For the past several days, this question keeps running in my head. I would have never given it a proper thought if I did not have to write this blog. But, challenge accepted. And with full honesty, I give you the short answer: I have no clue how I landed up here.
Now, for the longish answer, here it goes.
It was 2015 and just like everyone else in my class, I was off to go to a fancy Business school to pursue an MBA. Now, either call it destiny or something, but I couldn’t go. Thinking back, I thank my unfavourable stars for saving me from a lifetime of selling cars or worse, soap.
Now, I am not saying that settling in the corporate world is a bad thing, but I realised quite early on that it would never suit me. Growing prices of chowmein and canteen bills really opened my eyes to capitalism. I knew Karl Marx before I read Karl Marx.
I took a gap year,or call it a laying-low-from-nosy-relatives year. If my family had a newsletter, my MBA fallout would make it on the cover page every quarter. I spent the next 365 days visualising myself in every career that I could do. I had always been a creative person, or that is what you think when you are asked to decorate every pinboard in school. I thought of becoming an art therapist, but interestingly my mother had a very colourful reaction to the idea.
In those weeks of pondering, I think what brought me closer to consciously choosing social impact was my reasoning of time. I knew that I would be spending the next 40-50 years building a career for myself. Even if I was selling the best soaps in the country, I would still take the same amount of time. So why not use that time, to actually create impact where it is most needed. Nothing fancy of a reason, but this very insight is what keeps me motivated to work in the sector even today.
The challenging part came next; marrying my creative side with the desire to work in the sector. Now don’t get me wrong, at 21 years of age, I did have a very narrow view of social work or social impact. My only understanding of the sector came from films I grew up watching; the social worker, always clad in khadi with a jhola, working to save the underprivileged. I found that there are places where you are taught about social impact and luckily I got through one such place to pursue my Masters. I got to understand that social impact can come in so many different forms. You can be a jingle maker and still make a difference.
It has been over 4 years since I first began my social impact journey.. Believe me, it was never a straight path. Here “ learning on the job” actually means learning on the job. You never wear a single hat; there are times when you wish you had multiple heads to match those hats. But with all its shortcomings, I love my work. I love that each minute I spend is going towards building that needed momentum for change. A small design, a short write up will create an impact...maybe not now, but someday for sure. You get to face challenges that are unique and solving them is thrilling. Even though, impact requires time and is a complex process, each small win is celebrated. The sector always gives you space to level up your game. Oh, and despite all the myths, the job pays well.