11 Mar 2021

I have a house-help, who is a young lady of about 24-25 yrs.  We have limited interaction, as she comes for about 30 mins early morning.  One day, she missed work and when she came the next day, I was enquiring on the reason.  She went on to explain a bit about herself, her family etc.  Here’s her little story and my inspiration to #choosetochallenge, hopefully yours too!

She hails from a humble background.  Is married and lives in a joint-family.  So apart from, doing the job, taking care of the large family is a default expectation.  She is a graduate and is extremely keen to study further and take up a job as a teacher.  While these are aspirations, dreams…her financial status is not very conducive not just for her to pursue her dreams but even to have a better life.  This led her to take up odd jobs, which also landed her at my home.

With all the financial struggles she is fighting, she has not given up on her personal dream and #Choosetochallenge!

It was heartening to hear of the support she has from her husband; he has taken a stand for her, supporting her in achieving her dreams.  Together, they have a plan.  She is applying for her Masters, will stay in a hostel, focus completely on her studies; post completion of her masters, she will take up the job she has always wanted – Teaching!  Instinctively and meekly enough to not hurt her self-respect, I offered to help, and her instantaneous response was a very mild – “No Madam. I am ok.” – with a bright smile!

After this little conversation, she went on to do her chore, leaving me thinking!

What she and her husband are doing, might look a bit easier.  Many of us, as parents, from very early age of our child/children, plan on sending them out of home for higher studies, jobs etc..  In many countries/communities, after a certain age kids not living with parents, is sort of a norm or even an expectation.  Nuclear families are becoming more common around the world.  Taking care of family, kids…is a default, especially for women, in many countries.  Even for the married individuals, pursuing their dream is not so much of a challenge.  More often than not, for women, pursuing their individual interests, higher studies, taking a job, being an entrepreneur become a second priority and are left to be a dream.

This little life experience only re-emphasized that taking steps out of the norm is not easy, but the satisfaction at the end of this road is worth all the efforts!

My specific learnings from the quick ~5 mins conversation with her –

  • We all dream, big or small, easy or difficult to achieve, but we dream.
  • Some of us are lucky enough to be able to make our dream a reality, more easily than others, as the river of life flows.
  • Few of us, give up and sadly enough, let the dream, be a dream.
  • But there are those few, who fight the battles, take the path less trodden, do what is not the norm in their ecosystem, #Choosetochallenge, pursue their dreams and make them a reality!
  • Never give-up on your dreams; Challenge the status quo, take a stand, give it your best and remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel!

As individuals, the easy way out of a difficult situation is to give-up, accept life as-is and move-on; Difficult path to pursue is, to challenge the system, the norm, pursue that difficult dream and turn it into reality.  But, once we have this attitude, being the change, we want to see, in our world, will not be a distant dream.  Women will no longer need to fight for themselves and men, like my house-help’s husband, will be more common in our world!

Take a moment, look around…. and you will find yourself surrounded by #inspirations!  Life stories of people who #choosetochallenge. People and their individual experiences inspire us to do better each day, to compete with our yesterday’s version…and be a better person tomorrow.

On #IWD2020, let us all, pledge to support each other in our battles and be enablers in achieving our dreams!  Let us #Choosetochallenge the norm and play our role in the pursuit of a more gender equal world, in the real sense!

Would also like to share that the inspiration for this blog, my house-help, quit all her household jobs and has taken that first step towards her dreams!  And, believe me, for the first time, I am not disappointed or frustrated with the quitting of my house-help!  Rather I am happy for her and my sincere best wishes will always be with her!

–ByMeenakshi Virani 

Authors bio:

HR professional and Leader, with over 2 decades of experience, with Masters in MBA
from Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning.Experience in entire gamut of HR domain activities covering Recruitment, Talent Management, Talent Development, Leadership Development, Mentoring, Program Management etc. Have successfully led and been part of Global, Country, Business Unit level strategic projects in the areas of – employee integration, HR automation, women development etc.
Worked with organizations like Tesco, Supervalu India, TATA Consultancy Services and
Continental. Last role was with Continental, as Head of HR for their largest R&D Center,
in Bangalore. Currently – associated with WICCI1 Karnataka Mentoring and Soft skills council as a state council member; An NGO, involved in mentoring aspiring women entrepreneurs;

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