There’s no other word for it. Screwed. Completely. Sometimes, I hate my school for ingraining the principle that you had to deserve and earn every damn thing. With hard work. And it wasn’t just school. My mother was no different.
It was important to be deserving, worthy of something before you got it. And everything that was aspirational had to be earned – which meant you had to slog for it, sweat for it, and work relentlessly. And after all that, you had to look to the powers that be with humble expectation and gingerly ask, well gently imply: “Am I good enough for it? Have I done enough to deserve it?”
In my case, I sometimes got a yes and mostly got a no. And I went right back to toiling and killing myself trying to prove that I earned the right to deserve it – whatever “it” was at the time.
And then there was another problem, the guilt of 'almighty' desire. I always wanted more. A lot more, be it grades in school, in college, getting a good job, getting a salary hike, getting a promotion. That in turn, left me with a sense of guilt. Was I being greedy? Asking for more? Wanting more?
Today, I am still slogging to earn what I think I deserve. And it’s the same old story. I have to constantly do more. Achieve more. Prove more. The benchmarks keep rising and I continue to slog.
You might think why I’m cribbing about this?
I crib, because I am jealous of people who can easily walk into a room with confidence and know that the front row is for them, without making any effort. They know that their world is so lucky to have them. You can see them in organisations, smooth talking and never sweating (though in their head they are sweating with the sense of superiority), in social media making intelligent comments - which generally means ridiculing and downplaying everyone else. The sense of entitlement that comes without making any effort leads to the "I am better than you" syndrome, which is attached to them like a strong deodorant.
And yet, this year – when the razzmatazz around the startup world fades slightly, especially in the wake of demonetisation – I believe will be the year of the backbenchers. People who have honestly slogged their butts off.
With cost-cutting underway everywhere, the sloggers who did not get the front-row seats are the ones who will keep their seats. People who slogged and desired a seat at the table will get one, and for all you know, might be the ones in the driver’s seat. My belief is that this is the year when your work and only work will speak for itself.
Now that I am talking about work, you and I might think we work very hard, but the question we have to answer is:
Does our work moves the needle for our respective organisations? Does my work truly make a difference? Is my slogging just slogging or does it lead to a real outcome, an outcome that makes things move forward?
Let's think about this as we prepare for our annual performance appraisals. Yes, I will still be feeling bad for having to work hard to earn every damn penny I get, but I am not complaining as long as I get my pennies, my much-deserved pennies. (or maybe the new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes).