Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Path Less Traveled!!!

8 years in this country! In these 8 years, life has changed a lot! And yet, it has stayed the same! I have grown a lot as a person but in my heart of hearts I have remained the same! Necessary life skills like cooking and driving has become less daunting now! I have always thought of myself as a strong, independent woman but I have become even more fiercely independent which somehow also has made me a lot more thick-skinned! With age, I have become less patient with people’s bullshit! I now care very less about people for whom I don’t matter! It has become easier to let go – let go of sadness when I miss all the festivities and gatherings back home; let go of failures – professional or personal; let go of anxieties about things I cannot change (to an extent, at least); let go of people who no longer adds to my life’s experience! 
In this 8 years, I got an MS degree, worked 4 very different types of jobs, paid off my student loans, lived in 6 different cities across 5 states, worked in at least 16 different cities across 11 states and traveled to an additional 15 states, bought a car, saved enough to own a real-estate property back home, brought my parents for a USA tour and cleared my Professional Engineering Exam after brutally failing twice! That’s a handful of items to cross off from my to-do list. I am not one to pat myself on the back, but if I was, this would have been the time! 8 years ago, on this very day, I reached Buffalo with just 2 bags of personal belongings! Now I have patio furniture and about 16 cooking pans of different sizes & shapes in my kitchen! Life is CRAZY!!!! 
But amidst this craziness, some things never change! First and foremost – the love of family from thousands of miles apart. Love that never fails to reach me and surround me with warmth and support! Love that only grows with time and distance! Second is the love of friends, our chosen family! From day one here, I have had incredible friends who were always there to offer me a helping hand! A Lot of them helped me get established here, some helped me get through some tough times and a special few made my life interesting! Some friendship has dissolved now but some has endured the test of time! But all of them, irrespective of the length we were actively friends, showered me with love, care and support – I have been very lucky! And I am forever grateful! 


Friday, July 19, 2019

I am Alive!!! & Why I was gone!!

My dear friends – I am ALIVE! I think, my last post was a well over a year ago! After that, I vanished without any explanations what-so-ever! That was kind of rude on my part and I am really sorry about that! I did not even have the decency to let you guys know what was going on!
So, what was going on? If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I am an Electrical Engineer & have been working in the USA for the last 4-5 years. In my line of work, it is important to get the professional licensure for engineering (commonly known as P.E. (Professional Engineer) License). Because I work for a design engineering firm it is crucial to be a P.E.! There are education and experience requirements to apply for the license. But one major step in the process is to clear the PE exam! It often is the biggest hurdle. It is an 8-hr pen-&-paper multiple choice exam - held twice yearly. It basically tests you on everything in the engineering discipline of your choice – from core concepts you learnt in school/college, experience related questions, engineering economics and ethics, various codes applicable in US and what not! 
So, I first appeared in the exam in April ‘18! It is HARD! Studying for a pen-&-paper exam after many years was strange! For reference, I completed my Bachelors in 2007 and Masters in 2013 so you know it has been quite some time since my college days! Also, I work with numbers and analyzes all day at work! Then coming home and study the same stuff with even more intensity was a mammoth task! I still have a lot of venting out to do regarding the exam, but I will save that for some other day!
Anyway, I FAILED! It mentally shook me! I think I got my result just before Memorial Day weekend last year and just after I posted my last post! I have been always very good in academics! Always a good and sincere student! In fact, I have never failed in any test before (except for my US Driving License written exam but that’s another story)! I have gotten low scores specially in my engineering college in India, but I have never failed before. My mom still says that my neighborhood uncle & aunts still remembers how good I was with my studies and how well I did in my 10th exam! Apparently, it still comes up in conversations! I passed my BE Exam with Honors, & I am not going to lie – It felt like a good achievement! I was a shy, bit weird and introvert kid but being academically good helped me not give in to my insecurities – especially during my teenage years! Insecurities about my looks, about my personality (you know, why-nobody-likes-me, why-I-am-not-popular, why-I-am-not-beautiful types of thoughts!) This confidence that is built from being good in school is something I have thoroughly enjoyed all my life! This is also why going back to becoming a full-time student in an unknown land (I moved to US in 2011 leaving a very secure government job in India) after being financially independent for 3-4 years did not frighten me at all! I think a lot of my strengths comes from this confidence! And no matter how hard it has been, I am able to continue building a steady career! But failing the exam had started to raise insecurities in me; mainly professional insecurities.
So, I took some additional reference courses (which were hella expensive), bought a bunch of books, studied a whole lot more! Day, night and weekends! Re-took the exam in October 2018 and guess what, FAILED again! What’s worst was that I scored even lower than my first attempt! I felt DEFEATED! I started studying for this exam back in Dec ‘17! I am generally an anxious person and this exam genuinely felt like a big burden on my mental being! I don’t have many countable achievements in my personal life (you know, finding a partner, being a mom, settling down etc, etc – things you are expected to achieve when you are my age) so, this whole thing kind of made me question myself if I am a failure? I worry a lot about everything and I panic about necessary & unnecessary things all the time! But underneath all that, I am resilient in nature and even though, I get sad and depressed all the time – there is something in me that helps me fight back, always! This inherent confidence and determination I have, has helped me overcome a lot of difficulties and challenges in my life! But I was losing that trait and that was really freaking me out! It also did not help that everybody I knew who took the exam passed it in their first attempt.
I got my results in Nov, ’18 for the Oct exam - I did not study at all after that! I have not gone home (in India) for almost two years at that point, I had not met my sister for what seemed like a decade, apart from having one or two minor get-togethers with a few close friends I did not indulge in any travels or any hobbies or really anything that brings me joy! This whole process was EXHAUSTING! I was burnt out! Physically, emotionally! I could not decide if I want to keep fighting this and re-take the exam in April ’19! Desperately, I hastily decided to take a trip home! Starting mid-January I spent 5 weeks in India with the family; 3 states 4 cities. It was quite hectic but oh-my-god I really NEEDED it! Came back home mid-Feb and from around 26th of Feb, studied for 5 weeks! The exam was on April 5th and I got the result this week! And yes, I finally, finally PASSED. I had my colleagues double, triple check my results! 😊 The next step is for me to get the actual license which is going to be another uphill battle but that’s ok! But for now I am happy, relieved and a bit overwhelmed with the fact that I don't have study any more! And I actually have time to re-indulge in my hobbies!!
So, that is the story! As you can imagine, I stopped playing with makeup and really did not have much interest in posting anything during this time! Apart from my time in India, during this one year the only beauty-related item I used was one lipstick, facewash and face-creams! That’s it! Also, looking at the seemingly happy life of all the people in Instagram makes me a bit envious (Difficult to admit but it is the truth!)! Also, Instagram was taking a lot of my time! It was so easy to get distracted when I was studying! I kept popping in to like and love your contents. But I deleted all my apps – Instagram, Facebook, Sephora, Ulta and what not! I think it helped me focus on the exam more.
So, thank you for sticking with me during this time! Really! I am still overwhelmed and a bit restless! So, I am still not sure how soon I will be back with a regular flow of things here but, I am excited to have my life back! I now have to remind myself of all the hobbies that I loved to indulge in before this damn exam!

Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful summer!  😊