Friday, October 14, 2016

Unemployement and failures - Its a Wonderful Life

I wonder how many have watched the movie 'Its a wonderful Life'. Its a very Christmassy movie and I highly recommend it.

 Just when you think it can't get worse, it becomes a wonderful life. But to enjoy a wonderful life, you need a few downs before you can treasure the up's

I have a similar story to share about our (Suresh and my) life and a certain summer in 2003.
We go through life labeling people for who they are and where they stand and how they handle life, career and family. 
Loser - That's the word associated with failure! It seems so easy to label someone as a loser.
Oh they have failed an exam - What a loser
Oh they have lost a job  - What a loser!

Here is a story in my life of losing/ failing and then rising up again - Because if you don't taste failure -- success is not as sweet!

It was close to the end of the spring semester in 2003. Suresh and I had been married about 6 months odd. We had rented a 1 BHK and were content. It was a good first 6 months considering the stress we went through convincing my folks for the marriage and attempting to stay away from any controversy. The goal was - To get married!
We go through various stages of life thinking, if I can get through this, I am going to be happy! Life will be good!
If I can finish high school, life will be good.
If I can finish engineering, life will be good.
If I can get a scholarship, life will be good.
If I can find a good spouse, life will be good.
If ... If ... If.
We were going through one of those high's when we were hit. Both of us.
In the summer of 2003, the Virginia commonwealth University decided to withdraw scholarship for the engineering PhD students for the summer. Just like that with and email, Suresh had lost his stipend for 3 months. Even though I was getting paid, it was big hit. We could not survive unless both us brought in our stipends!

Just as a very frustrated Suresh started scampering for a summer job, which was very hard considering all the good paying jobs would have been taken up much earlier, I got an email.
We had both given our PhD qualified exams and I had failed my Signal Processing Exam. Just like that, through one email! I did not know what would be the next step.

While I teary eyed called up my advisor and he encouraged me that there would be a second chance and I was not out of the program, Suresh spoke to his advisor and the possibility of a summer job or an internship somewhere. Its a wonderful life huh! If anyone had spoken to me at that time telling me that this was just a small part of a rather complex life, and things would get better, I would not have believed them! If only Suresh could get a job ... If only I could pass this exams.

And yes it did happen, just like in the movie, life turned around and the success was so sweet because we had tasted failure.
Suresh found a job in my lab working for the director as a signal processing programmer. Something he was super duper good at. And he got paid more than he did with his stipend.
I gave my exams a month later and passed - with so much ease!

I guess all is well that ends well? Now its easy to say that! But what does tomorrow bring, an up or a down. 

I was recently talking to a young person who was going through the 'if' statement
X: I thought once I finished college I would be get a job and be independent and all would be good.

My take on independence -
Employment and financial stability does not indicate independence. Independence is the determination to survive despite unemployment... despite failure.