Living in a world where success is measured in numbers

SNEHA AGRAWAL, Daayitwa Fellow 2021

My career and the journey in finding the purpose of my life have been a roller coaster ride. Similar to many of my friends and millions of people, I have switched my career and aspirations multiple times. When we are 15/16, we are expected to know what will be good for us or our life’s purpose. This is hurled on our faces by placing three options in front of us- Science, Commerce, and Humanities. What will a 15-year-old know about these, especially when there is so much to explore in the world and within ourselves? Meanwhile, Commerce and Humanities are frowned upon by our families, relatives, and society. 

Just like most of you out there, I decided to gamble with the stream. Too terrified to take science and too mortified to take humanities, I opted for commerce. Little did I know that it would be completely different from my humanitarian inclination about my country and the world. Little did I know that a 19-year-old girl would have had very distinct aspirations about the world than a 15-year-old. “Go With the flow” hearing that again and again, I felt lost, lost in studying something that didn’t excite me, didn’t make me feel good about myself, didn’t make me want to do anything apart from the given course material. However, I kept going because that was what I knew best. 

I got into my dream college, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. The second week of college, I realized this wasn’t even my dream, it was everybody else’s dream which had been unconsciously implanted in me. I was lost again but this time I was ready to explore. Me and the world. I tried every possible way to find my purpose in life and align that with my career. But what is your purpose in life? Aren’t we all seeking the answer to this question?

Three years of my graduation came to an end and with this, I had realized I didn’t want to continue to work vigorously just for capital, rather I wanted to invest my skills and work towards something which would have an impact especially on my own country. Lost in mayhem and despair, I had started to get agitated, frustrated, and scared. These three years, I had received the answer to my question “What I do not want” but not the answer to “What do I want my life to look like?”

While everybody around me was getting into the world’s best MBA courses and corporates, deciding to leave my corporate job, I opted to pursue Development Studies. With the notion and intention of coming back to my country and making an impact, I decided to study theories I never thought I would. Trust me, it’s not facile to explain to yourself, parents, and society that you will twill ties and probably never earn as much as your friends will. 

Two years glided with its turbulence, but this time, I knew what I wanted. One thing that was clear in my head was that I would work for the development of my country. At this point amidst the pandemic and end of a master’s degree through online studies, I was prepared that getting a perfect place would be challenging. I might not be satisfied with what I will be pursuing here. 

Similar, to how all job searches go, being on LinkedIn, checking all social media platforms, talking to your networks, I came across the Daayitwa fellowship. Some kind of relief coursed through my body as I read the list of intriguing projects one after another. A final round of chills ran again when I came across the project on migrant returnees and their integration in their home country. 

Since April of 2020, the issue of migrant workers was highlighted all over the country’s newspapers, television, and academia. Stunned and appalled by the struggles of migrants in their own home country led me to explore this issue even more. Since then, I have wanted to read, write, and do something for the Nepali migrants living in all the corners of the world. What was it like to not get accepted in your own country because you carry the stigma associated with the unknown virus? What was it like to come back abruptly with immense financial debts on your shoulders? What was it like crossing rivers and getting stranded on the borders because your home denied accepting you?

While filling the application form as well, all sorts of questions were surging in my head. Am I making the right decision to come back to my country? Will the people around me get a chance to tell me “I told you so”? Will I be accepted? How is the work culture going to be? What about diversity?  

While my brain was flooded with never-ending questions, I got respite when I received the acceptance letter for the fellowship. At least, I knew that there is a new challenge ahead of me and this time, I will make the best out of it. Through this, I was getting a chance to do some time for the people who deserved justice. Who does not deserve to be stranded and starved to death? Who does not deserve to leave their home and family in search of money? Who does not deserve to get exploited, tortured, and trafficked in a foreign land?

All the doubts were dissolved when I met all the fellows and seniors during our orientation. I was astonished to meet such like-minded people in the organization, who felt the same. All of them left behind various encounters and chose to be here because all of them believed in change. A change that could transform our nation. 

As our training sessions progressed, I became more and more confident of my decision. One month into this journey with Daayitwa, for the first time in my life I was not lost. I know what I want for myself and my future. Even though one can not be sure of where they are going because life is all about uncertainty. I am prepared for the long journey that is to come. That one month in itself was not free from challenges because a lot needs to be done. However, this is the beginning of the road and I landed up in the perfect spot. 

It all started when I took the road less traveled. When I stopped going with the flow. When I stopped accepting all the injustices around me and that is precisely when I found myself and my dreams. A dream to serve my nation. 

Astonishingly, when we take one of the obscures, less-traveled roads and not follow the crowd, we find the best-hidden places we could have never imagined. 


For An Enterprising Nepal