Living like a template and how I try to break it

Living like a template and how I try to break it

In college, I found the love of my life — Google Calendar. The ability to use colored boxes to demarcate the things that you will be doing for a period of time, being able to visualize how you spend your time, and being “botified” about the next thing on your plate was the first time I appreciated the 24 hours we get in a day. I was in absolute love. In fact, a truly exciting day twice a year was when I would set up recurring event blocks for all my classes. As someone who was not at all organized in high school, Google Calendar soon became the checklist that guided my daily decisions. Checklists have been great for templatizing my life — giving structure to each day, streamlining not just me but the people that have to work with me.

As much as I appreciate how much checklists have helped me, I am equally averse of checklists taking over my life. While giving your week structure is something every working professional should have in the back of their minds, I worry when checklists dictate our life decisions. Because they soon move from becoming things you have to do achieve something, to becoming a formula. The 6 things you need to do in your life that will give you lifelong community appreciation: middle school (check) — Classes 9 +10 (check) — Classes 11+12 studying Science (check) — A college degree in in Science [engineering if you really want to be a stickler for rules] (check) — Job in a multinational corporation for 2-3 years (check) — Masters (check) — Marriage (check) — child(ren) (check)— heart attack 1…2…3 (check). Templates like these are everywhere. There are changes here and there, some outliers choose Commerce (blasphemy) instead of Science or some just have a slipped disc instead of a heart attack, but the template survives.

Templatizing life isn’t all bad. For the most part, it’s how societies function but I worry when the template is being followed too strictly. “Everyone does it, it works for them, so you should do it too, Archit.” These are words that I never heard growing up. Instead what I heard was, “We were forced to follow a template, but you have the privilege to not do that. Just know that if you choose not to follow a template, you will just have to carve your own path.” Words like these from my parents are the reason that I am working at The Mavericks today. While for the first 17 years, I followed the checklist to the T, studying Science too, but college was where I deviated from the template. I started with a parent-friendly degree in Biology and then picked up a degree in Communication enroute as well. From there, I moved back to New Delhi and instead of pursuing jobs in biology (or remotely related to Science) I worked in a mid-sized public relations agency as a Digital Marketing Strategist. The real template breaker seemed to be moving from a mid-sized agency to a brand new startup — enter The Mavericks.

It may seem that I have made these decisions because of my aversion to fit into a template but that isn’t the case. I always try to be as close to the template but opportunities that align with both my interests and skills seem non-traditional, as are the people who find value in my abilities. The Mavericks has a unique ethos with a focus towards creating professionals with expertise based on target audiences. While the work is around public relations and marketing, the team looks at the integrated approach to working in the way it should be. During one of my first meetings with Chetan we discussed the fact that creative ideas are devoid of the medium through which they are realized — implying that regardless of whether a campaign ran on social or on traditional media, the message remains the same. Having been part of just under 50 business development pitches, the inclination of agencies to express the same to clients is strong - often contradicting how the account is managed internally. The Mavericks is trying to break that very template and question why this doesn’t happen. It is this exploratory endeavor that excites me the most, as I begin my tenure here (check).

This article was originally for my LinkedIn Page.