My Story & Phase2 of 100 Conversations!
A lot of the participants have asked me to share my story. I think it is only fair that I share mine when so many wonderful women have shared their stories with me so generously!
My story isn’t out of the ordinary. However it helped me discover and create the person I am today. It helped me learn how to express myself boldly, share my gifts and get onto the path of creating the life of my dreams!
While almost everybody I talk to, fondly remembers their childhood and teenage years, what I remember about my childhood is fear, insecurity and anxiety! My father had done very well academically, I was proud of his achievements and the high benchmark he had set had somehow become my goal. His struggle to educate himself in an environment of extreme poverty had instilled fear in me. The belief I had formed was that poverty makes one helpless and the only way out was to study very hard. My fear was that if I don’t do well, I would not be considered good enough. I would end up becoming a nobody! So I didn’t even think of what I truly “wanted” to do. All I did was study feverishly to get good marks. And when I didn’t get the kind of marks I wanted, I would feel defeated. I didn’t enjoy studying because my mind was always trying to remember stuff that I had to write in exams rather than understanding and appreciating what I was reading.
What truly attracted me was understanding how the mind works. I often wondered if there was a way to discover what each one of us were brilliant at. How can each one of us be the best version of ourselves. I would often go through my parents’ wardrobe, look at all the fabrics, their colours, textures and wonder how I could mix and match stuff to create something unique. I loved dressing up myself in ways I felt represented my inner self and made me feel powerful! That was what I enjoyed the most but I knew that wasn’t a subject that existed so all that I would create went back in the closet and I would resume studying. The saga continued, year after year and I graduated as a Chemical Engineer. I am grateful for the good education and have high regard for the degree I have but deep down, I knew I wasn’t meant to be a Chemical Engineer. I didn’t pursue Chemical Engineering as a career. I ended up in the IT industry. I was fortunate enough to work with some great companies like Dell, IBM and Unisys. Some of the most satisfying phases of my 13 year long career in IT were those where I led teams of varying sizes ranging from about 15 to 700. I enjoyed helping my teams excel. It gave me great joy to see my team members grow.
A turning point in my career was a role where I was heading a team of coaches and underwent a certification program to become a coach myself. The techniques I learnt as a coach helped me bring about positive transformation. It helped me drive forward action and derive performance. The magic of coaching continued to work as I grew up the ladder. It worked no matter whom I was working with. I was finally getting an opportunity to understand how the mind works but that wasn’t my core deliverable. Most of my core deliverables were related to stuff that I didn’t truly enjoy. That child in me still craved to do what I loved doing. I began feeling that life is passing by, little by little each day and I still haven’t done what I love. In an attempt to stay focused on my career and attain conventional success I had put my life on hold. I hardly had time to meet friends. I couldn’t squeeze out time to even choose my wedding outfit because I was too caught up with work – this was in spite of my love for clothes! And now those wedding pictures where I wasn’t dressed the way I wanted to, haunt me!
Once I got married, stepping out for dinner with my husband would sometimes become tough if there was something critical at work. If one were to use the conventional yardstick to measure success, I was a successful, high achiever but deep down, I wasn’t happy. I was constantly operating from a place of fear and insecurity.
However, life unfolded and a new phase began in my life as I stepped into motherhood. Like most new mothers, I came across several challenges. The biggest challenge being care for the baby while I would be away at work. I felt there could be no substitute to my own care for the baby and hence I decided to quit my full time job. During the days that followed, I spent time connecting with myself. I decided to squeeze out time to do things that I loved but didn’t have time to pursue during my working life. I invested significant amount of time in reading and learning about how people show up in ways that make them feel like their true selves. Another aspect that interested me was understanding what made certain people more successful than others, why some people have more self-belief than others and what are the crucial aspects of an individual’s self-image which can put one on the path of fulfillment and true self-expression. I grew more and more interested in transformation and its role in one’s success in personal and professional life. This interest led me to formally study Image Consulting and combine it with my passion for coaching to set up my own unique practice.
As I sit back and reflect on each phase of my life I have discovered certain insights that I’d love to share :
Insight#1 – In the pursuit of my career, I suppressed the woman in me who wanted to dress up for her wedding go for dinner dates with her husband! My roles at work needed me to bring out my authoritative self and in the process, my feminine side got suppressed. As time passed, I began missing my feminine self!
Insight#2 – In the process of trying to get visibility for academics and my career, who I was deep down never came to surface. My inner self, my biggest gifts and my true passion remained unseen!
Insight#3 – The drive for results at work definitely paid off and I got the promotions and the roles I wanted but there were times I missed getting love and appreciation for the I person that I was deep down.
Insight#4 – I had associated power with external stuff – money and my career. I can trace back this association with my childhood beliefs that I would be a “nobody” if I didn’t have a conventional career. The external association brought with it fear. Fear that if I lose my career and money I would be a nobody. Giving up my career to spend time with my daughter helped me discover that I can operate from a place of power within myself – my creativity, my gifts! I am my own person, I am unique and so I will never be a “nobody”
Insight#5 – I didn’t seek support. The idea of seeking support made me feel vulnerable. I felt it is hard to find someone who is not biased, non judgmental, understands you and listens to you without giving advice. But I wish I had reached out for support! Today, I want to be that person for others – someone who listens and doesn’t judge.
Insight#6 – I felt guilty all the time. When I was at work, I would think about family and spending time at home. When I was at home, I would be thinking about how fast things were moving at work – the next big idea that could get me more visibility or the next big problem to solve (and maybe in the process create another interesting one !
My journey has helped me learn how to zoom out, take a 360 degree view of my life and understand how to stop operating from a place of fear. All my fears, insecurities and self-limiting beliefs kept me away from being “Present”. In the process of trying to “succeed”, I had stopped looking inwards. The moment I slowed down to look inwards, I discovered my true gifts and learnt how to operate from a place of power that lies within me. That is such a happy place to operate from! It changes everything. That is the secret to discovering and showing up as the best version of oneself!
Today, I am grateful that I went through this journey because it helped me discover my true passion – helping women build a confident presence by bringing out their inner brilliance such that they express themselves in the most authentic and magnificent way and operate from a place of power within them!
I would love to hear if some parts or maybe many parts of my story are similar to yours. I am curious to know if all women who aim to be high achievers have confessions like mine? What holds you back from operating from the wonderful place of your inner super-power? If my story resonates with you and the idea of creating your ” impactful presence” around your “unique gifts” resonates with you, reach out to participate in phase 2 of “100 Conversations”!