My story

Here's the story behind who I am today and why I do the work I do. 

 

interested in some psychoanalysis, anyone?

I’ve grown up wanting to understand myself better, to define myself, to improve. In 8th grade I found this website called Tickle that had hundreds of personality quizzes, and I found my very first addiction. I still do the occasional  “Which Grey’s Anatomy Character Are You?”, continue to read about my MBTI personality profile (ISFJ!) but have also done (indulged in?) more nuanced assessments like the Birkman.

While the interest in psychology, human behaviour, self-improvement and self-awareness continued, I couldn’t fathom how that could relate to a career, and much less fathom me having that kind of career. I saw my interest in understanding myself and others as a personal quirk or even a character flaw (indeed, I’ve had several friends tell me ‘you analyse things way too much’ or ‘can we please talk about non-serious stuff?’ So I learnt to hold back that part of me and let it out only when I met fellow crazies. I invested myself in developing the confident, successful version of me that got me more approval and acceptance.

 Back then, I chose Should.   Image from Elle Luna's  The Crossroads of Should and Must .

Back then, I chose Should.

Image from Elle Luna's The Crossroads of Should and Must.

 

IF I'M SUCCESSFUL, WHY IS SOMETHING STILL MISSING?   

I grew up hearing stories of business strategies, challenges and successes at the dinner table, since my father is an entrepreneur. Naturally, I developed an interest in the subject and assumed my career lay in this field (after all, being a Marwari meant business was in my blood). So like the smart and successful girl I expected myself to be, I studied business and got the dream jobs I was meant to get, excelling both academically and professionally.

But something always felt off. Even though I enjoyed my job, there was a voice in my head that said ‘But whats the point? Do I really care about providing that investor with the best analysis possible?' And even when my job involved using my business skills to support social enterprises and felt more fulfilling, the voice asked ‘Is this it? Is this work using all my talents and potential? Is this what I’m meant to do?’ No matter how much I liked my job or how much it made sense, I couldn’t imagine doing it all my life. There was a nagging feeling that something was missing, and I suspected it involved using my emotional intelligence and inclination towards understanding and supporting people.

lost.jpg

 

so I QUIT. but WAIT, WHAT AM I EVEN PASSIONATE ABOUT?

One day, that nagging feeling snapped. I decided I needed to give myself the chance to discover my passions and what I really wanted to do, could do, and was meant to do. I quit my full time job. And fell right into a dark abyss of uncertainty, self-doubt, confusion, isolation, and depression.

But slowly, I started doing whatever interested and excited me, whether it involved going for dance classes or working with friends on projects of mutual interest. Here’s where my love for self-awareness and psychology came to my rescue - it propelled me to do courses and programs that helped me start to understand my true strengths, my passions, and even purpose (lofty words that I didn’t have any answers to before). Through these programs, I met more likeminded people who allowed my to slowly come out of my carefully constructed identity to express who I really am. I encountered interesting work I had never heard of before, and started saying yes to small projects and collaborations despite feeling inexperienced and inadequate in those fields (like creating an online course on self-care or running emotional intelligence workshops at a non-profit). And through these opportunities, I continued to discover what I enjoyed, what I was (or could be) good at, what felt right and why – trying to piece together the clues to solve the puzzle of figuring out my calling.

I am enough.jpg

ready for the rollercoaster of really scary and awesome

I’m not sure about where exactly I’m going, but I know through all of my being that I’m on the right path. And because this path considers who I am and what I care about, I’m sure it’s going to lead to all sorts of awesome, along with plenty of rough spots to keep things interesting. But that makes it sound very rosy and optimistic. The reality is that this path is full of self-doubt, uncertainty and fear of failure. Its incredibly challenging to keep going, allowing myself to just be and accept whatever I can do while continuing to push for more, usually without the comfort of external guidance and validation. I believe these are universal experiences that get hidden behind polished, confident, successful exteriors, and I’m going to talk about them.

For example, setting up this website and blog was a key milestone in putting myself out there and expressing my full self, after a lifetime of hiding and wanting approval. I hope to continue writing, because each post makes me feel vulnerable given the nature of what I write about, and at the same time makes me feel stronger. Because each post is like a vote of acceptance and confidence of myself, with all my imperfections (I constantly have Microsoft Word pointing out inconsistencies in my grammar, but damn it, I’m going to override it and start my sentence with Because!) And each post gives me the pleasure of sharing the discoveries I make in my journey with others, especially with those who long to live more fully as well.

Two roads diverged in a wood…and I took the road less traveled.
AND IT HURT, MAN! Really bad. ROCKS! THORNS! GLASS! My parts broke. Waaah! NOT COOL ROBERT FROST.
But what if there really were two paths. I want the one that leads to awesome.
— Kid President*
*This is from the adorable video 'A Pep Talk from Kid President' (on Soul Pancake) 
We were made to be awesome.jpg

MY WHY: here's why i do what i do

My vision is to have a world where we all can thrive and live to our potential.

However, there are innumerable reasons and complex challenges that hold us back from thriving. Most of these are external challenges, which arise from our circumstances, our environment, our disadvantages, etc. But while these challenges can be the most pressing and critical to address, they are often not in our control. What we can do is address the internal factors that hold us back, which can give us the motivation and strength to power through other challenges. We don't have to stay stuck and unhappy. 

But the thing is, we don’t even know how we hold ourselves back or how to live a fulfilling life. This isn’t something we’re taught in school. We aren’t clear about what we want and need, and we end up taking cues on what we should want from the outside world. We receive so many critical messages everyday, that often we don’t even believe that we are worthy enough to invest in or have something to offer. It’s also difficult to find an environment which allows us to be ourselves, communities where we feel supported and encouraged.

These are the gaps I feel driven to address through my life’s work

I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
— Dawna Markova