Bursting Bubbles

Digging things from my closet – this was drafted in January 2014. Tara was born in November 2014. And yes, I write more than I publish, and as I grow up, and feel more and more comfortable in my skin, I take the risk and publish – Here’s what I was thinking and feeling five years ago. I am glad to admit that I have continued to work on cool projects, and travel the world, and having my daughter was a pivotal moment in my relationship with myself, and the rest of the world.

Jan 11, 2014

I am not sure if I will ever publish this post. But it needs to be written. It is a story no one tells. It is a story no one will comprehend. The actors themselves don’t know how the evening of sheer celebration turned into one of the darkest nights of my career as a woman.

Last Thursday I was hanging out with some of my favorite people I work with. Let me introduce you to the characters –

  • M, the woman who has made my career at S. I owe her my freedom.
  • Mi, who claims to love working with me because she sees herself in me. She thinks she wants to sculpt me to her desired level of perfection. A phrase she uses every time we are in a room alone. She is not one of my favorites. But she is an honest woman and I respect her.
  • W, the guy who diffuses the air for me when I need it. I have never had to raise my voice, pick a battle or take sides on this team, because we share this insane chemistry. He just knows when to step in and make it all work out.
  • Y, the brain of my team. His designs solve and I make them sellable. We are two sides of the same coin.
  • Sa – She who loves me because I make her job easy. I know all the personal battles she is going through in her life and I protect her from the brutalities at the work front. I don’t know why I protect her. It might be because I know she is losing a father to death.
    and lastly,
  • Me – I am the heart of this team. .

We were celebrating W’s bday. His wife had flown in from out of town and we were all sharing a few drinks together on a rather cold night in San Francisco. A couple round of drinks and everyone’s true self was laid out on the table. We talked work, travels, family, pets, life and poetry. From W’s trip to Helsinki to M’s CIA Agent Dad, to Mi’s concern about drought and Sa’s dogs and paddle boats. Y and I usually listened when others around us were drunk. It’s a wise thing to do.

While W was describing a library in his home back in Arizona. I told him about our little library in Granada. We don’t need three rooms, so we converted the extra one into a work-room/library. I was a few drinks in myself and added, “but the only room in my house where a nursery will suit best is my library. That’s the room with all the sunlight. So I will have to move my books away some day.”

W laughed at me and said, “You are still young! Stop freaking me out.”

Later that evening, Me caught up on the thread and asked me, Shivam whats next on your planner. I responded confidently, “Kids”. A unanimous “awe” came from the ladies. Y and W gave a soft smile.

I did not want this discussion. Not with this group. I was uncomfortable. And I laughed out loud and said, “But that won’t happen until I have traveled to another 20 countries. And that’s a few years away.” I thought I had diffused the air.

There were a bunch of, “No what are you talking about”, and other loud disagreements. A few moments later Me added,”Oh dear, but on a serious note, just wait before you start planning. Think of Project X. Don’t you think we will golden by March next year? I will give you six months sabbatical on top of your mat leave. All on me.” W chimed in, “Yeah, that works – Project Y will be done by then too. I cannot think of it without you”.

I announced that it was time to change the topic. But the damage had been done.

What had just happened? I let some people from work tell me when I should plan one of the most important events in my life. Unintentionally these people became villains in my story. Did they even realize what they were saying and why? There is a predisposed notion that when you have kids you stop doing the cool projects. Or is there some truth to it? And having kids does not mean that you stop traveling around the world. Why did I use that excuse, out of all the lame excuses I could have come up with?

What is disheartening is that if we could not overcome the way our petty little minds are conditioned, working in Tech, in Silicon Valley, with collective pedigree that could solve world’s hunger problems. Then what should I expect from others?

The fact that we are not willing to give up on the old age notions, makes us part of the problem. What you read about in books and articles and TeD talks, just became a reality for me. Earlier it was something that was out there. Now it is in my face. I know that you can never have it all, at the same time. But I had only wished my bubble was made of people who were better than the rest of the world. It isn’t. My bubble had bursted.

When I told Agam last night that I need a kick ass vacation before I wrap it all up and take the plunge, once again, I drowned in the guilt of my own words. Wrap what up?

Why did I say “time to take a plunge”, and not “a time to soar”.. and rise above the roles I have been playing. It is not a step down. It is a step up. And even though I know that – I am so afraid of admitting it to myself, keep aside others, whom I will have to some day convince with my actions.

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