At 35, graphic designer Richa Verma was creative head, gifts and stationery, at India’s number one card and gift shop. She was doing well, handling a team and getting a fat salary. Suddenly, she put in her papers, left it all and sat at home for a few months, just thinking about what she wanted to do next in life. Strange, you’d say! But she’s not the only one. More than a handful of women have stepped out of promising careers to try something new. For their own reasons.
Richa says, “It looked like a dream job. I was handling concepts from scratch to finish. It included visualisation, design and implementation of ideas in stationery, gifts, cards, and packaging — the works. I was also managing a team of bright young people, which does give its own kick. There was office politics, which is everywhere and you just have to learn to handle it, but otherwise the job was ideal”.
Which brings us to the question: then why did she quit? “I couldn’t put my finger on it for a long time. But, now I know. There was no peace of mind,” she says candidly. There was no time for spending relaxed weekends — just having dinner or catching a film with friends. Or visiting an art gallery or spending time sipping a coffee at the mall.
“Besides this, I could feel the stagnation build up. I had grown to the limit the organisation could allow. Now, I just had to watch and make way for talented youngsters to grow; it was time for insecurities to step in. I could see the games people were playing and I did not want to be a part of it. Before I became like some others around me, I decided to quit.”
It was a brave decision. She says the fact that she is single, with no responsibilities, might have helped too. For a while she took art classes for children. “After three months of just lying on my bedroom cushions, I decided I wanted to do web designing”.
Then Richa joined classes (where, she grins, she was the oldest student), moved on to animation and then joined a web solutions company.
“Now, I am a web designer but they also use my experience of graphics. Though I am not as rich as I used to be, I can see myself growing again”.
Rachna Kapur, a gentle, soft spoken, tall and graceful art and craft teacher in one of Delhi’s leading public schools, is another example.
Top of her class, the gifted Rachna worked as a textile designer for 10 years with top brands like Satya Paul, Roop Sarees and Ravissant.
“My last job was with Ravissant as design manager, sarees and apparel. I was satisfied with what I was doing but soon after my first daughter was born, the yearning to enjoy motherhood increased. My job was taking up all my time when I wanted to be home,” she says.
After trying her hand at freelancing for a while, Rachna got the opportunity to work in her daughter’s school as art and craft teacher. She admits that her job profile changed completely.
“In the fashion industry I was managing a design studio, printing factory, merchandising and apparel design for the elite class of society. That was a world of glamour. In school, I am shaping the artistic skills of kids. Though I am out of that world now, and the packages of both cannot be compared, the satisfaction in teaching is immense,” she says.
The perks of her current job are that she gets to open the door for her children when they come home and stay in touch with the artist inside her.
She says her new job (of four years) has helped her find herself. “Though I was guiding junior artists and designers earlier also, never in my wildest dreams did I realise that there was a teacher hidden inside me,” she says.
Sometimes, only after we leave something that has been taking all our time do we really sit down to think what we really want from life. And often, it is vastly different from what we had been doing. It just takes a brave step to reach out and change destiny.
Richa’s valuable advice to women who have been pink- slipped or have decided to quit a long-term job: “See the positive. Maybe you were in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. Find your area of interest and go for it. You may earn less but you will be happier in life.”