If I were to interview you and ask ‘Describe what you went through when you took a career break to take care of your child?’
Where would you start? Do you start with how your ambitions got axed due to factors beyond your control? Or how you miss talking about your field of work with an adult? Or why you even bothered to study so much when eventually you had to give up everything you ever worked so hard for?
Do you start with how meaningfully you have impacted the lives of your kid(s)? Or how you have been able to provide your kid(s) a strong foundation and inculcate in them the right values for life? Or how you have been able and willing to forgo your career to give them your best personal care and quality time?
You may probably respond with a jumble of these. And rightly so, since women give up a significant career or the prospect of having one when they quit in order to take care of kids or family.
Let’s face it – we belong to a generation that is bogged by opportunities and the abounding choices only make our decisions tougher. We are educated enough to dream and pursue ambitions, yet many of us voluntarily take a step back to be able to nurture a growing child to our satisfaction. This paradox of choice is bound to plague us. What we need to do is acknowledge that these feeling are part of the phase we are going through and certainly a part of our generation. Our grandmothers most probably never had to make these hard choices.
We need to break free from ruminating about having given up one for the other. Ruminating about our earlier decision to quit is an absolute drain on every meaningful day that passes by. It robs us of the present and even the future. We must remember that at some point in the past, the reason to quit was compelling enough to convince us to do it. Second-guessing the decision is not only futile but also a drain on the precious energy that can be directed towards something more productive.
One way to avoid rumination is to pursue something meaningful during those few micro breaks you barely manage to get in the day. Meaningful doesn’t have to be something serious. It could be fun like watching an inspiring movie or reading a thought-provoking book. Watching certain movies can energize some of us positively. The movie ‘Joy’ for instance, was loosely based on the life of ‘Joy Mangano’ and is absolutely inspiring. Reading books that you never got the time to do while studying or working can be a lot of fun too. The ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ by Patrick Lencioni can make you reflect on your past career and rethink on how you could have handled situations. Some women pursue their hobbies of art and crafts or baking during their break, while others take up higher education. Some begin their home business or begin teaching. Whether you make money out of it or not, whether it ever helps you in your career if and when you return to one, it will help you currently stay engaged and happy. And that is reason enough. Only when you are happy will you be able to spread the happiness to your family and those around you. A positive frame of mind will help you see opportunities that you may otherwise miss.
Habitually second-guessing your earlier decision to take a career break could make you bitter in the end. Instead, channelize your mind. By doing something meaningful during the micro breaks you get every single day, it will help you appreciate the true value of the decision you have taken.
About the author:
Sruthi Subramaniam: An HR Manager, worked for companies like Infosys and Thomson Reuters. After taking a break to look after her child, she now freelances. She enjoys developing HR content and writes on topics related to HR under her own name as well as in the capacity of a ghostwriter.
(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)
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