admission offer for a year to spend across France and Singapore. Is it the opportunity my quarter-life crisis is desperately waiting for to open myself to a plethora of opportunities and make life more meaningful? Or would it just be a wasteful exercise and just dialing back my career by a couple of years?

Let me put it this way for you Nikhil – if money was not an issue, would you go? Yes absolutely. The answer is obvious. It would be an exciting adventure and just homage to one of my favorite life quotes – ‘it is not the number of years you live, it is the life you live in those years’. I would meet a ton of interesting people from all walks of life. There would be fun, studying, friendships, hardships, success, failures. It will add so much to my life experience.

So – the simple answer is yes. I will go ahead and join INSEAD no matter the associated financial costs. What I have to ensure is that I maximize my experience. I have to be fully committed to study and network inside and outside the classroom.

I have to accept that INSEAD or even marriage is clearly not the final destination. Frankly, there is no final destination. The acceptance of life as is, and enjoying the journey with its ups and downs, would lead to inner peace and satisfaction. Continuing to challenge the status quo and building upon new ideas will be the cornerstone of flexing my brain muscles.

Broadening my perspective to understand the same problem from different viewpoints would open new doors, and possibly some of those would lead to even more doors and one of them just might capture my true imagination as my life’s meaningful pursuit. So cheers to a life in pursuit of meaning rather than happiness!

 

Strength to endure pain!

Good times fade away the bad memories. However, after going through long periods of struggle that at one point never seemed to bottom, I appreciate the current good times. On one hand, I stress to not take anything for granted though I realize my basic nature and associated feelings are still intact. I have not changed drastically as a person. So while I intend to not over rejoice at the good times, on the other hand, I hope I won’t be too dejected at the failures.

I have realized how critical it is to capture my thoughts straight away at times. Otherwise, I lose the right feeling. For example, I wanted to express my feelings about pain and failures a couple of hours ago. However, after talking to the special someone, I feel lighter and that prior emotion has bubbled away to a corner.

Things have been progressing pretty nicely on the personal front – touchwood. At work, it hasn’t been fun – I am kind of surprised I didn’t realize this earlier, but I cannot be working in this job profile anymore. It is stagnant and boring. I can make efforts to expand and do more interesting stuff but 80% of my role would still be the same. I just hope the next few days are positive as they have the potential to change my future. If it doesn’t happen, I have to make my future happen. Be proactive and explore other opportunities.

Either way, I hope the experiences especially the incredibly heart breaking 2014 have made me stronger as a person to deal with future disappointments. I am going to take more concrete actions moving forward. One of the highest priority ones is going to ‘become the fittest I have ever been’. I will go to gym daily if not twice. Improve my diet and just eat healthy. It is not just to look better but also to avoid the sort of skin outbreaks I have been having recently.

Upwards and onwards! Cheers!