Career · Random · USA

Being an H4

This post is going to be full of negativity. But I really wana spit it out. If you are having a good day, stop here and move on. If you are having a bad day, hit x and run. :D 

A couple of months back I wrote about pushing the odds and choosing to be positive. I have gone back to read it over and over many times since then. But there are days, like today, when I feel like running away and hide somewhere not wanting to face the world. These are the days that I am angry at myself and sometimes, it gets spilled over to my husband over a burst of messages at work or in person once he is back home. There have been instances where an overdose crept into our relationship.

I fail to convince my feelings even to my dear husband, who loves me to the moon and back unconditionally. He has been (literally) seeing me sailing through this business of being an H4. He just doesn't understand what is that makes me break me into tears for no real reason. He doesn't understand the frustration of having to leave my certificate to rust. He doesn't understand why I am complaining of not being able to work even after giving me a credit card with $$$ limit. He doesn't understand why I am frustrated of not being able to go to office and work when I don't find time for the unfinished art projects I started long back; for those to-do-DIYs about which I keep talking often even after getting all the essential supplies; for the unread books. He is really confused as to why I keep talking about my career even when my hands are full.

There are a few things only an H4 can understand. There are a few things which cannot be replaced by money, comfort or luxury, like one's career. As an H4 once said, independence is the very first thing I lost when I set foot in the land of the free. Anybody who is used to earn for themselves can never really live on somebody's money – be it the spouse's or parents'. You develop a teeny tiny bit of ego somewhere. I initially thought it was just me, my ego. But no. I have talked about this to atleast a dozen of H4 wives across US and have found this to be true. The other day I shared with my husband, a conversation I had with a friend on these lines. He immediately asked why do you want to keep talking about this and feel upset. The reality is, though it is upsetting, it is good to find that somebody understands you; that somebody feels you; that you are not alone. Though it doesn't change anything, it makes you feel lighter at heart.

For those of you who ask me to go out and start engaging myself in something, thank you! I have done / am doing it all. I have picked up new hobbies. I have attended classes. I have enjoyed the me time. I have made new friends. I have invested in my fitness. I have learned to cook new dishes. I have explored the city. I have been blogging. But at the end of the day, that career woman in you gives you a blank lifeless stare. Spending time for the sake of it and having a career are different.

My husband was working in Bangalore when the marriage got fixed. An opportunity to work onsite for two years was in queue then. He had told me about this when we met for the first time. He also shared that he doesn't want to settle outside India. One year passed by and we got married. There is only an year left, I told myself as I clicked the Send button of the e-mail putting up my resignation. Another year went by. He became a critical resource in his project and has been doing well. He was asked to stay back and the company initiated visa extension. I couldn't stop him thinking of his career. Another six months and he was moved to another project. I happened to see an email his then manager sent to his new manager appreciating his skills, how he is a key resource and how he is gona be benefitted in the new project. He consulted with me before taking up the new assignment. I finally nodded in agreement and tagged along. A year in the project, same cycle repeats and the visa is extended for another six months now. Since we don't have long term plans here, we are not going by the GC route. We have decided not to extend our stay anything beyond this yearend. And, I honestly look forward to move back to India and start working. My parents also are not happy about my career life . They keep checking with us on our return and reminds that initial plan was just for an year.

And yeah, I am not denying that the digits on the paycheck is also a factor. We are thinking of saving enough money to afford a 3BHK in Bangalore before moving back.

I have thought of moving back to India alone and take up a job multiple times in this 2.5 years. But again, I wanted to be with him. We wanted to be together. Long distance relationships are not easy and doesn't work for us. We have tried it too. We have had a lot of misunderstandings and petty issues between us when we were living apart. May be, we are not matured enough to handle it.

We go on road trips every other weekends. We have covered all of the major tourist spots in west coast. We live in a beautiful community. We have a good car. We eat out once every week. We catch up with the new movie releases. I update my wardrobe often. I have vacuum cleaner, washer-dryer, dishwasher, microwave, oven etc to make my everyday life easy. My friends in India are just awestruck by the "luxurious life" I lead in US. They match my life to a fairy tale. But they don't know the price I am paying for this. Or rather they don't understand. And overtime, I have stopped explaining.

I have stopped pinging a lot of friends, cos the first question is whether I am working here and the second is when am I planning for a kid. I am tired of explaining them. I am tired of explaining people why we don't want to settle here. I am tired of explaining people why my husband is not moving to a US company inspite of having an H1. I am tired of explaining why I cannot work when the newspapers headlines in India says the spouses of H1s can work now. I am tired of explaining how difficult it is to convert an H4 to an H1.

Also to all my friends who "understood" my situation and advised to get pregnant "to make use of the free time" or forced sabbatical, thanks much!

A dear friend of mine with whom I did training and appeared for finals together in 2013 is still struggling with the last two papers. Another friend is struggling to clear since 2012. My cousin lost her CA finals for one mark today. I had no words for her. All the while I got qualified in 2013 and has kept my certificate in cold storage. Eventhough I feel extremely blessed to be qualified in a few attempts, I am also equally depressed that I am not able to put my knowledge to work. Life is strange.

The news from India about the IT industry are not so pleasing now. I don't really know what will our future be after moving back. But this loneliness, isolation, stagnation and childlike helplessness is punching me on my face every single day here. May be I am just seeing the greenery on the other side. I know it would be hard to find an opening after a career break.

I sometimes stare at the precious appreciation e mails from the office email I had backed up or the ones asking my approval or suggestion or the personal email my boss sent me post resignation. Or the old salary statements in my mailbox. Let out a deep sigh. Sometimes with a tear or two. Smile. And I tell myself, everything happens for a reason. It's not too late to seek a newer world.

PS: I feel so good after pouring it all out here. I would have otherwise spilled it over my husband this evening leaving a bad taste for the rest of the day.

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2 thoughts on “Being an H4

  1. I can so relate to this post…. I was on H4 for a very long time and can totally understand the frustration and all the conflicting emotions that you are going through…. hugs to you.

    1. Thanks for your words MTW. Not everyone understands these emotions. It is so good to hear from someone who has crossed the tunnel. Hugs right back.

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