I’m a 28-year-old Hindu female. Not married and not what is considered ‘highly educated’ in today’s world. So what exactly have I achieved?
I find in Hindu culture, you need to have ticked off achievements – either you are career-oriented and on a high salary (in this case it’s okay to be single), or you are married with children (in this case it’s okay not to have a booming career). But what about people like me?
Don’t get me wrong. I graduated with an Honours degree in commerce and had job offers from multiple big-tier accounting firms in my early 20s. But since then I’ve found it hard to be moulded by the rat race and a workaholic life. I don’t know what happened to be honest. I worked in a Big 4 accounting firm for over two years and I hated it. At that time, I was single, so my community just assumed I was very career-oriented and not interested in settling down. They couldn’t see that as a recent graduate, I was unhappy and hated my job. As an Indian growing up in New Zealand – my community just didn’t understand that I hadn’t yet found a suitable life partner. Yet the hierarchy, timesheets, and lack of work-life balance made me realise I’m not cut out for the elite Big 4 life. I didn’t want to let my family down, but I had to decide my own happiness came first.
I quit my job and moved to Melbourne. This was huge for me, as I’d never moved out of home in 25 years. My parents supported me, but others in my family and community put it down to me “being too westernised” and “having too much freedom”. But I needed this to grow as a person. I had no issues finding accounting jobs in Melbourne. And to my luck, my job had the work-life balance I was lacking in the Big 4 environment. I know people back home in New Zealand talked behind my back about me moving countries and “not thinking of my future”, but sometimes this mentality goes to show how conservative and backwards some cultures are.
I’ve now lived in Melbourne for almost three years, and although I miss my family, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier. I’ve learnt how to do things I never would’ve learnt by living with my parents. I’ve gone out and bought a car with no help, made friends that have become family, and had the opportunity to join dance groups and go to events that a small country like New Zealand doesn’t have. To top it all off, I’ve met an amazing man who I don’t think I would’ve ever met if I stayed in New Zealand. My career might be a few years behind those I graduated with, but it is definitely on track and I’m working my way up.
So I might not have been moulded into the typical 28-year-old Hindu female, but age is just a number. Eventually I stopped listening to what my society was saying and I listened to my heart instead. As a result, I found myself and I couldn’t be happier. I find a lot of people with strict religions just do what society expects of them, whether they are happy with the decision or not.
To all of you that think you’re falling behind in life – just remember that you can’t walk in the shadows of others. We all run our own marathons in life, and that’s the beauty of it because you only have one life!
Cover image by Government of New Zealand / New Zealand Immigration Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons