Judgment calls are always difficult. Especially if it involves others too. Family. Colleagues. The 4 month break that I took from work in September 2017 was one such judgment call. And it was more of a gut feeling than anything else.
A little flashback, before we get into this…Circa 2013. I had quit my job as an Account Executive in what was supposed to be the best ad agency in Bhubanswar almost a year ago. Managing relationship with clients and running after them for the bills to cleared wasn’t my cup of tea. That I was sure of. I wanted to be a Copywriter but didn’t know how to be one. Still worse, I couldn’t find any decent ad agency in Bhubanswar where I could find my future mentor.
A friend who was previously a colleague in the same agency told me about this place called MICA in Ahmedabad. It was supposed to be the best school of its kind. It was a B School with a difference. It was a Brand School. And it had a course for aspiring Copywriters and Art Directors.
This news was like music to my desperate years. I had been struggling to find a place like this since over a year and I finally found it. But this was just the beginning. The entrance test was not easy by any means. The acceptance ratio was probably 1:50. And it had just 24 seats.
Will I ever make it to MICA? That question haunted me day and night when I got a mail from the CCC (course co-ordinator) informing me that I was on the waiting list. And then finally during the first week of May 2013 I got the call letter. But what was earlier a 6 months course, was now a 1 year course. We were supposed to be first batch for this new course. And the fee hike was almost 70%, if not double. Made sense because it was now a year long course. The course fee (inclusive of VAT) plus the mess and boarding charges was Rs. 5, 25,000. How on earth was I going to pay for it? I didn’t want to burden my mother with such a high course fee. She had already paid for my previous course in Advertising and I didn’t have the heart to ask her. I did the next best thing I could. I went to almost every single bank in Cuttack in that summer of 2013 but I was disappointed and dejected to know that while most nationalised banks offered loans for the flagship Post Graduate Diploma course, almost no bank, except private banks, offered loans for the Crafting Creative Communications course.
I remember I came home dejected. I was sweating like a pig. My aunt gave me a glass of water and said that my first instalment has already been paid. My mother had arranged for it from her GPF. That day, I went into the bathroom and cried. I was both happy and sad. But my problems were far from over.
I was amongst the oldest students in my batch. I was 27 while most of my batch mates were fresh graduates who had done BMM and similar courses. The first couple of months were extremely difficult. I thought I was wasting my mother’s hard earned money. Maybe I don’t have the knack to become a Copywriter and I can never be a creative person. I would have quit had it not been for Rajan Nair Sir. A seasoned ad professional and an award winning Copywriter himself, Rajan sir told me that I could do it. I decided to continue. In March 2014, I graduated with a Silver Certificate in Copywriting. And I can never thank him enough for having faith in my ability when I had none myself. My hard work had paid off.
So here I was, standing at the threshold again, about to jump into another wild decision.
After working for 7 years in advertising, I was feeling burnt out. I love my work. But there was this itch to try something new. My print ads and posters were released. I had written some radio spots. YouTube ads too were released. But I have always wanted to tell stories. It was my dream that someday, my story will get published too. That people might read it and will probably love it. But it had never happened. A forced break due to illness in January 2017 nudged me to question my priorities in life. Yes, I will work till the day I can and one fine day I will retire. What after that?
During a short visit to my hometown in May 2017, I was standing on the Mahanadi barrage in Cuttack. The cool wind was caressing my face. I could hear the water gushing. And all of a sudden I decided to take a break. I put in my papers on 1st August without consulting anyone.
My mother was both angry and shocked. She would call me every day and ask, even demand that I should think things through. But I had decided I wanted a break. Somehow, my gut feeling told me I will get some kind of employment or freelance work even after 4 – 5 months of break. And that was what happened. I got it sooner than I thought.
A commissioned work to write a coffee table book that a friend had got and wanted an extra pair of hands came up to me. Around then my father was also ailing. So in a way this decision proved to be blessing. Thankfully, I can now spend more time with my family, thanks to the flexible work environment I have for myself.
In hindsight, I would never have been where I am today, nor would I be able to publish my first few short stories, had I not quit my job. I don’t regret quitting my job at DDB Mudra. All of us have to take some difficult decisions in life. This was mine. The real test is to live with the consequences of one’s own decisions – good, bad or ugly.