How my life changed while working in a start-up

Here I am sitting in Barcamp Bangalore Monsoon 2013 and I wonder how I never thought of writing this post before. Probably nothing until now provoked me enough. During the introduction session over here today, a guy came up and asked a few questions on startups – how many of us work in a startup, how many of us don’t? How many want to work in a start up and how many want to own a startup? And at the end of it he says, “Today I will tell you why not to work in a startup, come and attend my session”. Most of the audience including me cracked up at that however unlike most other who attended this guy’s session, I decided not to for two reasons – 1. I do not want to know why I shouldn’t work in a startup  and 2. I shall take this time to pen down this post.

I work at one of India’s leading startups and had joined this place a little more than 2 years back. I was in the end semester of my Masters programme that I was pursuing from a University in Europe when I interviewed at this place over Skype. It went well and I landed a job at a startup which consisted of only 8 members then (including me).

I did not know what I was getting myself into. I just knew two things – It was my first job (technically, the first place that was paying me a salary) and my parents were not approving of it. I tried convincing them but they somehow gave up on understanding me and let me be on my own. I landed in Mumbai in the midst of August and heavy monsoons. Being a UK return I was disgusted every time the muddy rainy water splashed on my feet whenever I went out. I carried packets of wet tissue wherever I went to clean my feet when it got dirty and a clean bathroom was inaccessible. I was quite a snob.

I joined office a couple of days later and was the only girl there for the next few months. I juggled between my role and tried to fit into anything that required support even in other verticals of the company. In a startup it really doesn’t matter what your post and department is. If it so requires you have to even do the work of a office boy. Over time I started living like a banjaaran (vagabond). I stopped caring about my skin and how I looked. I stayed over at friends’ places that were closer to office and at times when even that seemed far, stayed back in office for days altogether. I rarely looked myself in the mirror and wore no jewelry. I looked like a wreck but my confidence from within was booming. I was a totally changed person and the day I tried to introspect, I couldn’t recognize myself. It was as if my personality had just flipped. As a fresher out of college, I knew much more about the industry and space than some professionals with considerable amount of experience in the field that I was working in. I felt great. I learned a lot and I still am and I know that there is a lot more that I need to learn about. Everyday I am more mature than I was.

Some of the best things in life happened to me during my tenure here so far and one of them being finding the love of my life. It’s rubbish when they say that working in a startup prevents you from getting into a relationship. It happened when I was in the first few months in the company and because I was always there – weekday and most weekends, I found myself someone who was working with me only. My social circle was limited and I knew that time was ticking. I am a relationship person and I love to be in one. And mind you, this was not a relationship for the heck of being in one; this one was for life.

While I have been working here, my personality has evolved and sometimes I surprise myself with the confidence I have. I am no more the girl who feels awkward and sits shy at one corner at every group or gathering. I have learned to speak up – In front of everyone and for myself. I love being the center of attention and I love drama – doing it the most – no i am not a part of a theatre group. More than anything ever, I have learned to appreciate and love myself for who I am becoming and what I am doing. I am proud of it and honestly feel only a handful can live with the pressure that I deal with on a day to day basis.

While I am still here, I am trying to make the most of it. I love the fact that my role here is just not stuck into doing one particular thing. I get to do something new every now and then and hopefully this shall continue till the end. My life has turned around since I joined a startup and if you to want a life like this, join a startup or start one!

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