I had never imagined that I would take up an office job — that too, after being only a home-maker for twenty eight long years.
It was not a conscious decision just to break away from the comfort zone. But it definitely was a big step, because it is not easy to take up a 9 to 5 job after spending 28 years in the confines of the four walls.
Someone informed about a vacancy in a science academic institute, and I thought of giving it a try. Almost all the family responsibilities were fulfilled by then, so why not? Of course, only my decision did not count here. I had already crossed 50, so any employer would have thought twice (or more) before appointing someone nearing retirement age. Luckily, they too did not have any issue with a 50+ worker.
Thus started a new phase of my life — balancing household work with an eight hour job. It surely wasn’t easy. The house-work, purchasing daily requirements etc., which earlier I could comfortably spread over a span of 8 to 10 hours, now I had to cramp it all within one and a half hour in the morning and 2 – 3 hours in the evening. This, while managing a demanding job in the 8 – 9 hours in between.
Along with the time crunch, the other major hurdle was commuting in Mumbai’s notoriously crowded local trains and buses, at the peak rush hours. It was difficult, however, I did manage, not for just days or weeks, but for four years.
The job itself wasn’t a cake-walk; it would have been foolish to expect it to be so. Though I had a masters degree in science, I had never put it to academic use. It was not just brushing up my knowledge, but also to learn many things anew. New type of work, new people and to learn and adjust to all this new environment — each thing was a challenge.
At 52, I was the oldest among all (including the employers), yet I was well-accepted by all; but still, there was quite some resistance and feeling of rivalry from a few whose work profile was similar to mine. Some even tried to create trouble for me. But things changed and later we all became so friendly that now years after me quitting the job, they are still in touch with me.
All in all, it was a great experience. I learnt a lot, I enjoyed even more. Most important, this experience helped boost my self esteem.
I would have missed out on all this, had I not taken the risk of stepping out of my comfort zone.