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Everyone needs “a thing.” One of my friends has a lot of tattoos. One of my other friends sings really well. My other friend plays in a band. Another went to the gym like it was a temple. I don’t have a thing. Well, I didn’t have a thing. I was just a middle-class dude working in corporate America and then corporate India. I was jealous of “things.” In reality, I was just not looking at life in the right way. It’s not, “why didn’t god give me the talent”, whether it be physical, musical, mental, or whatever. It’s actually, why didn’t God (or family) tell me to pursue things I’m interested in. This isn’t a speech about quit your job and go be an artist. Rather, recognise that work is just eight hours of your day. Family also, despite its importance, is not the only thing to worry about. There is a chance that work and family might both suffer, if you’re just on autopilot mode.

For some sure, that thing might be loving the high rise office, the power of being a CEO, whatever. But even the biggest leaders in business have “things” outside their already important“things.” Mark Zuckerberg speaks Mandarin. Steve Jobs was an avid hippy. Gates is saving the world by spending his free time getting bitten by African insects than going to beaches in Thailand. You get it. If you’re like me, in your early thirties and don’t know what your thing is, do many things. Take piano classes. It’s super cheap in India. Start impressing your friends with a few lame Bollywood songs you learned. If after a few months, you’re over it, move on to the next thing. At the very least, you can impress a few people at the next cocktail party. Feeling fat like the majority of middle-class Indians are? (self-included). Hit the gym. Once you realise you enjoy it for an hour a day but don’t want to hang out with everyone there all the time, move on to the next thing. Like cooking? Experiment with some YouTube tutorials. Call your friends or family over to try out your chicken masala or pasta. Save Swiggy for another day. It’s not going anywhere.

App Idea? Spend a lakh getting it done. That money, even if you lose it completely, will be a drop in the bucket later in your life. And what you’ll learn from building it will be a much better education than giving that same cash to a graduate program where you’re just going to do the same thing later anyway. Figure out your thing. The term is called “hobby” but honestly, that sounds like, “hey sign up your 13-year-old kid for guitar classes.” No.

Doing the thing is easy, however, finding it is the hard part. And if you don’t know where to begin, just do anything. You’ll realise, eventually, it will help and improve, all the other things.

— Sanjay Manaktala
(Sanjay is a stand-up comedian who performs all over India. When not performing, he is an IT geek who makes funny videos )


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