The Big Jump
Daring a change and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone may end up being much more than only a learning opportunity
A loving family, an amazing group of friends, a safe job at the United Nations, a comfortable life in one of the most beautiful cities of the world – some may say I had everything one could possibly wish for. I agree, and I cannot put into words how immensely grateful I am. Yet, while loving every bit of that life, there was an underlying and indescribable desire to experience something else
As a passionate traveller, I knew the world has too much to offer as not to make the most out of it, if given the chance to. But how to consciously leave a life you love behind? Don’t overthink it, just jump, I figured. For some, a crazy decision, for others, a courageous one. For me, a bit of both. The fact that I knew that the fundamental pillars of my life – my family and friends – would continue to be there for me, wherever I go, and whatever I do, made such decision much easier.
As per my academic and professional background, I wanted to combine the investment world’s efficiency and efficacy with the development world’s goal of strong, equal, and sustainable growth. While researching what my next steps could possibly be, I came across the term of impact investing, which seemed to be just what I was looking for. Leveraging the private sector to give people – most of whom have experienced or at least seen the complex development challenges first-hand – the means to put into practice their innovative solutions. So, I knew what I wanted to focus on next, but where, when, with whom, I had no idea.
And then I came across the IDEX fellowship – the perfect opportunity to smoothly transfer to the world of impact investing, gaining work experience within the sector, while also earning a professional certificate in social enterprise. And all this in India, a country I had first visited in 2006 and since then never stopped loving.
An enjoyable interview (which felt more like an interesting and inspiring conversation rather than a job interview) and a couple of email exchanges later, I received the unexpected, yet even more so welcomed news I was being offered a place in the January cohort. Where I would be placed and who I would be sharing this experience with, I still did not know. Nonetheless, I felt it was the right decision, because whatever I’d be facing, one thing I knew for sure, I’d be learning and developing, both personally and professionally, to an extent that in my comfortable, settled life, I could possibly not.
And so here I am. I did jump, I did push myself outside of my comfort zone. And I am incredibly happy I did. Nearly two months have passed – too quickly it seems (but they do say when you are enjoying yourself, time feels like passing by much quicker!). Has it been two months of pure happiness and satisfaction? No, it has not, of course not – but then again, is life ever unilaterally positive?
Actually, life in Bangalore can be quite difficult at times, whether it is because of the many hours spent desperately looking for a taxi just to then be stuck in traffic, the ever-present alertness when moving alone during the night, or simply the lack of those little luxuries you had back home.
Another aspect that unsurprisingly and inevitably represents a daily challenge for me, is the work I am doing here. Having spent two years in my previous job, I felt quite confident about my duties and responsibilities. I knew what to do, and I like to believe, also how to do it well. Having quite dramatically changed sectors – from communications at the UN to analysis in impact investing – I am facing a completely different environment, as well as new tasks.
At times, I am scared I am not living up to my team’s expectations, as often it’s my first time dealing with given tasks and responsibilities. Other times, I simply feel a bit lost and don’t quite know how to go about it. But fortunately, I am surrounded by extremely helpful and supportive people, that transform such struggles into learning experiences, which after all, is what I was and am looking for.
And by the way, those people are also what make this jump not only constructive, but also enjoyable. People in general (with some rare exceptions, but again, where wouldn’t there be?) are very nice. Whether at work or on the street, they welcome you and try their best to make you feel at ease. The IDEX team in general, Sandhya and Sarah in particular, go out of their way to ensure that we are all doing great.
As of yet though, who made most of a difference, are the other eleven fellows I am sharing this experience with. They couldn’t be more diverse – in terms of cultural and professional backgrounds, age, or simply character wise – and yet, each and every one of them, is simply amazing. We learn from each other, have fun together, hold each other’s back, and so much more. Never would I have imagined making such good friends, some of which I think I can already call lifelong friends.
When I was considering whether to really do this big jump, what eventually convinced me to do so, was mostly the awareness that I had a wonderful family and amazing friends that would make sure, that if I did not succeed in reaching the other shore, my landing would not be a hard one. Back then I didn’t know that I had an extra eleven+ pair of hands ready to catch me, making sure that I don’t get hurt, and helping me to get back on track, if needed.