Authenticity. Self-expression. Fulfilment.
I recently updated my Linkedin profile after a gap of many years. As I was going through my career trajectory of two decades, from my first job as a financial auditor to now, I reflected on what this journey meant for me. As soon as I thought of this, the title of Victor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search For Meaning” came to mind.
Yes, the entire journey has been a quest for meaning. To realize what is truly important for me. It has also been the journey of becoming conscious of what is my authentic self-expression, what gives me joy and what kind of work environment suits my sensibility. My journey can be divided into three stages: Unconscious, Subconscious and Conscious.
When I completed my graduation I had no idea what I wanted to do. Since most of my classmates were pursuing Chartered Accountancy I simply followed them. This was the stage of utter psychological darkness. I had no idea about my natural self-expression. I had no idea that there was something such as natural self-expression. I had no idea what I wanted to offer the world and what the world had to offer me.
All I wanted to do was be part of the crowd. There was comfort in being part of the herd, even though I had no idea where the herd was going. All of us wanted a good degree, a good job and a good salary. I doubt any of us did any psychometric profiling to identify our interests or capabilities before making a choice of what we wished to pursue. We were simply driven by our fear of being left behind.
I was overjoyed when I became a Chartered Accountant. I was thrilled when I landed my first job in a big firm. I was ecstatic when I got my first five figure salary. And I was depressed when I started my first work assignment. I simply wasn’t good at it. I could pass a professional exam on the basis of memory and hard work, but I could not force myself to develop a liking for something that did not come naturally to me.
I had spent my whole education becoming a fake version of myself.
One day I happened to look at my cupboard where I stored all my books. I saw my CA journals neatly stacked, unread at one corner of the cupboard. Whereas books on spirituality, personal growth, psychology and philosophy were bursting out from all corners of the cupboard. In that moment, there was no better career counsellor in the world than my cupboard.
It was evident, if I was to be happy, I had to take my life in the direction of the subjects that interested me. It was easier said than done. My qualification meant people saw me as a CA, and not a Guru on philosophical matters. During this time I attended a corporate training program. The trainer seemed like a modern Guru in formal clothes. She gave us gyan on the importance of teamwork, punctuality and integrity. I was dazzled by her confidence and articulation.
I wanted to be a corporate trainer.
With this goal in mind, I moved from Finance to Human Resources. And eventually found a job in learning and development. I was optimistic that at last I would merge my passion with my work. Only to realize, here too, I was being fake. I didn’t believe what I was saying. I was just performing an act. That too, a terrible performance. I was distraught. I was back to square one.
At this time I came across a community of people called OD consultants. I had no idea what they did. They spoke of organizational change, participative dialogue and empowering people. This seemed more authentic than training. Very soon I entered the universe of organizational development. I enrolled for a course that led me to meet a variety of coaches, consultants and facilitators.
It was an immersion in a new world. I began to see systems. Government, NGOS, multinationals, family owned businesses and start-ups. As an OD consultant I got a chance to work with all of them. It was exciting to use a variety of organizational models, tools and inventories. I began to see myself as part of a niche club of OD consultants and the work I was doing seemed significant. Engaging with owners, management team members and leaders made me feel extra special.
Then life came crashing down. Existence made me hit rock bottom to see what the ocean floor of my psyche looked like. I saw impulses, addictions, insecurities and dependencies from close quarters. Just when I felt I couldn’t take it anymore, life led me to The Yoga Institute. Bruised and battered, I surrendered to the wisdom of Yoga.
The next 5 years were the most transformative years of my life. I realized my true passion lay in imparting the wisdom of Yoga in a simple and engaging manner. Not the Yoga of physical postures and breathing practices, but Yoga as a science of mind management and transcendence. Now when I spoke, it came from a place of depth. The wisdom I imparted was the wisdom I had applied and experienced. People listened.
From designing and facilitating workshops, counselling and writing a book, my creative energy flowed naturally. It was deeply fulfilling. I was no longer playing a role. I was being myself. Spontaneous and organic. Having undertaken the journey from unconsciousness to consciousness, I want to ignite, inspire and support others to undertake their own personal journey.
My journey is far from over. It’s the start of a conscious life. And there is still a lot to learn and experience. I am realizing that Consciousness is undertaking this journey through all of us. It is the journey of seeking authenticity, self-expression and fulfillment. It is the quest for meaning.
The journey from darkness to light.