I often find that I sell myself short. When it comes to doing client work – I’d undercharge, or I’d make the matter of money very trivial – as if it was the last thing on my mind, and be extra eager to please – ‘Haanji, yeh bho ho jayega ji’. Of course I’d realise later what I had signed up for – and have begun to learn the hard way that it is definitely the wrong way to go!
What’s interesting is when I recently worked with a freelance Illustrator for some design work, he seemed to be echoing the same feelings. This was a young guy, fresh out of college with maybe a few months work experience. The work that we were doing increased a bit – but he did not ask me to re-evaluate the quote and I assumed that it was okay with him. Later when it came to the final payment and I asked him why he did not talk about this earlier, he said ‘Mujhe paise ki baat karna achcha naheen lagta’.
And I realised that a lot of us perhaps still attach a certain amount of guilt to the pursuit of money – we guys are still closet socialists. Note that it is not that we think that money is wrong – it’s just that we are reluctant to ask for it. I’m not sure if this was the right phrase to describe this mentality, but here’s what Pavan K Verma in his book Being Indian writes on the chapter on Wealth:
The year 1991 removed the stigma associated with the pursuit of wealth. It buried the need for hypocrisy for the aspiration to be rich … People could now do openly – and with greater effectiveness – what they had tried to do surreptitiously under Nehruvian socialism:find ways to make money for themselves.
Perhaps we (I?) still need to pull myself out of this mentality.
A related post on my design blog: Dihari baandhna mat bhoolo