When a friend was going through some troubled times, we’d often take long walks to talk things out. I am not sure if any of those chats helped my friend, but they surely helped me learn a few things about myself, and clarified my views on some topics that had been rather blurry in the past. I decided to pen down some of the insights I shared with my friend that I believe are universally applicable.
One of the joys of parenthood is the drastic shift in your mindset. From an individualist, you become a member of something larger, a family. It is no longer about what I can or cannot do. It is what we can accomplish as a family. As an example, it is no longer an option for me to go back to my job in the city. Because we as a family will fail if I take that step. And in that decision, I find a lot of comfort and grace. I was not capable of making such decisions, before Tara.
I believe that a successful family creates space and time for each of its member’s individualistic ambitions and preferences. It is easier said than done. But that is the goal. Rather a stretch goal. I have seen some families accomplish that. And I am always inspired by them.
But this mindset shift is a challenge one must address, even before they become parents so that the transition is smooth when the time comes. Again, easier said than done.
When I think deeper on this topic, I reached a few conclusion. Bear with me as vomit a few words to get to the point –
When we are growing up we have one persona. We take that to school and we bring it back home. There is no confusion.
As we graduate to college, and in fact, it happens even sooner these days, we create another persona. This one is specific to college. It is easier to strike a balance between the two since we spend almost equal amounts of time in college and home. And home continues to be our anchor.
Then we reach adulthood and start working. We slowly craft another persona. Our workplace persona. This is defined by how we want people to perceive us at work. It is a set of personal and professional attributes that define our working style and ethic. It is our unique recipe for success. Over time we learn to tweak this persona to serve our best interests, professionally. I have one too. I apply a lot of rigor to all my projects, it is strenuous and exhausting, but it’s that pace that kicks my butt the best. I am also very terse in my responses to BS. It helps me navigate through politics.
But as we spend more and more of our wake up time at work, we focus more on the development of the professional persona. So much so that we even start bringing it home. We justify it by reminding us that it is successful at work, it should work here too. But it does not. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to blend the two personas from time to time to leverage the best from each world, and apply it to another. But one needs to be conscientious of that bleeding influence. Especially when it is in the direction ascribed.
At home we deal with our spouses, siblings, parents and children. Our abilities to influence without authority, and getting people to do things that they really don’t want to, and checklist style planning and rigor does not apply to them. They are not players in a game. They are partners in your life. They demand more respect and time, and a side of you that is crafted just to suit their needs. You can be, and should be more vulnerable when you are with them. The stone front is better suited for your professional environment. (Although in today’s day and age, I don’t recommend it). Performance measurement is not at an individual level, but at the family level. You cannot compare your contributions with the others’. Everybody gives. And in return gets the love, warmth and some times even space to grow and nurture yourself.
Unfortunately, when we are older, one size fits all, does not work. As compared to offices, homes need a lot more to run smoothly. We don’t replace people at home if things don’t work out. We create a safe space where things have a higher chance of working out.
I know this went deep. But it was overflowing, and I had to pour it out.