Rich or Happy

Rich or Happy

This post is deeply philosophical. My grasp of philosophy is not that good, but I am going to try it out anyways.

I have been thinking about this for several months now. (Maybe 3 months or so). What is really important in life? Is it paycheck, bank balance or happiness and opportunity to spend your precious time with loved ones?
Wait for a moment before you even think about blurting an answer. If you are in a stable and well paid job like me, practical answer would be to earn bi-weekly paychecks and be rich (I mean not really rich, but well to do). But are you going to be happy with it? At least I am not. How many of us working in stable job would leave it for the sake of doing something you love? By happiness I don't mean just leave the job and collect your social security paychecks.

It means having courage to leave the stable work and do something exciting and adventurous. Needless to say, being an adventurous has its cost. You can lose your life or in other words you can die due to hunger, thirst or cold (Winter is really bad in most of the United States) since you are no longer earning. I tried thinking it that way lot many times, but looks like I don't have enough courage (Censored). Not that I like stable and boring life, but if I ever decide to abandon it - What next? I am not Zuckerberg, Gates, Branson or Page-Brin. These guys dropped out, put themselves in dire jeopardy and succeeded. But I am not one of them. (Again!) Reason being I am not as hardworking, intellectual or creative as they were (are). Plus when people give you one such example, there are millions of examples of people who left their stable life but got no where. So that's another side of the coin.

Being a software engineer, I would call it a back-end where everything looks miserable and practical. While front-end, that all looks glossy, shiny and fairy-tale like

I turned 27 last year and still my life remains as mediocre as it could be. I completed bachelors, came to US, got the masters, doing a fine job in health care sector. But is this my goal of life? Not really. Several months straight in the line, I am following exactly same daily routine. Though I strongly (Really really) decided to change my trajectory few months ago, (That is when my problem really started) I tried really hard but could not go anywhere else. (I am not going to blame it on bad luck. You are the creator of your own destiny. If you can't find a good destiny, it's you who is at the fault. Nobody else. Stop excusing yourself.)

Now I recall my life where I was in early 20s and I met several people in late 20s or early 30s. They were regretting about their life for not doing anything significant. They were married, had kids and still not contended. But the very responsibility of driving family stopped their ability to do something extraordinary. I had talk with many of them and I tried my best to encourage them to learn and climb the ladders of success. Now this is the biggest irony. I am in their shoes. (Though not married! What a big relief) And I lost my passion too.

Indeed I want to get out of the comfort zone, but then what? It's like saying get out of your comfy house in -40F on harsh winter night and start building your own house. How am I going to survive in such a harsh weather? Let alone building a house. But no, that is not a positive talk. But get the hell out of your comfortable zone and then decide your next move.

Am I really going to do something or keep earning paycheck until I turn about age of 60. (Not sure if they would need Software Engineers by then. Maybe AI can write self maintaining code and no human intervention is needed at all) Plus some of my salary goes to 401k, majority to Federal taxes, mortgage and rent. (In fact my rent is more than mortgage amount. Oh, and I am also looking for roommate. Fair housing you know)

That would not work, the thought of living penniless life just crushes me in the middle of night. There should be some practical way to utilize the skill and earn what you deserve. But each time I take any career related decision, I am thwarted by the thought - Will it make any problems with my visa status? Will it cause any issue getting the Green Card in future? Really? Was that something god had in mind when he created me? That, ok this guy should be able to get Green Card by 2025. Not at all. I think I need to look beyond these psychologically created hurdles. They are not hurdles, they are like a boogie man. A figure which scares the hell out of kids, but is altogether imaginary. (I haven't seen boogie man, but nevertheless if you have seen the one, let me know. I will update this post accordingly)

Back to my story - Things are getting really worse. I think my patience has an end. It doesn't matter if you enjoy 100 delicious dishes, if 101st dish is poisoned, then it doesn't matter how many delicious dishes you were served. single poisonous dish spoils the whole party. And I am really getting tired of that 1 dish now. Though it means to sacrifice first 100 ones.

It doesn't mean that I have always met people who did not have burning desire to achieve distinction. There is one guy who left IIM-Kolkata to pursue his career in mathematics, other guy who rejected a big offer from Canadian startup and started his own company. Though this guy did not succeed in his attempt, he started 2 more companies and cashed in on that publicity. Now he works as a project manager at medium sized start up in the Mumbai suburb. He got a good experience and followed his passion rather than getting stuck in ordinary life.

I mean really, how many of us would leave the big buck paying startup jobs and rather invest in their own company?

I talked to this guy couple of months back. Though his startup failed, he is happy with the experience and even better, he was saying that with that experience he can build and nurture 10 more startups. Now that's the spirit I am talking about. I wish I had 1% guts he has.

And to quote an anonymous entrepreneur, You have come to this world to make a dent in the universe. If you think you got a talent, why not harness it? Even not, why not take risks which would pay off? After all the people try to achieve an excellence and then cash it off.

But, what if you can do something you like, earn money even if it's less than what you are earning, what's the harm? Even when you do something you love, you can earn more and then it's double payback. One day, dear Lord. One day.

And I am afraid that one day will never come. I am already 27 is glad to say I still have time to make that difference. Question is when. Enough of lecturing others about turning their life upside down. It's a sheer irony if I am not able to follow that by myself.

To summarize, yes there is something provoking me to take an irreversible and determined action. And I don't need to think about any thing other than that. It's been several months and if I don't act, I am cheating on myself. Wish me best luck. Remember, the place where you begin your journey does not matter. It's all about confidence, determination, motivation, passion, skills and negotiating power. (I think last one matters the most since in the real world, there is always a danger lurking beneath the surface. You don't need to kill it. Just learn to manipulate it until your work gets done)

Some notes on the rambling

  1. This post is inspired by the Quora answer to this question. How is the life of a woman without marriage?. You can find detailed answer on This page written by Apurva Gayakwad. How she was unhappy and miserable during couple of years of marriage. In spite of being a lawful wedded wife, she was forced to live the life of typical maid without any pay. she finally got guts to stand up for her right and apply for divorce. Now, if you are not aware of Indian culture, divorce is big deal in India, especially for women with or without kids. Due to typical Indian mentality, life becomes miserable to single women / moms. I salute to this lady that she showed guts to stand up for herself. Her answer has deeply moved and inspired me to take forward steps with my life direction. If I ever succeed in those, I will me emotionally indebted to her forever. And if I do not, that would really hurt me since I spent last 1 hour writing this post plus I would then be shedding crocodile tears

  2. Though it might mean from the post, I am not really unhappy with my current life. Nice apartment, awesome family and supporting colleagues. The only thing I am really scared of is inability to take risks and living complaisant life for rest of the years and then living hand to mouth when I am old. Now it the time to do something dynamic and take advantage of surplus energy.

Speaking of surplus energy, I have List of resolutions for year 2016. That is just a list since if everything goes right and if I am loyal to myself, I will be able to achieve most of them within first 6 months of 2016.