You’ll often read about women in their late 40s/early 50s, leaving their corporate jobs and starting new ventures, mostly in very different spheres than their previous fields of work. The HR manager of an MNC starting her own café, the corporate lawyer starting a jewellery business, the software engineer opening a bookshop and art gallery, the bank officer setting up her own plant nursery……the list is quite vast. Then we also have stories of full-time moms venturing into fashion designing or opening a day care center etc.
The common ground here is that we get to read about them only coz their 2nd innings are success stories. It all sounds so good. It makes us all think about our boring jobs and want to start afresh. It puts that spark in our heads that it’s time for something new.
Along with our new-found liberation that defines our “mid-life crisis”, this just seems so right that we embark on a new chapter in our lives. The nests are mostly empty, most of us have been in careers where we have peaked or saturated, there is enough time and energy to invest in something new and creative, there is a zeal and drive to take on a new challenge and most importantly, deep down, we feel that time is running out. We fear our bodies (and even minds) disintegrating. There are telltale signs of ageing all over our bodies.
So the success stories of women our age doing well in new ventures does turn our excitement buttons on. “If they can do it, why can’t I!” All the positive news gives us courage to take risks, even to those of us who aren’t daring by nature. We are even willing to touch some funds that we have put aside for rainy days.
I am one of the middle-aged women who also dared to start her own venture at the ripe age of 50. After 17 years of teaching, I was ready for an adventure. Ready to take risks. I must admit, that there’s a very naïve side to me along with my overthinking mind. I know it sounds contradictory. I am the kind whose mind can imagine all kinds of horror scenarios, all kinds of how it can fail scenarios and at the end, I get paralyzed by these thoughts and not take a step forward.
But when I did manage to take this step of starting my own activewear brand for women, I don’t think I was thinking straight. There was a fair amount of naiveté involved. A fair dollop of romanticism that I am going to produce activewear that’s right for the Indian woman’s body and give every woman a chance to look good while working out, irrespective of body shape and size. (In general, I am a hardcore realist though) I was excited about the challenge.
I am not from the fashion industry. In fact, I have no background in fashion apart from having a dream in my teenage years of pursuing Fashion Merchandising in the USA. I had drifted into teaching adults when I moved to Switzerland and had done this till one fine day, I decided I was feeling horribly bored and stagnant and wanted a change.
Anyways. I think I have now moved on to my story which you can be assured, is far from a success one. And this is what I want to talk about.
Although the happy end stories of smart women sitting in their smart offices with smiley happy faces are so attractive and inspiring, what we don’t get to hear are the thousands of stories of women who have given their all and failed in spite of being well prepared. Of the innumerable unhappy ends where the women have lost their money and their motivation at the end and given up.
We do read about how the successful ones paved their way to success, their struggles and the tedious paths they followed. The success is so highly glorified (our minds tend to pick up this bit carefully) that we can’t imagine the struggle one has to go through in reality. The umpteen moments when the women reach the verge of insanity, the times when they get into serious money crunch, when all the strategizing and brainstorming do not get the sales that is needed, when all the hope is replaced by despair and gloom. When running at a loss becomes a normal and breaking even seems like a dream. When we want desperately to stay motivated and keep carrying on even when something deep inside wants us to give up.
If I can be very open and honest, most of the women I have seen trying their hand out at entrepreneurship, don’t really have the basic worries of putting bread and butter on the table. It’s when you are in a kind of comfortable position, you begin to think and dream about change and exploring new horizons. For some, it’s even a way to keep busy doing something they enjoy……it doesn’t matter so much if it’s profitable or not.
It is great to dream, to want a change, to want to explore things you are passionate about. It’s just that we should be in love with the process and not just chase the results. We should know what the reality is like, be mentally prepared for all kinds of obstacles. Most importantly, we should be resilient and have the fight in us to push the cause forwards.
Those success stories need to be looked at critically and not at face value. Glorification of successes shouldn’t blind us, even at our age and with our levels of life experience.
- Certified fitness Trainer