I am currently being introduced to people and also find myself referring to me as a ‘lawyer undergoing a quarter-life crisis’. In this context, I was recently given one of the best pieces of advice – I was told to look at ‘this’ as a ‘quarter-life opportunity’ and not a ‘quarter-life crisis’. This piece of advice combined with the book I am currently reading makes so much sense to me. It has really changed the way I perceive a large part of my past and has made me even more hopeful.
The book I am currently reading- The Flipside by Adam J. Jackson- talks about how every crisis has a flipside to it and if you have a positive outlook, it can help you find opportunities where none seemingly exist. The book is full of case studies through which he demonstrates how people who have gone through some really horrible things managed to make the most of it and turned them into a huge opportunity to become better people and lead a better life.
The book really struck a chord with me. It made me re-evaluate some ‘crises’ and think of how they may have made my life better or how I could have found an opportunity just by re-evaluating the way I look at things. While I am yet to find the flipside to a lot of things that have happened, one recent event really turned out to be an opportunity in disguise and fortunately, I managed to recognise that before having read the book. Maybe, I am becoming more optimistic. Yay!
In April, I had started having these really strange pains in my upper thigh. It was falsely diagnosed and I ended up spending thousands of Rupees in getting it treated. Even after suffering for a couple months, the pain did not go away. I finally took a second opinion where I was again falsely diagnosed and put on bed rest for a week. Fortunately, something about that diagnosis struck me as patently wrong and I went in for a third opinion where I was finally diagnosed with tendinitis. I was told that since it had been left undiagnosed for so long, it would take a much longer time to heal and I should be prepared for that. Amongst other things, I was told to not sit too much and to not walk. While, I was not on complete bed rest, it was close to it because I was largely house-bound. I was very frustrated because around this time I had decided to go back to being a lawyer, largely as a result of reduced savings and because I could not think of anything else to do (that was me being realistic). As far as I was concerned, this bed rest had really screwed things up for me. I was also angry because I would now have to wait for an unspecified amount of time before I could get back to making money while spending ridiculous sums of money on a daily basis to ensure that I do get better. I spent a lot of time complaining, angry and frustrated.
It was at this time that I started googling stuff like ‘following your dreams’ and several websites opened up. I came across some really mind-blowing information and realised that people are doing all sorts of things to follow your dreams and more importantly, that people are really following their dreams. For me, a dream has always been just a dream and something which I have also considered as separate from reality and that is why I have always considered myself to be a realist as opposed to an optimist. Armed with all this information and extremely inspired, I decided to not go back to law and to instead find ways and means to live my idea of a life. Of course, I also started this blog around that time, largely to document my journey and also to have an outlet for venting my fears along the way.
In hindsight ( and this was completely in hindsight and not something I was optimistic about when it was happening), I would have probably been sitting behind a desk right now, drafting agreements and doing everything lawyers do like working insane hours, for a lot of money, and feeling frustrated and hopeless. Instead, I am sitting behind a desk now, writing this blog, almost broke, feeling frustrated (at times), scared out of my wits (most of the time) but increasingly hopeful. If I really break it down, there really doesn’t seem to be too much difference between the two scenarios except for the money part of it. Most people would think that I am nuts because everything seems the same except that instead of making money, I am practically broke. However, my take on this is that the key difference is that I am more optimistic about the future than I have ever been before.
While, most people don’t see it or get it, I know how much I have evolved as a person over the past few months. I think better and more creatively, I write a lot more, I debate a lot more, I am more assertive, I like myself more and I am more confident about myself and my abilities. Although, the world does not recognise my abilities, for a change, I am a lot more aware of them. I have new interests, more options, and a totally different way of thinking. In certain respects, I am version 2.0 of myself- new and improved.
When I think about it, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t got tendonitis. While tendonitis is hardly a crisis, it has created a huge opportunity for me- to take control of my life and choose which direction it goes in, as opposed to just letting it happen to me. I know of several more examples of mini-crises which have actually improved my life in various ways. Perhaps, instead of concentrating on crises, it is a lot more prudent for me to concentrate on how I can convert them into opportunities and how they have made/could make my life better or me a better person.
Even now the realistic/pessimistic side of me keeps telling me that this is hopeless and that I am just wasting valuable time doing absolutely nothing of any consequence; that statistics are against me and that I am more likely to fail than succeed in my ‘quest’. However, the optimistic side of me tells me to keep going and keep trying. If things don’t work out, then I will just have to find an opportunity in that, move on and use the lessons learnt to do something better next time.
At the same time, I understand that very often optimism becomes denial. This is an argument I hear a lot of time when I express optimism about my current situation- about how I am really in denial. I happen to disagree for the simple reason that I am very aware of the situation I am in and the potential pitfalls. I know (as much as is possible with the information available at this point) that I am taking a huge risk and that there is a possibility things will not work out in the end. But here’s where the optimism comes in- I accept the risk, the challenge and the realities of the situation and still find myself positive and optimistic about the future. Contrary to what everyone thinks, I do have some idea of what I am doing, and I have lived enough to have some idea of how the world works. I know what I have got into. I am not in denial; just undeniably optimistic.
Going forward, I intend to be more positive and more optimistic while complaining less. I have to learn to find the silver lining- the opportunity arising from every major/minor crisis. I am going to be looking out for the flipside from now on.