Planning for a year in the University

I am trying to do something brave - planning to go to university for a year. Yes, that's right - I may stop working for a year and live without income, and study. This is indeed counter-intuitive at my age. However, I think the recession has presented me with an excellent incentive to take a break.

Truth be told, I always wanted to do this. I always thought I need a restart in my career. A sort of change of direction from what I have been doing. In my career, one thing followed the other and I moved by default or following opportunities. However, I never had a chance to set my agenda or get something I like. I am hoping that by being brave and following my heart, I shall set that right now.

So, the plan is more or less final now. I exit employment at the end of August and join one of the business schools [there was an alternate thought, but now I zeroed on studying business] for a year. I can not possibly afford to live in London. Also, I would love to stay in one of the smaller university towns and adopt the lifestyle of a full time student.

I am sure this will be an interesting challenge because I have not lived without an income since 1992. This will surely mean a lot of lifestyle change and not having the liberty to hit the 'order now' button on Amazon as often as I do. This would mean scaling down everything that I live with, and cutting down on my trips abroad, which will automatically happen if I leave employment. Losing out on my Gold membership on various airlines will sure hurt - I am so used to the privileges these bring - as well as living in a student accommodation, which is different from my relatively comfy apartment.

Besides, this will be about studying with an objective, which I am not exactly good at. Meeting deadlines on studying is something I hate. While I read for pleasure all the time, I am not good at writing exams and following timeline. I am conscious of all this but still want to do it - for a reason.

This is because I feel I am at a creative threshold. I have been working for many years and do feel that I have improved as a person and has interesting new perspectives about life and work. I need a bit of space to formulate this knowledge and make it usable, for myself and for others. I do think the travel in the last couple of years, while adding significant learning and exposure, made me take my eyes off the ball. It did not help that I had to take more responsibility than I imagined having to do, or I wanted to. This emphasized my need to take a break and make a fresh start, even if that means gambling with a year of my life.

When I look back at these years later in my life, I may look at them with a certain sense of sorrow and loss. This is three years since my mother passed away and that event, in some sense, removed an anchor from my life. Till then, I had a certain sense of purpose - I was working to make her happy and proud. But after that, it was myriad things I had to be concerned with, not least of property and possession, and somehow lost my sense of direction. I made several mistakes during last three years, in my personal and professional life, and frittered away gains which I long accumulated and wasted relationships I worked hard to develop. At this time now, I feel insecure and uncertain, something that I never felt, and lonely, another new feeling after a lifetime of being busy in a large and involved family.

This realization, further, makes me crave for a fresh start. It isn't easy to be brave in life, and throw away whatever little security I have when I have started feeling so insecure. This also means cutting off my privilege of being in India once in a while - at least for an year - which will allow various property matters I have been trying to sort out drift and loosen my connection with my family and friends yet further. However, as I said before, I feel being at a creative threshold, a point in life where failure and loss gives way to new ideas and fresh start, and feel that this is my last chance to redeem myself in life. I have always been a bit of an idealist and a dreamer, and this time I feel a serious urge to reconcile my life that is with what it ought to be.

To be honest, I have not yet worked out what after the university. I am not sure a business career is right for me. I am possibly not ruthless enough for business and politics. But, may be, I have a different way of looking at things and bring new ideas to table all the time. This may help me build a consulting career, or even one in writing and teaching. Sure, this needs a certain level of discipline that I don't have, but this is something a year of studying with deadlines should teach me. Also, this one year, I am hoping, will free me up from my self-imposed limits of achievement and pre-set notions of what can and can not be done.

That, in summary, is why I am planning to take the plunge. Here, starting today, I shall keep posting about my journey.


Rakesh Poddar said…
Hello Supriyo,

We are connected to each other at Linkedin. Accept my congratulation for making this difficult decision. In my opinion it is eminently sensible - given the motivations and state of mind that have led to it. After all, you live only once.

I have myself considered such a step several times, for reasons quite similar to yours, but haven't got around to executing it, mainly due to the long and none-so-easy path to entry in a business school.

Regards and best wishes,
Thanks Rakesh, for your kind words. It is indeed a difficult decision to make, but I thought I would never have a better time to take a break while the world economy recovers from its flu. I am more concerned whether I can mentally adjust to studying for exams again, as well as be able to keep myself away from pursuing opportunities and ideas for such an extended period of time. I chose to write about the whole exercise, as well as the experience when it comes to that, to keep sharing things with everyone else.

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