“Professionalism” as a protocol is probably defined only in terms of what cannot be done. The void left by continuously following such incoherent instructions is bound to take toll on the psyche of an individual choosing to understand the system.
The particular incidents that have triggered this post are all rooted in 3 different recessions. Every recession leaves a lifelong impact on lives of billions but most tend to forget it as an anomaly. But that anomaly cannot be amortized for that specific duration and ignored. Addressing its impact in the everyday life is the only way to reach some sort of peace. To discover this impact one needs to be able to express the emotions triggered by these cataclysmic events. Ironically, as a professional one is educated to analyze such debacles but never allowed to express the grief and anger that this knowledge brings.
Tertiary wave of Dot-Com bubble (2001)
The first recession was the market correction of “Dot-com bubble”. As a student just starting engineering the panic was relevant but the consequences were not very clear. The world was dealing with the panic of terrorism. The limited news mediums were covering the political events in such great detail that the actual brutality of the job loss was limited to aspirants and people within the industry.
It was a man made crisis. Being optimistic was easy. Ignorance of believing that “some incorrect marks in HSC exams is a minor setback or bad luck” can do wonders for your morale. In retrospect, I can only say, don’t try this at your home. It took 3 years of disciplined effort to become eligible for campus interviews. And suddenly one evening in first week of final year I had a job.
Considering it as redemption seemed logical since everyone around claimed so. But there was something missing, it brought happiness but not peace. How could over 1000 days of efforts be validated based on a 30 minutes conversation?
Secondary wave of Mortage Crisis (2008)
The second recession was the global economic meltdown. It triggered by the bad mortgage instruments being oversold in the markets. As a partially funded research assistant I was able to sustain immediate shock financially. But the infrastructure needed to make decisions and experience to undo the tag of mediocrity gifted by the system in previous recession had vanished overnight.
Again it was a man made crisis. It was easy to be hopeful being ignorant about the complexity of financial instruments. It took over 500 days of waiting for response of close to 4500 job applications to come to terms with the reality that degrees sell not knowledge. Eventually I decided to move on and return home for a fresh start. I received the last response for a position closing in 2015, six years after I had applied.
It was easy to blame others for the circumstances, but I knew better. This failure was a direct consequence of trying to be exceptional when system had already tagged me as mediocre. Even today I have to answer why I came back before ( if at all ) anyone asks what my thesis was all about. The decision to return home brought momentum but never the peace.
Primary wave of Covid-19 Pandemic
The third recession is the one building up as a response to the unprecedented circumstances created by the global pandemic of COVID-19. If previous two failures have taught me anything, it is, you can’t always be prepared.
Yet again a lot of misery is man made. After 10 years of relentless execution of professionalism with less that 30 days of personal leaves, on 31st March 2020 at 9:10 AM, I was informed by a voice in a conference call that my position was being terminated with immediate effect.
In a fraction of second, every definition of professionalism I had ever encountered in past 19 years was proven incorrect. I felt betrayed and yet I had to convey my gratitude. Yet again I was at receiving end of a broken system but I could not express my grief. The toxicity and apathy hurled at me is inhuman but still I will be forced to justify it for the rest of my life. As a professional, I will be held accountable for remaining silent but what about the decision maker’s accountability?
As long as I choose to pursue excellence, professional catharsis seems unattainable and yet I will continue the quest, I have to. There are enough trending words that eventually mean empathy but how many professions acknowledge their lack of it and how many professionals choose to practice it?