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  • Laxmi Nayak

Poster Child for Failure




I believe I'm a poster child for failure. What a thing to be right? I will tell you though that I'm also incredibly happy. And that's the conundrum - do we really need to be successful to be happy? Do we really need to tick off a bucket list or checklist to be happy? I think not, and I'm attempting to tell you my failure story.


In school, I fell in the average student bucket. My parents didn't get called to school but there were also no superlatives coming my way. My brother was a superstar student. There was a look of great expectation and admiration every time a teacher found I was his sister. The looks normalized when they realized I was nothing to write home about. And I was ok with that (still am). I did not have a point to prove. Accolades never came my way, so I didn't learn the secret yearning for them.


All that changed in college when suddenly in the commerce stream I found that I was among the top 10 in my classes. I didn't do anything extra. It didn't feel like it because I enjoyed my classes. And it all felt easy. This continued with my bachelor's degree. I made some incredible friends during my masters in communication and I was having way too much fun to care about the B's.


The thing is, I wasn't ambitious. I had no clue what to do with life. I wanted to be a surgeon as a kid - that was before I realized I disliked science. So yet again, while I did well in the final semester (I loved the subjects) and pulled my grades overall, I didn't know which way to go.


I was overconfident during placements and when things didn't go through, I didn't lose hope. I figured something would come my way. I started with events and then moved to corporate life where I felt like a young star who would rise the career path. I found ambition, and the need to do more. I switched jobs to find a faster pace of work, but alas I left the quality of work behind. I had lucked out in my previous corporate role and then luck ran out. I grasped various roles. I became less optimistic than before, as though life had given me a bad deal.


I wish I could tell the younger me to keep going, to not lose hope. That you have to plan things before jumping into action. At times I feel my bias for action makes me perfect for Amazon (LOL).


Somewhere along the line, I got married, and I moved cities and looked for the perfect marketing roles. But something was broken in the way I approached job search and life. I felt like I was losing. I decided an MBA at ISB would brighten things and put me on the right path. I prepared, and I got in. I had a gala time at ISB. I loved learning. I love the classroom experience. I made some amazing friends. During placements, I was laid back. Initially, I thought I was a shoo-in for the roles I applied to. I completely disregarded Porter's five forces; specifically competition. I didn't prepare. I lost out. And that made me scared and judged (mainly it was me judging myself) and disillusioned.


I wasn't too keen on the placements that did happen but I took them on anyway because there was a loan to pay. And also - why aspire for an MBA if the end goal is to do nothing!


Here I am 4 years post MBA where I've quit my job and am contemplating never going back to corporate life because there's a barrier in my mind that says corporate life is not for me. I want to focus on writing but I refuse to make it a routine, a discipline. I'm writing this because I have incredible friends who ask me if I'm writing.


There's another thing. I know writing, much like anything else, is about practice. It's about turning up. And I refuse to do that. Because even when I don't admit to it, I fear I'll get nowhere with writing. I won't get published. A story I've been working on has potential but is languishing as an incomplete word document.


I tell myself you won't know unless you try! That fear is no way to live. That one path left behind is not failure but simply closing a door and finding another one that will lead to something different. Who cares if that does not lead to success? I will be living my chosen life and that's plenty.


I love reading, and I'm doing so much more of that. I read cos I enjoy it, but I also read to learn about writing. And that makes me happy.


The thing about happiness is you find it when you're least expecting it. My partner and my family and friends are supportive. That means the world to me.


I found peace when I accepted who I am. There's a line that keeps coming up when it comes to self-esteem and self-worth - YOU ARE ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH.


Once I realized I have nothing to prove, I breathed easier. A lot of qualms and judgments in my mind are the ones I've created. Maybe a lot has to do with conditioning - we're told success is everything, being someone in life is the end goal, the path to satisfaction is determination and achievement. And it is, for a whole lot of folks. It's simply not my path. I'm still figuring what I want, and meanwhile, I intend to write and get better at writing because that's what I love and want for myself.

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