Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell’s research finds that “there is an asymmetry in the way people compare themselves with others. We tend to look exclusively at those better off than us, rather than contemplate our position within the full range of outcomes. When the lot of others improves, we react negatively, but when our own lot improves, we shift our reference group to those who are still better off. In other words, we are never satisfied, since we quickly become accustomed to our own achievements. Perhaps that is what spurs people to earn more, and economies to grow.”
Not very often that I feel too strongly about ‘most’ feminist agendas because I see an ideal world to be accommodating for both genders, as opposed to equal for both genders, but financial freedom and financial ambition is something I have felt very strongly about and all of it came back to me when I came across an article on LinkedIn called ‘Message for Women in Business: Its Okay to Love Money‘. This struck a cord with me as I remember being told, ‘its not your job to earn money’. Well, its noone’s birth right to do or don’t, its a choice – a choice people, men and women, should be able to make. Both men and women can choose to dedicate their time to building a fortune, or volunteering to something humanitarian, or both.
What makes me sad about this article, is that its intended for women only, which makes sense because men who love money are called ambitious, powerful, even arrogant (God knows when that became a compliment?). Now, by no means do I suggest earning money with wrongful means is justified (however you might define that), but its okay to have financial goals, ambitions and to work for it, for everyone, if that’s what makes you happy because at the end of the day, its not just money you’re trying to earn, its the ability to live well, experience life and make things happen.
Recently, my mind’s been running paths to see where my career and life is going. I have had some career development mentor-ship and a read around. It is not surprising that when I began to collect my thoughts about where I see my career in 10 years, I had to consider the fact that I ‘d probably be taking a few years out to have kids and wait until they are old enough to go to a nursery for me to head back to work. Its interesting how a plan for my career, not much later, became a plan for my life where I saw the personal and professional struggling against each other – such is the life for women, right? And for the rare men who decide to make the same share of contribution at home.
I thought to myself, if at 30 my husband makes a director, I probably make a manager, or senior manager at best having spent fewer years in the workforce.
Having to leave the workforce for a few years, here I assumed was my choice but there’s possible solutions women (and other) leaders are presenting. Like encouraging growth in the child care industry, making it safer, cheaper and a more viable option. And by making maternal leaves more generous and creating a culture where men play a bigger role in child care and house work.
But there’s a counter argument to this, which I do feel very fondly for. Can the caretaker really bring up your kid the way you’d like? Is that how we want our next generation to be raised? And shouldn’t you (women and men) have the right to enjoy your parenthood? It’s not just about checking it off your list, right?
So what really is the solution? I am sure solutions and priorities are different for everybody. Not everybody has to leave the workforce, or have kids for that matter – but for me, I wondered how I could do justice to both my professional and personal pursuits.
So, what’s the solution if you do want to do all of that (which applies to me)? I thought hard and far and I think what would work best for me and for those who want to have a career, enjoy their kids and have a work-life balance, is to have options for flexible working. I have seen great examples in the workplace I am currently a part of it, which makes me rather fond of it. There’s executives who work from home and have little kids, visit the office once in a while and believe me I don’t feel any difference in the way they operate or work, especially as the companies are now global and teams scattered worldwide, where meetings happen over online conferences more often than in the conference rooms. I don’t think this is a permanent solution (while it could also be), but if you could have a few years to work flexibly, you never have to leave the workforce or miss out on seeing your children grow up. And you can always go back in full swing when you’re ready – sure you’d be making some compromise, but is there a better option?
Today, on my way back from dinner I had to pick up a tailoring job from a store and like usual it didn’t take more than a minute. But in this minute, I was forced to stop and think about stereotypes and the desperate need to break out of them.
When I entered the store, my pack was ready at the counter and I went straight for it as the shopkeeper handed it to me. In the queue although were a few European and Korean (looking) guys, waiting for their turn, so while I grabbed my pack I said ‘excuse me, sorry!’, exactly what I would have done if I were back in the UK, but instead of the suspicious stare I got from that group of guys in Pakistan, I would have probably just gotten way. I realised in that moment, that our behaviour (many a times) is not based on what the situation is, but on the pre-assumptions that we bring into that situation about each other and the situation itself.
I could also relate this stare to something which we do to people from our own cultures too. Sadly, you get to see a lot of that here as the inequality is enormous – It is when the more educated, sophisticated people judge the individuals from the lesser well off backgrounds. This got me thinking about the true solution to the problem is to truly and really accept the diversity within human beings and stop judging them based on their backgrounds, colour or ethnicity. Living in one of the most multicultural societies in the world, importance of tolerance is clear in London, where we know that only if someone looks brown, black or white, they wouldn’t necessarily be cultured a certain way or live a certain lifestyle. But I wish we could take that thinking with us everywhere – so that in every relationship, in every situation we’d start with an empty slate, with no pre-assumptions and stereotypes, so we’d really see things for what they are and know people for who they really are.
I think, one understands the true meaning of diversity when they see someone who they assume to be exactly like them, with similar backgrounds but they happen to have completely different ideas of what life is all about and different values and habits. I think that shakes us more than when we see someone from a different culture, doing things similar to us.
What I am trying to say is, whether a person is from your own or another race, you never know what hides under that skin and flesh – and I think we’re all worth that fair chance of showing each other who we really are and what we really stand for because beyond that stereotype is a whole different; and similar person in each one of us!
I have been back home for a few days now, and to be fair – everyone’s been quite kind to me. So many familiar people, so much to share with them and love about them. I am sure this is going to somewhat die down once the weddings and festivities end in a few days’ time. But the truth is, it almost feels like I was never gone, it feels like I have so much more to show for my time and years gone by, we’ve all grown older and wiser (hopefully), but yet we love and live like we always have.
It feels like I am in a safe place, when I am here – lesser to worry about, but I definitely need to get on my own two feet soon and get my life onto a purposeful path. Having said all of this, I also realised today what the bitterest thing about being back was: approval. As I have so many around me who love and relate to me and are with me through each day, they happen to take this upon themselves to quality and approve mine and each other’s decisions and lives. Similarly, they share all the happiness and sorrows.
A deeper thought into this makes me wonder if this is just specific to the culture in Pakistan, or may be no matter where you had all your family and friends, there will be expectations and those who meet them, and those who don’t.
It’s just another great chapter of life, with its own highs and lows – All I can say is that I have no regrets because I have lived and loved every bit of it, so far…
Today has been an interesting day in our household. On my way back from work my brother called me to say his wallet had gone missing. It wasn’t the biggest surprise to me as it was in his pocket and he was in train which was packed in peak hours. And I guess it happens sometimes – Lucky he didn’t have much cash in the wallet, still he had lots of cards to block, renew and replace.
We were only just fretting over getting this done that my brother got a notification on his Instagram, that he had been tagged in a photo. Shockingly, it was picture of his wallet and he was tagged by a girl he had never heard or seen before. She said he should contact her and take the wallet off her. Turns out he had dropped his wallet while he was on the train and this kind lady had found it there and then looked for my brother on Instagram from his name and photo ID. My brother messaged her and he couldn’t have been more thankful, and later this week they will meet to have his wallet returned.
This episode gave me a reality check of how technology has changed our lives and it make me think why we talk so much about how is has made our lives complicated, occupied and inhumane – sometimes I think we lack a sense of positivity and we forget to think about all the great things it makes us capable of doing. Even if the lady had found the wallet, there was no way of her contacting my brother unless she went to his university and got his details, which would have meant so much effort and time. I think technology has amplified our habits, capabilities and it is helping us reach our potentials, while we still learn to completely and effectively incorporate it into our lives. So the people who are kind, have greater opportunities to do something good with their increased accessibility and connectivity and people who are not, they wouldn’t be any different without technology either.
Today I am proud to be born in this era of technological advancements.
Going through old & new photos of my family members, relatives, friends; I got thinking of how we look at our family, our cousins, our siblings, our people and others.. And I found myself rolling over double standards there, unconsciously because we’re brought up thinking that we’re supposed to be similar and have similar standards for how we live, what we do and what we do or do not appreciate. And to be fair that seemed like a reasonable expectation to have earlier in the days as we lived closely knit together and we were only growing up and finding ourselves, asking similar questions about similar things… But as we grow older and start to experience different things in life and turn out different from each other attributing to experiences, we can’t really be thought of as being so similar any more, yet we do love each other – I guess we then need to start treating them more as friends than family who we unconsciously want to be similar to. We learn from them, we support them, we cherish them, but we can’t expect them to have the same aspirations and habits like us, even though you do share a history with them and that never changes and you carry bits & bobs with you. I just think I am writing this as we all grow older to find each other change through time and often times it can be hard to understand that we can’t expect ourselves or people to be what they were and to have the same relationship with you as they did before. Things change, people change, our dynamics with others changes – It’s just a part of this wonderful journey.
This blog is only a reminder to self. Growing up has never been the easiest thing for my mind to get around!