Gratitude is the first word that comes to my mind when one talks about scholarships. My entire education was sponsored by two families—Dr D K Srinivasan, who started the Hindu Mission hospital in Tambaram and has been awarded the Padma Shri, and his family, and by Lakshman V and his family. I could have pursued higher studies or attempted the civil services exam through these scholarships, but I decided not to.
I wanted my father, who was running an STD booth—the one painted in red and yellow that we don’t see nowadays—to virtually retire and relax at home; the business was slowly fading with the arrival of mobile phones, top-ups and recharges. He was unsure about what else he could do at that stage of his life as he was only great at running an STD booth, which he had done for almost two decades. Even I was clueless but there was one thing I was sure about: that it was time for me to take charge.
Thankfully, I got into one of the Indian IT giants with a decent pay package. For the first couple of years of my career, I was preparing for the UPSC exam along with work at office. But I failed to strike a balance. My preparation for the former was insufficient and my focus on the job was drifting due to the same reason. Meanwhile, my never-ending financial commitments were on top gear, while I was just trying to accelerate from neutral to first gear.
So I decided to let go of my dream of becoming an IPS officer and fully focus on the job at hand. It was 2010, two years since I joined the firm. The inevitable but unnecessary comparisons started as I evaluated my growth and that of my peers. But thankfully, I soon realised it was completely unnecessary as one has no clue about what the journey of another person is all about. We are just comparing our chapter X with someone’s chapter Y.
In essence, enjoy what you have, and be grateful for it, rather than focusing on what you miss. There is nothing wrong in letting go of some of your ambitions provided you stay ambitious enough to do something meaningful. Don’t compare yourself with others; as the saying goes, rather compare yourself with your former self. I will go one step further and say compete with your future aspiring self. You don’t need any inspiration if you are driven by your aspirations.