Being the harsh critique that I am of myself, I am quick to point out the mistakes and wrong choices that I have made in life – as I type this, I have to resist the temptation to list them, partly because that is not what this post is aimed at, but more because it would become a very large list. I have never thought about the right choices I have made in life. In fact, considering that my clan is not extinct yet, I must have made some good choices, no?
Some of the choices have been small – such as choosing to let go of my youth conviction of beauty-parlors-are-demeaning-to-women (I must have been one of the very few brides in India who was less made up than the guests at her wedding), in favour of availing of professional services to pamper myself with a monthly pedicure, and an occasional facial. There have been a few rare life-altering decisions that had been easy to make – such as marriage, but some other choices have been very difficult, and didn’t seem like the right choice at that time. Time has, however, justified such choices.
The first difficult choice that I had to make was to quit my PhD. I could not give a rational reason for why I wanted to quit – I was doing well in the program, I had passed the qualifiers, my research was going good and I was due to present my first seminar in a week. As I was putting together material for my seminar, an overwhelming feeling of pointlessness swept over me. It was foolish to quit at that point – I had a valid visa to stay in the US, my advisor was a soft-spoken and friendly man, but I just couldn’t continue with a research that seemed to have no relevance to the world or even myself. It didn’t seem right. Despite everyone pointing out that I was making a foolish decision, I yielded to my gut feeling, defended my research for a Masters’ degree and got out of grad school. The next few years were tremulous – the job market in the US was shaky and I went through some difficult times, to put it mildly. But through all that, I never once believed that I had made a mistake in quitting my Ph.D. The fact that I eventually got a job I love, in due course, is moot.
The next difficult choice was along the same lines. Eight months into my marriage, living in the US and a with a blob of foetal cells in the uterine oven, we had to choose between raising the family in the US or India. Both sides had equal advantages and disadvantages. After months of talking, arguing and fighting (and vomiting through the first trimester), we decided to return to India. Interestingly, I was the one that resisted the move, but now, I am the one that won’t budge out of India (my better-half often wistfully stares towards the west even now) – this is home and coming back was the best decision of my life.
All though my pre-marital life, I was sure of two things – that I would be married. And I would have many children. Even as long as I was pregnant, I believed that this was going to be the first of many pregnancies to follow. But by the time I was ready to start the oven again, I had made my choice (supported of course by my partner in crime) to stop with one. As cliched as this may sound, my decision was not made for me, my family, or my only child, but for my country. With India bursting at its seams, it was just unfair to add to her burden. I don’t regret this decision either.
A fourth decision was made more recently. It is way too personal to put out in a public domain. It has been, by far, the toughest decision I have made yet. Since it has been made fairly recently, it still feels raw and scary but as before, time would prove to me that I was right.
Have you made a decision in your life that seemed illogical at that time, but proved to be right later?