My friend and I were talking, as usual. Gossiping, if you like. (Ever noticed how that term stops being a concern after a certain age?) The topics were the usual ones – career, mid-life, family, shifting priorities. How we’re past the struggling-to-love-what-we-do days and are now more or less into the doing-what-we-love phase.

A certain job description that we had a chance to read, came up. My friend remarked that the phrases ‘challenging job’, ‘rare opportunity’, ‘learn new skills’, ‘do you have it in you’ and such always lure a freshman, whereas we “who have seen it and done it all” steer clear of those. In fact, those phrases terrify us. We know what we have, and what we want. We’re past the bubbling over phase. We’re settled, more or less.

And we didn’t just get here by accident. We have travelled our share of the way too.

Two or three years into my software career, I came across an incident that perplexed me. A person with almost fifteen years of enviable experience on his shoulders, quit a large, reputed organisation and joined a small firm that was well on its way to extinction.

A friend explained it to me: “Maybe he wants to be a big fish in a small pond.” I was hearing the phrase for the first time. The idea was baffling, as well. Why would anyone, big or small, want to be in a pond that size at all? Knowing that this particular pond was muddied and drying and unlikely to last much longer? Isn’t a bigger pond safe and fun enough??

It took me all these years to finally figure out the answer. Strange, how perceptions change with experience. No, I guess it isn’t strange. It’s quite natural. I don’t think I would have thought this way – or even imagined myself thinking this way – ten years ago!

Now, the aforementioned friend and I are small fish in a small pond. Or maybe we’re big fish in a pond where all fish are big. But somehow the size of the fish or the pond does not bother us at all…