Welcome to the new year and a new decade! This is the time for reflection, of new resolutions and the hope that things will change for the better. So, I guess, it is a good time to write about change. Many of you may have been thinking of changing your lives for some time now. But perhaps have been hesitating to take that first step.
Despite wanting change, in reality, we are scared of the status quo changing. However unpleasant the current reality, we are at least familiar with it and have learnt (somewhat) how to manage it. But change….. whoa…. who knows what that will bring? Maybe the new boss would be worse – or my new business will fail – or maybe after the divorce I won’t be able to live alone. The fear of the unknown is the biggest contributor to inertia, I believe. And then of course there are our habits, the ones we keep planning to change but also keep putting off, year after year. Finally, many of us just don’t have the self-confidence to take that big leap. And status quo remains.
I am just like that. I am so scared of change that unless I know the next ten steps (ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration there), I cannot move. I need to have a plan and then a plan B and sometimes even a plan C – just to take care of my insecurities. Plus of course, my self-confidence often takes a big dive when confronted with change. I really admire those people who believe in “things working out by themselves” – because I just don’t have that kind of faith – not in God, not in life, not in chances.
But perhaps, I should say DID. Because about two years ago, I took the first step towards a change, that ultimately shifted the axis of my life. I took a leap – and to my surprise, a net appeared. And while I can’t say I have become a faithful – at least I now believe that our fears shouldn’t stop us from making that one move – because solutions will appear as long as we work towards them. So, here’s my story:
I moved my cheese – bag and baggage to Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2019. It started in the year 2017, a few months after I joined back office from maternity leave. I was still exhausted – the twin pregnancy seemed to have sucked out all my energy; I was in grief – one of my twins had been diagnosed with a type of brain damage and I was frustrated – there was a feeling of stagnation at work. My memories of those days are washed in grays – dark and gloomy. Some part of my brain told me I needed to get out of this. I needed change – to re-energise and bring out the real me. The real me was not used to living in grief, frustration and without any enthusiasm whatsoever.
In that state of mind, I started to look for jobs and ended up applying to a position, outside of India. I don’t know how I did that. I didn’t think of the fact that my husband couldn’t move with me, I didn’t think of the fact that I had infant twins and there was no way I could take them with me, I was not sure what I would do with my seven year old, and I didn’t think whether or not my parents would or could move with me. I didn’t think of any of the potential problems. I just applied. I took the leap.
A month down the line, I got the interview call. This time I did think – and I wasn’t at all sure how we would manage, if I ended up getting the job. I asked my husband. I asked my parents (they lived with me.). They all had just one thing to say. You go ahead – we will find a way.
A few months later, I got the offer. But by then, life had changed again. My dad, my pillar of support, had passed away. How could I move leavings three kids on my husband and mum? How would we manage? But my mum and husband reiterated – you go ahead, we will manage.
So I accepted, and as I moved step by step, things started to fall in place.
- My boss and I worked out an arrangement where I was able to work in both India and Central Asia while being based in Delhi for the first 8-9 months. This helped me set up domestic help and systems at home and see how things worked while I traveled for 10-14 days together.
- When my husband and I visited Almaty for the first time, we chanced upon a well-knit group of Indian expats and for the first time I felt I could move my mum and kids with me – and there would be a support system to fall back on.
- When I finally had to move, my husband could not come with me. A colleague offered to drive all the way from Bishkek to help me settle in the first few days. Her presence gave the much-needed cheer during those first few days of separation from the family.
- Back home, my husband, mum and in-laws formed a solid wall of support. When nani wasn’t there, dadi and baba left everything back home and rushed to take care of the children.
- A supportive office, new Indian friends, all helped me settle quickly and moreover gave me further confidence that I could think about moving family with me. We decided to move our 9-year-old to Almaty.
- And finally, when almost two weeks of back to back travel came up and I wasn’t too keen on leaving my son alone on a nanny – a friend and colleague offered to host my son at her place.
The change has not been easy – but solutions have emerged, whenever I needed them. Every big or little problem ultimately came with its solution. Maybe not always perfect, but enough that helped me operate. Today we are all in different places – but we meet often, my son loves his new school, I feel like a new person, my husband, mum, twins, in-laws, all have come and visited me and really enjoyed the new place. This change was huge and has not been without its teething pains, but we are all better for it. Our lives are fuller, richer.
The short point I am trying to make is that change is not necessarily something to fear. This experience has taught me a lot. I still plan, but somewhere along the way, I have learnt to trust life a little more. I have started to believe that as we forge our way ahead, different doors start to open, we only need to be vigilant enough to notice them.
The internet is full of stories of people, who decided enough is enough and made the plunge. Some stories for you here and here. Who Moved My Cheese is a simple story of the inevitability of change in our lives and the ways in which we can choose to respond to them.
So if you do want to make a change – make it now. If not now, then when? Embrace the change – invite the change. Grab that opportunity, take that tough decision, overcome those doubts. Get over that inertia.
Decide what you want to change. Your habits? Your job? Your body? Your spouse? A relationship? The current government? Your country? Why not? Go ahead and take that first step, don’t worry, the net will appear. “Leap and the net will appear – John Burroughs”
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