“So what do you do nowadays?” an acquaintance of mine asked me in one of my husband’s usual cocktail parties at his friends place. While I was lost in the sea of my thoughts, the question definitely didn’t startle me. In fact, I always ended up saying nothing to questions like these. That’s it, “Nothing, is that it then?” she was rattled. Seeing her reaction – stupefied – I actually replied grinning that I am doing a lot from learning a language to writing full time for international publications and so on.
This recent encounter of mine made me wonder, aren’t there so many like me abroad who have left (read: sacrificed) their plush careers and effervescent lifestyles for matrimony? While continuing to encroach the subject, I feel that we, women who may (or may not) have taken this stance in full liberty or otherwise, are subject to undue remarks, some of which we let pass. Going a step further you somehow get into a bracket, different from other women who seem to working their way off and are reaching new heights in their career. Digressing away from the other successful women, who are wooing the world with their presentations, consulting and coding skills, let us focus on the other lot. The lot in which there are women like you and me, who once had a great run with their work and are right now not working or maybe taking a sabbatical.
What could be the scattered impressions that your friends or even relatives hold of you once you let go of your job and move abroad? Take a wild guess and have a re-run with me.
1. Status quo
The reality bites – the getting into a different bracket thing. Once women leave their jobs and move abroad, they are given the cold shoulder wherever they go; especially when they find themselves face to face with the working class again. They can neither fit into the mould of being a complete housewife nor a working professional. The ghosts of the past resurface again as they are reminded that they are the ones who are not working at the moment.
2. The lucky charm
She is just the lucky one. In conversations citing her, she is termed as just one lucky girl who was whisked away into matrimony. A handsome prince came in his horse and took her faraway in a dream land. Sigh! No one tells the story after that. Going abroad to be with the one you love is often looked at just being lucky and sign of sheer good luck.
3. The plain Jane factor
She is termed as the plain Jane at times who could not do much in life, so she had to get married. Quite an understatement, isn’t? Moving abroad for matrimony for some girls is designated as a sign of being plain. She was the marriageable type of course, that’s why she is where she is.
4. The homely lass
She was always very good with minding the house work, needle work, making different recipes, gardening and keeping the house prim and proper. Those ones are termed to be the perfect face to be married off to a prosperous NRI abroad, for love or otherwise. Her culinary skills are often mistaken for her inability to excel at other things, say working.
5. The not so doing great at work
She worked, she married and moved abroad. Obviously, she might not be doing great at work, right? Wrong! Often married off in the ripe of their youth and careers, women put their careers and a pending promotion at the backburner to be with the love of their lives – Often mistaken to be a sign of their inability to cope up with the work front.
6. Just a pretty face
Some are too pretty to be deemed fit for their homeland. Sounds funny, isn’t? According to some versions, the ones who moved abroad for matrimony were far too beautiful. They are attractive and catch the fancy of prosperous NRI guys who wish for a beautiful partner in return. Unfortunately her beauty becomes a facade for her and works against her. Her beauty actually does not work in her favor and is often looked at a sign of not working.
7. She is not just worth it
Her dependent visa issues, her learning a language to find a job, and her endless interviews in a foreign land seem to go down the drain as people began to feel that she is not just worth it. Setting your foot in a foreign land makes you face several obstacles in terms of job search or visa pursuits, but people don’t seem to get it. So much that people start to feel that she is not worth it. Not worthy enough to land up a job outside her country.
8. Holidaying too much, not striving enough
The Facebook posts, the Instagram uploads, the summer trips and the weekend bashes are often a sign of not striving too much to get a job. Surprisingly enough she is met with comments like “Of course, you are not working dear, you are on a holiday spree!” These folks surely do not know the weather blues, daily housework, craving for Indian food abroad, language and accent issues and neutral friendships that we face.
9. Doing everything else, not working
Your taking up salsa lessons, language classes, swimming classes, gardening, writing, guitar lessons seem futile as you are not working anymore. People mistake your culinary skills to be a sign of having time to while away and not nurture something valuable for years to come. Chances are the women we pin point are the ones who never had a luxury to take a break in their lives or never had the opportunity to learn something they had been passionate about.
10. The endless studying ordeal
“How much will you study?” A friend asked me on my decision to do another Masters from abroad. To some, it simply means getting a degree, for some changing their visa status, to others means increasing their opportunities of landing a better job while some just love studying. Studying and not working abroad is often mistaken as a sign of incapability and not enriching one’s own self.
11. Does she care? Her husband is minting money
Does it matter whether her husband is earning in pounds, dollars or euros? Maybe, but not excessively, at least, not to her. Often people mistake her sign of not earning (or working) to her husband’s great paying job. Of course, she getting a job would not only help them to steer the fortune of life better but also would give her a sense of identity and purpose. Money is not the only sole purpose of existence for somebody.
To sum it up, moving abroad takes a toll on women who leave almost everything, in fact, their identities to be with their husbands. Here is a takeaway, while many may or may not have a say in this decision, chances are that most of them are content in following their hobbies, pursuits and new found passions. While there are still others who are set on the path of reaching their dream jobs via job searches, university studies and visa applications, mostly none of them like the life of nothingness or sitting idle like I earlier exclaimed. Everybody likes being useful.
As women we bear the strength, endurance and unending passion always to make it big in our lives, may it be love, career and hobbies. So we can have it all. So, do we need to answer the rumor mongers or the questions on our sabbatical to anyone? Most certainly not. Revel in your nothingness abroad as that itself makes you complete.
For others who are still adamant on bagging that job, wait till the full moon comes and brings in the tide. Pursue your hobbies, chase those butterflies, be with the nature and pamper yourself, career would surely catch up with you soon.