As a Female Entrepreneur and Professional from South Asia, I get asked this question multiple times. How did you do it? Did you not face resistance? Do you not feel threatened? When people from Western Societies ask me this question, I understand where they are coming from because they only have access to the limited biased information they receive from media outlets. So I suppose they are surprised I am not at home breeding and cooking.
But when people from the sub-continent ask me this. I have two reactions; one for women and one for men. Men ask because almost always they are mocking me (Yes, not all men are like that). Some are genuinely interested in how I did it. I give them the same response as I give to my ladies. Women ask because they want to know what I did differently from them or what opportunities did I have access to that they didn’t. I understand where they are coming from. I hug them or smile and give them these tricks I have learnt over the years as a Female Entrepreneur in an Eastern Society.
So here’s what I have learnt over the years and am still learning each and every day as it comes.
1. I AM IMPORTANT
When you are handling multiple threads in your life such as: your family (Parents and siblings), Your Education and personal Development, Your Career, Your Romantic Life (With a Spouse or otherwise), Being Married, Having Children and Dealing with In Laws. It is important to understand one more being that you are forgetting about and that is you, yourself.
I tell this to myself over and over again when I am trying to be super human. I am important. My health, mental, emotional and physical is also important. I am important. Over the years now I know, if I am not okay, no one else can be okay. If I cannot take up my these battles everyday because if I am not me, everything will fall apart.
So it is extremely important that you take out time for yourself. You evaluate every decision in your life first thinking how do you feel about it and how does it affect you in the long run. Saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable will in the long distance not only damage you but your relationships and responsibilities in the long run.
2. I AM NOT APOLOGETIC
This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt and the one I share first with everyone.
Something I learnt not just when I became an entrepreneur but also when I was working in a top-notch company in a high paying position. I am no longer apologetic for anything I do and who I am.
It does not mean I have pride and no empathy. I just refuse to be boggled down by what people think of me or what they think I should do. I am always open to good advice and even criticism but I now also know when someone means to help me when someone just wants to inject negativity in my life.
I have finally become comfortable in my own skin and I own it. I own my mistakes, I own my victories and I own myself.
3. I AM NOT WEAK AND ITS OKAY TO NOT BE 100% AT EVERYTHING EVERY TIME.
Just because I cant be a super human and be a perfectionist at everything does not mean I am weak. No Sir. I am yet to see someone man or woman who cooked, cleaned, raised babies with morals and ethics, educated themselves, had a fulltime career, Was an entrepreneur and had a happy successful marriage. I am not saying you cannot have all of this – I am just saying you cannot have all of this happening simultaneously every hour of the day.
As Shonda Rhimes put it ‘Shonda, how do you do it all?’ The answer is this: I don’t. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I am probably blowing off a script I was supposed to rewrite. If I’m accepting a prestigious award, I’m missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.’
4. HONESTY ALWAYS
I learnt it when I was a child being raised in a relatively liberal but most importantly unbiased family. I learnt to not judge people, to not backbite and then to be honest. No matter what we did, we were just honest. It made us confident. It made life simpler. It’s not always easy to be honest, but it’s so much better than to lie. Because whenever I find myself lying, I have to keep lying later to cover up that lie and sometimes you just lose count and the context of what you lied about.
I don’t lie when I give advice. I don’t lie when i tell people how it is. It sometimes at first instance may not be the popular vote, but it has helped people to understand me and what to expect from me.
5. I LEAD A PURPOSE-FILLED LIFE
I have stopped being raised and treated as a cattle or a commodity. I had the opportunity of not being treated as a commodity or as a non-personal with feelings and a brain when I was being raised in my family. My parents had always had a mind of their own and so did i.
When you have a purpose defined for yourself, goals to lead your life. Small things don’t affect you. Small distractions, quarrels that belittle your purpose and waste your time, irrelevant issues that can be very well ignored; All of this falls in place ONLY when you have a purpose lead life.
So find your purpose, believe in it and plan it. Don’t give up when plans don’t go your way. Nothing ever turns out the way you want it to be. But that’s the beauty of life to do well with what you get. Make Lemonade out of the lemons that life gives you!