The Freedom To Choose Your Life After MBA
“Man is condemned to be free” – Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre says that for the same truth in life, each person assigns their own meaning to it. The past cannot cause the present – I am completely responsible for its meaning and my actions.
MBA life ends once and for all in six weeks, and the existentialists on XL confessions are out in full force – corporate life is a sham, sales won’t give me a sense of fulfilment (working for money is so 2004), my work is meaningless yada yada yada.
Such doubts have not troubled me for the past few months ever since I overcame my need for self-actualization and became a Bodhisattva. However, for the sake of a good thought experiment, late last night I decided to explore my options.
1. Sales: Sales is the default factory setting of an MBA career. It is the most straightforward to get into, arguably the most simplistic to perform and therefore easily the least satisfying choice (purpose-wise) to our budding Aristotles over here. Certainly not the right decision if you are out for some good self-actualization action.
2. Entrepreneurship: Founding a startup is the only logical ambition when a deep love of management meets soaring ambition. Unfortunately, it necessitates an almost foolish amount of hard work. Plus it’s unfair. At a time when honest, hardworking e-commerce and food startups are fighting for survival, Snapchat and its dog filters are valued at 25 billion dollars. Who would want to be part of such a perverted system? Not me.
3. IAS: Cracking IAS brings prestige, and prestige brings self-worth. Societal validation is necessary from an evolutionary standpoint anyway, and IAS is the holy grail of societal validation. Even IIM-A grads are losers in comparison depending upon how traditional your parents are.
The only downside here is the truckloads of hard work needed. Plus the lack of money in the role. Plus rural postings. Also, it is all downhill after the superstar treatment received during result week. Do you really want to derive your self-worth from society? Let’s keep looking.
4. Clear all CFA levels and become an elite financial expert, thereby gaining self-worth from the quest for knowledge and excellence: Hahaha. No.
5. Suicide: According to Sartre, you are free to decide that the sheer weight of this responsibility is too much for you and take an absurd decision. Each morning that you wake up without killing yourself, you choose to live and are therefore fully responsible for this decision. So technically this is an option too. Let’s exhaust all other options first, however.
6. Art: Quit everything and follow your passion. The odds of success are really low. You will need to work tirelessly, sacrificing all safety and comfort to keep chasing your fast fading dreams. You will have to fully own your decision. But when a lifetime of underachievement and mediocrity slowly unfolds before your eyes, at least you would be able to face yourself in the mirror and say ‘I gave it a go. I lived. I chose to live.’
I choose inaction for now. All the best for your decision.
About the Author:
Abhishek Tahlan is a second-year student at XLRI Jamshedpur and is part of the InsideIIM student team 2016-17.