During the first year of our MBA, I came across this delightful term – DINK. It stands for couples with Double Income, No Kids. SR and I belonged to this category for over 2 years. But now I think it’s time to upgrade. (And no, you are wrong.)
I recently coined the new category we belong to – NANK. No Ambition, No Kids.
So proud was I of this categorization, that I read it out aloud to SR, who immediately looked huffy.
“I have ambition! Who said I don’t have ambition?’
“Okay, okay. I’ll change it.” After all, the dude has spent months writing his first book and starting up his first company. That should count for something.
“You can be NINK”, I told him.
“No Income, No Kids.”
I am assuming from his look of quivering indignation that he doesn’t trust himself to speak.
So, here we are – Mr. NINK and Ms. NANK. One with ambition, but no income yet. And the other with an income but no ambition yet.
Having known SR for a long time now, I know he’s going to change his NI status soon. He has always been the one with vision and determination. He may have only been 23 when he told me he liked me, but he was darned serious about it. I thought he was asking me to be his girlfriend. It was a big decision for me, a girl of 20. Having a BF. The relationship could go on for weeks, possibly even months. SR put me right at once.
“It’s Broadway or no way.” he told me firmly.
“You mean, marry you?” I gasped.
I was in shock. I suspect I was in shock until after the marriage.
But I digress. The case at hand (as always) is me – Ms.NANK.
I studied to be an engineer. Then I did my MBA intending to get into HR. But I got into social media research. And I enjoyed it very much. But I got another opportunity – to join a test prep startup. I joined thinking I would teach people English. And I did something like this for a while. But now I am doing all kinds of things – I help people plan their career. I help them write better. I edit a lot of stuff – from books to emails to brochures and website content. I organize and conduct workshops. Often, I sit in on Marketing and Strategy meetings and sometimes, I give useful inputs.
So, it’s difficult to describe my job in one line. or in 5 minutes. It’s quite complicated. Like being a fence for stolen paintings. Or a seller of pornographic DVDs. You can say that you are an art dealer or in the movie business – but you aren’t really.
Everyday, I help my clients understand their career goals better. I tell them they have to get a grip on life. That their goals must be ambitious, yet realistic. That they must have a clear plan for 2, 5 and 8 years from now. I tell them that education is a major decision. And that it must not be taken lightly.
Then I come home and watch TV, have dinner and go to sleep.
I am doing precisely what I ask them not to do – confine themselves to a uni-dimensional life. What I am doing now has nothing to do with what I studied. It has nothing to do with my previous job either. For a long time, I was worried about this. Why didn’t I have a career plan? A coherent path that I could follow?
But after some long and hard thinking, I have realized that I don’t need to know what comes next. That’s when I coined this term – NANK. It is true that I don’t have ambition. I don’t have a plan.
I am happy with what I am doing right now – there are enough challenges and opportunities. I work with some really smart and nice people. I am actually helping others make sense of their careers. Being an English expert is my job – so what’s not to love?
Perhaps a few years later, just as I realized a year ago that social media research wasn’t the path for me, I may realize that I want to do something else. Perhaps my Ph.D. Perhaps become a life skills trainer. Perhaps a writer. Or a book editor. Perhaps even a NINK housewife sponging off SR. (that reminds me, I have some ego-massaging to do now if I want to be a NINK a few years from now!)
It may sound ludicrous – what guarantee do I have about the shape of the economy? Will I get a proper job? Will I ever make money?
The thing is, I don’t know yet. But that’s where the fun is – in not knowing!
While helping my clients figure out their career goals, I tell them to think in terms of transferable skills. I ask them – what have you learned so far, that will help you do something else? Something different?
That’s exactly what I am asking myself now. And I know that I have a lot of transferable skills. I have had many different, life-changing experiences. I have met a number of interesting and highly accomplished people. I have also met many tiresome and idiotic people. Each of them has taught me something. And I am all the richer for it.
So, I am happy now to enjoy the present and give it my best. Hakuna Matata!