So I am stressed and optimistic

I agree. A survey across 21 developing countries covering 6500 women tells us that while Indian women are facing the heat for wanting to juggle a career with home and hearth and traditional roles of wife and mother, they are also the most positive amongst all developing countries in that they see more opportunities for themselves, and their daughters.
The survey also mentioned that more Indian women are watching television, but I’m not sure whether that is really a positive thing given the kind of cringe-while-you-watch soaps which are the standard stock of most GECs today. But lets not quibble about things like television watching when my only television watching comprises movies and news channels.
I wouldn’t consider myself a typical Indian woman, for one, I don’t work work. I freelance. The pressures to deliver are there but I can juggle work and domestic responsibilities to my convenience. When I did work fulltime, I was miserable. God forbid I had to be late at work for anything-pages going into press, a shoot that extended beyond estimated time, an interview delayed interminably because celeb to be interviewed had no respect for the time of the lackey waiting to interview him/her, my heart would start beating faster and faster and faster, panic would start setting in, I would run across streets and jump into trains to try and reduce my being home ‘late’. Push came to break when I was working at an advertising agency where the briefs came in at 6 pm and one was expected to work through the night on presentations. My marriage was at break point. I quit full time work. Began freelancing. Of course, I was also trying to have a baby at that point, but yes. I could do without that stress. I’m more at peace now. Yes, I did gain greater control over my life, but only at the cost of not having a career.
No whining. It was a decision I took, and I stand by it. But I use this as an illustration of the stress mentioned in the survey.
Am I optimistic? Yes, I am. Despite the fact that I cannot wear more jewellery than I weigh and go off to sleep dressed in the kind of saree that mandates one get married in it. And I’m sure many women are. Flexiwork opportunities, second chance career innings, work from home options are all enabling women to earn an income, be independent and be able to coordinate home and hearth without compromise. I have friends with young babies who are working from home, using their professional skills and making a decent amount of money, which then in turn contributes substantially to their self esteem. That makes a hell of a lot of difference to one’s optimism levels, I dont know about you, but I just hate asking the spouse for money for my expenses. Put it down to having earned my own money since I was in college.
Stressed and optimistic. I like the sound of that. It sort of balances itself out at the end. I am stressed, but I am also optimistic. Eventually the optimism should win, if I don’t die of a heart attack from the stress first that is. And yes, women get heart attacks too, don’t believe the damn cooking oil ads that would have you believe that only men do.

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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13 Responses to So I am stressed and optimistic

  1. Sue says:

    “I don’t work work. I freelance.”

    I don’t care how much you qualify the statement afterwards, it’s still something I don’t agree with. It’s work, no matter when or how you do it. If you’re going to tell me freelancing has no ‘career’ growth or corporate perks, all I’m going to say is change those glasses!

    I know you were speaking of yourself but I have worked full-time until six months ago and I know I’m working in more concentrated phases and earning more as a freelancer today. So yes, I work. I work as a freelance.

    Like

    • Kiran Manral says:

      Sue, I consider my work work, that was a comment on how freelancing is perceived by most people. Freelancing isn’t considered ‘work’, most folks assume it is something one does on the side.

      Like

  2. Poet Mamma says:

    I know what you mean about stress and optimism at the same time! Yes. I work full time. I also take homework, attend PTMs, manage house guests, attend and plan kiddie birthday parties, cook and clean when the helps abscond, shop, attend meetings at night during US hours (from home, occasionally from work), and squeeze in some community work every now and then for a cause. Why? Because I want to do it all. Is all of it perfect? No. There are times when I give hell to folks around me. Times when I am miserable. But the times when it makes me and my loved ones happy are many many more. So overall – net net – Its great! And yes, i do believe in being gainfully employed, whether you need the money or not. For your own self. And yes, things dont have to be perfect. In a family, all are not equal. All are a team. Everyone should adjust and try to compensate for each other’s shortcomings.

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  3. sukanya says:

    agree with Sue 100% freelance is work too, something for which i would give up my job in a heartbeat. it can be equally demanding, stressful as well as successful.

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    • Kiran Manral says:

      Sukanya, it isn’t something everyone can do. Despite the connotations, it requires much more discipline than working at a ‘job’ because at the end of the day you are your own boss.

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      • sukanya says:

        absolutely….one of the reasons why my consultancy hasnt taken off. i lack the discipline and the commitment it needs. i justify this by putting the blame on my full time job.
        and yes, the current perception in India particularly needs an overhaul-people need to start recognizing that freelance work is as good as a job….that it IS real work!
        one of the reasons why I like the US-doesnt matter what you do…you could have a small, struggling business but people respect you regardless.
        its the same guilt/dilemma SAHM’s have….

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  4. Anjali says:

    If a woman works outside the home, then juggling the work-life balance is a constant struggle sure, but some are just better at it than others. As for me, it wasn’t for me, I dropped out of the rat race after having a baby, but it’s not like I don’t work now, I like to say that I’m the CEO of my household, there a million little things to get done everyday, and that alone is more stressful for me, so I dunno how I could have added a job on to that and manage the whole thing, women who do so effortlessly are my heroes !!

    And yes, like sue and sukanya, the statement that jumped out to me the most was “I don’t work, I freelance”, it should have been “I don’t have a 9-5 job, I make my own hours” or something to that effect. Freelance is still definitely work, and can be very satisfying.

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    • Kiran Manral says:

      The statement was I don’t ‘work work’. The emphasis being that freelancing is not considered a proper career by most folks, we do tend to get looked down on quite a bit.

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      • Anjali says:

        Hmmm, I do see your point, people do have judgements about all sorts of choices, even if it doesn’t concern them.
        I feel judged constantly due to my choice of being a SAHM, (inspite of being an MBA, even by family !!) People say things like ‘Arre you don’t work, ghar pe to bore ho jaati hogi ( like seriously does a SAHM have no work, especially with a toddler at home ? )

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  5. Serendipity says:

    Sue’s right. Work is work Kiran. Freelance is just an epithet.

    The survey doesn’t mention the actual demographic, but I presume it is mostly concentrated on working women from the city. A typical Indian woman, unfortunately, is a housewife (I may be wrong here).

    And even though it is unfair to point this out; there is an openly accepted bias against which spouse quits their job to take care of the kids.
    Men have it easy. We don’t get pregnant. We don’t deliver babies. We rarely quit our job to take care of our babies.

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    • Kiran Manral says:

      Unfortunately Serendipity you and I and Sue may think so, but not many do. For many out there, ‘Oh you freelance, how nice!’ and turn face to next more interesting person with the fancy job title. You know.

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    • Anjali says:

      Serendipity,
      I don’t agree that men have it easy, a man too will be judged by society, if he wants to stay home for the kids, or say take up a less traditional job (like freelancing) for the sake of the kids. Infact, i strongly feel he’ll be judged much more harshly, in the Indian context.
      A woman, atleast has a choice in that regard, men have their fate pretty much sealed, IMO.

      Like

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