I attempt to write about the change in lifestyle, opinion and priorities we experience as we step out of college in to the world of fending for yourself and what better time to write about it than on a Monday morning, right after the customary coffee cup.
I have been up since five, scurrying around to get ready for the two hour journey that takes me to office from my home. The breakfast will just have to be rolled up in Aluminum foil because getting late is not an option: they will charge you a half day's salary. Besides, you are perennially struggling to beat your supervisor in the race called 'I got here first' and somehow he is always there, sipping his morning tea while you frantically urge your system to boot up and record your attendance.
Contrast this with just six-seven months back: I would have lazily albeit unhappily got up at eight, had my fill at the breakfast table because home cooked food is so hard to come by and reached the metro station in a mock hurry. Yes, yes, there would be lectures to attend but who cared if you missed a couple? A well-modulated voice could always mark your presence, anyway. And, then, timings never really mattered. There was no pride to be gained in entering the lecture room before your professor. More importantly, it was all a matter of choice. A crucial (by that I obviously allude to attendance and internal assessment issues) lecture was worth a couple of hours of sleep and hunger pangs.
Now, the choices have been taken away from us by the system. You have to suffer through the morning ordeal even when you know you are just going to idle away your time on Quora that morning. Look at me: writing away on a minimized word document on my system with a book on Structural Mechanics open in the background to lend some credibility to the paychecks. But don't get me wrong here. On peak days, we don't even have time for lunch. That is the thing about working with a team, some days you are loaded, some days you are left yawning. So, that is another thing that you are introduced to in the corporate world- there is no such thing as finishing first. Your work is the product of inputs from a number of people, which may or may not be the final thing and the end result you churn out is always susceptible to review and change.
The job isn't over till the lead says so and till then you just sit there, waiting, working and learning. Making a mistake does not mean just a score deduction but you are forced to introspect and bring out a tangible change. Words like accountability and responsibility gain quick prominence in your dictionary. What makes enduring it all possible is the feeling you get on completion of a task. If that does not happen with you, then, my friend, I'm afraid you're in the wrong profession.
For me it is the realization that I'm not playing with paper projects any more but the drawings that we roll out are being converted to steel in some corner of the world. The sheer magnitude of the power of creation this tasks demand is what makes it worth the while for me. It would be something else for another profession, but, the contentment of a job well done should be there. Strangely enough, job satisfaction is the last of things we were looking out for, last year when we sat for campus placements. It was all about money and brand image. Well, at least that bubble has burst. It is not possible to sit nine hours a day, five days a week doing something that does not help you grow as a person, no matter what the figures in your bank account indicate.
Coming to those figures though, it is extremely gratifying to finally have some money you can call your own. Your insides do a hoopla dance every month when those folks at the bank inform you about your newly arrived riches. A steady source of income spells freedom to make choices you had shied away from earlier. The gym membership finally comes through and you will do it justice because it is your money. Dinner orders are made without a glance to the prices section. You consider yourself deserving. It is your money and you plan and plot to spend it in the most beneficial way possible. Agreed, you will fail for the first couple of months or so, when the last week before salary day would find you loitering back to your college ways, but, with time you will strike a balance between need and want.
So, in a way I can say that choices with respect to time have been replaced by choices with respect to money. But the real choice is: how much of either are you willing to sacrifice for the other?