What did you want to be when you grew up?

Doctor? Scientist? Artist? Writer? Actor?

I wanted to be an archaeologist for the longest time as kid. I had some weird fascination with the ancient civilisations like the Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley.

But then I grew up to realise that there is not much potential for that in our country and the money wasn’t great either. I was quite disappointed. Archaeological Survey of India hired junior archaeologists for 10-15,000 per head. It was just another government job. I had to let go of my childhood dream and find something else. For a long time, I did not know what that was.

Then soon enough, by the tenth grade I had to choose my education stream- science, or arts, or commerce. It was time to figure out what were my interests and skills were, in order to zero in on a career. I was good at writing, solving puzzles, loved reading, listening to old-school music, sketching, having reasoned arguments. But none of these seemed to lead to a lucrative career for life.

Hesitantly enough, I chose commerce. Initially I struggled with it, but then I found the best tutor and soon, I turned out to be quite good at it.

Although I loved commerce subjects and was quite good at it, for some reason, it did not feel right. You know the gnawing feeling at the back of the head about something being off? I felt that even while I took commerce in the eleventh grade. That used to be the ideal time for choosing one’s profession.

Then one fine day, I went with a friend from the arts stream, for a session on law as a career. I was simply tagging along as I had nothing better to do.

The session did not do much for me at the time. But slowly, I figured out my other interests coming forth. I was more involved in what rights do we have as a citizen and as an individual. I used to argue a lot. But then, I started supporting them with facts or information. The results were amazing. People were either left convinced or fuming. I loved it!

The power of pure logic and words was exhilarating, for someone like me. That is when I decided that I wanted to be litigation lawyer. I wanted to help educate people about their rights and was willing to fight for them!

So I went full throttle at it. I did not clear the entrance exams right after my 12th boards, as I had not prepared for them. So I had to enroll into one of the best colleges offering B.Com. Therefore,  I had to convince my father as to why it is not a bad idea to let go of a lucrative career as a chartered accountant, and become a lawyer instead. It was tough. But eventually he relented. I pursued a full-time graduation course in a morning college for a year with attendance, tuition, tests and assignments, while preparing for law entrance examinations.

After an arduous year, I had managed getting through multiple law schools and I picked one of them. Everything seemed on track. Life was good. I had found my calling!

After five years of law schools, I was out in the real world, trying to find my footing. I was not adequately prepared for it.

I made a ton of decisions which even if seemed right at the time, were bad decisions. But, I think I am tougher than that now. Because after each mistake, I picked myself up, dusted off, and marched ahead.

The worst part was when my dream changed yet again. I pursued litigation for a year, but I guess, I was simply not cut-out for it. So I had to find another dream job. But, now I was a qualified lawyer, so things were different. I was not a student trying to figure things out. I had to up my game, get an edge over others, if I wanted to be a lawyer.

Nowadays, there are online law courses available which bridge the gap in formal legal education and the real world practices. But back then, there were no courses which would teach you the theoretical and practical aspects of an area of law. So it was all on you to figure it out.

I did not know which area of law I was more suited for. It could be real estate law, cyber law, mergers and acquisition law, business laws, arbitration, tax laws, or labour laws. What I did know was that I needed to pick up something and develop my skill set and expertise so that I can one day be counted amongst the best in that area.

After all, in law you can’t ever know everything. The profession is so vast, and roles are so different, no matter how brilliant you are one life time is simply too short to learn everything and do everything. Also, specialized lawyers tend to earn far more than generalists.

The one thing I knew beyond doubt was that  if I wanted a career in corporate law, I had to learn contract drafting. So I quit my litigation job and started interning with a company. I interned there for four months and learned quite a bit, but it was barely scratching the surface. There an entire mountain left to climb.

But, continuing with the trend of moving forward, I went ahead and landed my first major job!

Working with one of the oldest music labels of the country for almost four years, was a wonderful learning experience. I got to be part of in-house litigation team as they marched into the digital media and all that it entailed. My dream had reshaped into that of a media and entertainment lawyer.

Who would have thought that!

My journey as a media and entertainment lawyer was good. I learnt a lot about in-house work as a lawyer. I realised the importance of understanding the product, business and the company, over and above knowing the laws involved. But being part of the  litigation team, I realised that, I had not learnt the most important skill of the in-house lawyer- contract drafting and negotiation!

I was thinking about changing my cities, so I was looking for jobs in the same field. I came across a job post which was a perfect leap for me. It was with Anand and Anand & Khimani! The firm is known for its exceptional and extensive work in the media and entertainment industry and is based in the heart of the industry- Mumbai! I applied for the position and started preparing for it. Soon enough the day of interview arrived and I was warmly greeted by the partner on Skype. I answered a few questions, fumbled on a few. Then I was questioned on my experience of contract drafting. This is where it all went to hell.

I can’t say up to this point I never drafted any agreements. I indeed drafted quite a few, albeit in order to assist my mother who had to take care of our family business after my father’s death.I did draft some employment agreements, rent agreement, partnership agreement, memorandum of understanding and the likes. It was a tedious and unnecessarily prolonged process of learning on my own. But the point is I knew how to draft some kinds of agreements. However, I certainly did not know how to draft commercial agreements for law firm!

There is an online contract drafting course available, which teaches the nuances of the subject and its practical applications. But I did not know about that at the time. Needless to say, I did not hear back from the law firm. I wish I could blame them, but the skill of contract drafting is essential for every lawyer.

I was disappointed, but I picked myself, dusted off and moved ahead.

It was around this time, I had reclaimed my passion for writing and was writing articles for a friend’s blog. It was a wonderful way of letting my opinions on film, politics, social issues and the world, be out there.

Then one day at work, I saw a post looking for writers to work from Goa for the same company whose courses I’d taken a while back. I had just completed three and half years in my company and was looking to acquire new skill sets. The available position was in the marketing team, and I knew absolutely nothing about it. So I was both apprehensive and excited at the same time.  

Then I pursued a dream, I’d never really considered before. I became a writer!

I have been pursuing this new-found dream for about four months now, and am enjoying it.

Will this be my final dream, my true calling? I honestly don’t know for sure.

What I do know for sure is this- we all have certain skills and the ability to acquire new skills. As long as that is in place, we can go forth and keep reshaping our dreams, until we finally get it. There might be some blunders, mishaps or obstacles on the way, but that should not stop us from our goals- learning and self-improvement.

If it does seem like you cannot achieve your dreams, what should you do? I have had my dreams reshaped multiple times. What I learnt from this is that, we can either sit and lament the loss of the dreams or, we can learn to pick ourselves up, dust off, and march ahead!

Which one will you choose ?


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