It’s the eve of what may possibly be my last fully working employee of the finance world.. and I’m feeling insecure. Insecure about leaving the ‘hallowed quarters’ of what many dream of; fearful of having annual vacation entitlements start with ‘1’, instead of ‘2’, afraid that should I so decide to return (albeit unlikely), doors will mock and close on me. In essence, fearing that I’m taking the wrong step.
What was your life plan? When I was younger, I didn’t really have one. I was happy to myself and bohemian-ly so, happy to laugh at people cramming 24-hour case study preparations over weekends, happy to not envy success that I didn’t hanker for. I only wanted to be happy and free forever.
Then my career counselor signed me up for finance as my first job, and the path just kept on going. And going. And going. It took me to a good salary, and an amazing city. Recently, I was given coverage – the holy grail for all associates. But what’s next, I kept on asking myself. More coverage? Five, ten, fifteen, twenty.. when does it end? To be ranked, to be a market mover.. but so what? I don’t really care. In the first place I never really liked the markets. I just enjoy writing, and my job happened to be the most lucrative writing stint on the street. But day after day, I saw my independence of thought go into decline.
Markets, as they say , are rational – and are defined by a framework of ‘rational thinking’ which is, simply put, the amalgamation of multiple people thinking in the same way, or at least skewing their thoughts to fit into that rational framework. In layman’s terms, we are copy and pasting ideas, and there is increasingly less value-add, in our wired world where information is perfect. Anyone can be an analyst. You just need one screen on Bloomberg – the function EEO; Microsoft Word and Excel and maybe a Seeking Alpha account.
I’ve already faced up to the reality that I’m never really going to be excellent in finance – because I want a boyfriend, a family and a dog; I want to get married one day; I want weekends unemcumbered by a Blackberry; I want long vacations; I want life, passion and happiness from Mondays to Fridays, not just the weekends. I have a new vision and a life plan which is mine to grasp if I sign on the dotted line tomorrow morning: to work in something where I am learning continuously, in a line I am familiar with and passionate about, then transfer all that I’ve learnt and focus on The Scarlette, or any new idea that I have. Because life, to me, has always been about creation – creating words, creating projects, creating art, creating idea. Why not work towards a life where I can create something of my own?
So as I contemplate my new future ahead, reassure me – I can succeed at this right? Am I – without all the euphemisms, simply bowing out of the finance world in cowardice?