One of my landmark conversations with my boss started off with, “I have a plan.”
He smiled and said, “I’m always glad to hear that. Let’s hear it.”
And in that moment I knew he had assessed me (right) before I’d assessed myself and he liked what he saw. I like it too. I like being prepared, I like making lists. I always have a plan.
Of course, I would have a game plan for life. It got formulated somewhere in my late teens and pretty well fell into shape as I eased out of them, so let’s say for convenience that the plan is about a decade old now, shall we? Here’s what I planned my life would look like –
20 yrs – Graduate. I was put into school a year early so this wasn’t really an unrealistic goal. Next step: get into one of the big B-schools
22 yrs – Complete education (finally!) and start working.
23/24 yrs – Get married to an intelligent, loving, sensible man (preferably a few years older than me) and be a part of a cool, smart, urban couple. Have great sex, read together, enjoy music together, lounge around Sundays in kurtas and jeans.
26 yrs – Have baby no.1. Having spent at least a year enjoying the marital relationship before committing to parenthood. Maternity leave to be spent exploring art and music since presumably working life wouldn’t allow for it.
29/30 yrs – Have baby no.2. Preferably of the opposite sex as baby no.1 (one of each). The three-year gap is recommended for healthy sibling relationships. I definitely want to have more than one child. Having been an only child myself, I wouldn’t want my kid to grow up without siblings. Maternity leave no.2 activities to be a continuation or alternate to maternity leave no.1
30 yrs – Take a sabbatical to spend time with children and re-assess career. By this time, I expected to have worked for about 8 years and be an ‘important’ person in the workforce. Probably work from home.
32 yrs – Back to work. Kids in school and pre-school respectively.
45 yrs – Quit career. Kid no.1 is 19 yrs old and kid no.2 is 16. Write a book.
47 yrs – Both kids are legal adults now and presumably able to fend for selves. The husband should have had as much sex, affection, attention, and energy as he could possibly want from me by now. Leave home and spend a year in a Buddhist monastery.
48 yrs – Return to everyday living/stay in the monastery/who knows? I figured that by this time I’d know what I really wanted to do with my life and would have checked off all the necessary expectations so people would leave me alone to live my life as I wanted.
Career success – check
Financial stability – check
Artistic fulfilment (music, art, writing) – check
Marriage – check
Motherhood – check
I still think it was a damn good, if somewhat ambitious plan. What a lovely life it would have been if it had gone that way!
This post would become the start of a series called The Thirty Diaries – my journey through an engagement, a career turn, going on stage, and defining moments of my politics. My 30s were the decade that transformed me from the determined 17-year-old who tried to build a life plan.