was a single child for the first eight years of my life. They were the best eight years ever. I had everyone’s attention – my parents, my grandparents, and all my uncles and aunts. And then, my sister, Tamana, was born. It didn’t dawn on me that the attention I got would get divided – and not equally. She was the youngest on both sides of the family. It made sense for everyone to give her all their love. I cannot blame my family for loving her however, it made me feel a need to stand out and get everyone’s eyes back on me. I think my bubbly-talkative nature was born and accelerated then. There was no chance for low and dull days. Every day would have to be fantastic, every test would have to be a good one, and every dance would have to be the best!
I usually pick up characteristics, traits and mannerisms from everyone around me. I picked up my mother’s ‘never say no’ thinking and my dad’s hard work. I put them to use outside the classroom and not in my academics. I participated in plays, spoke up in personality development classes, aced public speaking and showed up more often to community prayer meetings.
I wanted to stand out while fitting in.
Even in engineering college, I tried to be different with my MC-ing, event & fest contribution, and even my dressing. But at the same time, I tried to blend in with my class participation, asking for help, making friends, and accepting jokes and banter that didn’t feel welcoming. In fact, on some days, I went to class in my pyjamas and, on others, I dressed up like a boss. Now that I think of it, it was a little weird because I was confidently shy.
Just recently, I started a new chapter in my life. I found a problem statement that I saw my father and many others struggling with and decided to do something about it. I noticed enterprises generate lots of data every day, but in reality, do not use it to expand and grow their business.
Almost a month back, I moved to California for my Graduate studies in Business Analytics and the confident yet shy girl in me became even more evident. Aditya Jhunjhunwala, my mentor in Enterprise India Fellowship used to call me an opportunity magnet. In the last two weeks, I have seen myself be both bold and conservative towards opportunities and incidents that came my way. I met someone in the library here who said they read my blogs and loved my website, and that’s when I decided to start writing again after a year’s break. I could seamlessly converse with people from the industry, my professors and my Deans and build meaningful connections with them. But, when it was time to confront someone about how they let me down, I could not. I knew I wanted to participate in the Student Government, but when I heard it was only for undergraduate students, I did not write to the authorities to let them know I was interested.
I rocked the bit where I had to be the outspoken-confident girl and put my best foot forward. But when it was time to say something when I was wronged or felt uncertain, I was at a loss of words and shoved it under the carpet. The little 8-year-old in me, wanting to maintain her image of a strong girl, could not speak up.
I sit here, watching a beautiful California sunset, sipping my green tea, eating my moong dal halwa, and trying to make myself feel better by writing my feelings down. I made this transition to be a better version of myself and this realization is a safe calling for me to be a little fairer and just towards things that pertain to me rather than only towards those that create my image outside.
My friend Akash Bhalerao, a tree-hugger, pointed out that I could be an opportunity magnet in one context and, as I build a new world, I could take my time to re-calibrate and understand the situation before I emerged victorious and shining.
When we move a plant into a bigger pot, we uproot its entire existence. It takes time to get a hold of the soil and new environment and then start blooming beautiful flowers and fruits. I am that plant, and I will give myself time to find my footing while I pick up every opportunity I find on my way.
Originally published on October 5, 2022, on my 23rd birthday!