‘It’s impossible’, Stephanie thought. ‘How can I ever outdo the ‘know it all guy’ who does everything better than me.’
She glared at the man- her opponent, colleague, comrade, as he walked up and down the long carpeted stretch between the cubicles. He was always dressed impeccably. She had been seeing him from past 3 years and had failed to spot even a single crease on his shirt or pant. ‘I wonder if he has atleast one t-shirt in his wardrobe’, she thought.
Shekar, her colleague was always dressed in striped or plain crisp formals, his shirt, only full sleeved and neatly ironed. ‘Everyone else in the company dresses casually… But not him’, she thought bitterly. ‘He has to show off that he is an important person, who has important meetings to attend to everyday’, her eyes followed him, while the scowl on her face deepened.
Sitting at her desk, she took furtive glances at him strutting about busily, interacting with the people he met on his way.
‘Stephanie, Let’s go’, her manager stood at her desk looking down at her while she was lost in the thought.
‘Oh… what.’ She looked at him blank for a second. And then she remembered. Her appraisal meeting was scheduled today.
‘Sorry, I forgot’, she said, looking sheepish and picking up her laptop trying to hide her embarrassment.
‘I know you have tried your best, but to get an ‘Exceeds expectations’ rating you will have to do more… Take more initiatives, add more value, put in more efforts. With your current performance you have only ‘Met expectations’. There are people who are doing a lot more than you’, he said, and before he could explain any more, she said thank you and exited the meeting room.
Tears brimmed in her eyes and threatened to drop down her cheek. Avoiding attention from her co-workers she bent her head down and hurried towards the washroom.
‘Hey Stephanie. We will need you for the JAD session’, Shekar stood in her path and looked straight at her. She looked at him and her tears could not maintain their boundaries. As they flowed freely, for a brief second, she could see in Shekar’s eyes what could be defined as the look of triumph. Without answering she walked past him toward the washroom and there she sobbed behind the closed doors of the lavatory.
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‘I’m not good enough. I have no talent, I don’t socialise enough, I’m not good at inspiring people, not versed at politics…’ she thought as tears streamed continuously down her face. ‘How am I ever going to survive in the male dominated corporate world?’
‘I am not strong or bold enough. I’m not gonna make it’, she convinced herself.
She stared at the words across the screen that pulsed in and out of focus. ‘I am going to marry a rich guy and call it quits’, she decided and clicked on the send button of the resignation email which she had drafted.
‘It is a perfect plan. I am beautiful and young and I am going to find a rich man, just like most of the other women, and have my life sorted. Why do I have to struggle to make a place in the male dominated society?’ she thought. ‘They don’t want me here anyway’.
3 years later:
‘My marriage sucks’, Stephanie concluded.
‘I can’t go on like this forever. I feel like I have lost myself…my identity. Every day I go through with life like it’s a struggle.. like I have not been living for myself. I’m living someone else’s life. This is not me. I have lost all freedom. I feel obligated to do things that I don’t want to. I do not blame my husband, for after all he is a human, and humans value what is valuable. I blame no one but me for being unworthy, for considering myself unworthy and forcing myself and my dear ones to bear with my wretched self. I accept I did not have the courage to face difficulties and tried to find easy way out.
And now just as always I am looking for an easy way out.
I hereby resign…. From Life.’