Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pushing Past my Fears


I am going to write for myself today. I am going to push past my fears and write.

About feeling guilty, having low self-esteem and in all this feeling lonely.

July and August were months of hustle. We were creating something out of passion and worked furiously to launch India’s first dance inspired online store.  It has been received well. Since the launch, we have had a steady average of one order per day, which to me shows promise. As I write this, I have two bulk orders come in. Pushing forward, we’ve taken feedback from customers and are working on the next range of products which will be coming out soon.

Hustle. Harder. You. Will. Get. There.

But Where? Where exactly do I want to be?

Somewhere in the last few months - pushing myself, getting things done, creating endless list of to-do’s and ticking them off – I got disconnected. Disconnected from myself, from the bigger picture and purpose.

I did not stop to reflect. I kept floating. Without being self-aware.

“Lack of self-awareness renders us transparent; a soul that knows itself is opaque.”
- Bruce Lee

So, while everything seemed perfectly fine from the outside, I was crumbling from the inside. And last week I had an emotional breakdown, a terrible one. And it has taken me a while to come around it, understand the reasons behind it and address it.

Statue of Attila Jozsef - Hungarian poet. Budapest Parliament in the background.

Living with Guilt

Since I moved to the United Kingdom, I have had a sense of guilt. My business, clientele, team – everything is back in India. And though I know I am being harsh with myself, I can’t help feeling like I’ve left them behind. The fear of letting them down is huge, so much, that I try to overdo, overwork and overcompensate for everything.  

There is nothing that I don’t do from here – managing the team, customer service, negotiating with clients and suppliers/manufacturers alike, managing social media for the business, content creation, editing, interviews – all this and more is hugely my responsibility – which I do pretty damn well, if I can say so myself.

Two things have happened because of me trying to deal with my guilt (wrongly)

One, instead of owning the business, the business is owning me.

While I’ve made the shift from a 9-5 banking professional to an entrepreneur, mentally I have yet to cross the bridge from being an employee to a CEO. And feeling guilty is making this journey even harder. Who am I trying to please, or get approval of? Wasn’t working for myself one of the reasons that attracted me towards creative entrepreneurship?

Going about my business with the mindset of an employee, isn’t helping anyone – not me, not my business partner, not my team and not my clients.

Two, I have stopped doing the things I love most – writing, blogging, dancing…living.

While pursuing any of my other interests, my thoughts travel back to the business and that results in me completely shutting down.

I’ve made myself available 24/7, mostly to suit the time of my business in India. If there is a contest or a giveaway going up, a client call, a team conference call – I am there, even if that means waking up at the crack of dawn. And I should be there. But I should create some personal time as well. I deserve that.

Dealing with Guilt

This past week I have done a lot of introspection, searching for causes, analyzing them. It is now time to address them.

All this time, I have been brushing off my feelings. And that hasn’t served too well, now has it? So, the first step was to talk about it, and writing this has already proved cathartic. I have been able to rationalize and wade through the many feelings and streamline my thoughts.

Second, is to communicate with my business partner (D) in a proactive way.  

I have been doing a lot of thinking and remembered an incident that I believe has contributed to this feeling of guilt – it was when we had made an investment error and purchased the wrong set of fabric (which till date hasn’t seen light of the day). Perhaps in a moment of frustration, D was quick to point out that I wasn’t there to help him make the choice, which in some way led me to believe that yes, it was my fault.

 Now and then, when he’s on the field work he points out what’s missing in the picture – me.

And though I point to him that we both can’t be doing everything – that we have our works divided and that is the only way we can get things done, that it doesn’t matter where I am – clearly, I have let it bother me.

A few days back I broke down over the phone and sensing my grief D said to me, (paraphrasing here) - “This (our business) is not your entire life. If things don’t work out, we will keep living.”

This has given me hope that he would understand my predicament, and communicating with him and making him see beyond the black and white is how I can deal with my guilt.  

Third and the most important, and on which I have the most control, is managing my time better. I need to shelve off time for my writing, blogging, personal growth and health. I have my work week scheduled for this week, I have slotted my hours to include both business and creative passions. Writing this piece was the first thing on it.

All I need to do now, is stick to it. Make an authentic commitment to myself.

instagram.com/aditi_kaushiva

Living with such guilt is draining; it is damaging to self-esteem.

Cultivating Self-esteem

Traditionally, our worth has been defined by our careers and our incomes. When I left my job, I never realized that having no regular income would ever affect me in the way it has.  I am yet to break free from the mindset of being an employee. It is difficult, yes, but I need to keep reminding myself that at the end of the day it is me who assesses my potential, my achievements and in turn my self-worth. I need to tell myself, I am enough.

The only voice I need to hear, is mine. The only standards I need to live up to, are mine. I am enough.

Letting People In

With all these pressures of making-things-happen, with all the fears that I was ignoring, I started staying more and more inside my head and started to feel really alone. I had pushed myself into a corner and I didn’t even realize until one day I had a panic attack. I thought I was going to lose my mind and I needed to talk things out to clear my head. It is when I contacted a fellow writer and friend and we met for lunch. I felt better, but still hollow. So, another day I met up with another friend, a freelance dancer, and we spoke at length about our insecurities and our dreams.

Now that I have a fresh pair of glasses on and can see things in a new light, I can talk about this. I spoke to my sister yesterday, who is my biggest cheerleader, and she reminded me how important it is to surround yourself with people who matter.

I have people around me, whom I can trust with my wildest dreams and darkest fears, who perhaps in their own journey have or are going through similar struggles. I need to let them in. I need to tell myself that it is okay to reach out to them for help. 

I am a work in progress. My fears and insecurities won’t just magically disappear, but I believe opening up to them is a step forward.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
- C.G. Jung

I admit, I have avoided facing my fears for so long that I made myself believe I was free from the darkness. I have always said – Happiness is a choice. Positive thinking is a choice. But confronting the darkness is also a choice. I have finally made that choice. 

8 comments:

  1. Hugs Aditi! Fist things first, amongst all those people who give up on their dreams I feel so proud of knowing you who has given her all to her passion. Second, I’m glad you found the answers. It’s easy to blame ourselves and take that guilt trip. What’s hard is making the right changes to set things the way they should be. Like you said, happiness is a choice. Now that you have chosen it, don’t let it go.

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  2. A big hugs Aditi for writing such a brave and honest post; its good to note that writing has proven to be the catharsis here!! You sound such a pro woman; I admire you for your crazy insane guts to firstly take this freefall plunge and secondly being able to be so god damn objective about your drawbacks in it!!! This is another brave step you have taken and I wish you all the best in continuing this dream but making space for a personal life too!! I am looking forward to reading more of you!!

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  3. Hugs, Aditi! You really have the courage to admit it all here, admit your fears, your drawbacks and your insecurities and also learn where you have been going wrong. And, that, my dear, is half the battle won! You really need a break, my dear. Take care of your health first and the rest will follow. And, yes, take one day at a time....one moment at a time.That's something I have been learning, too!
    Wish you the very best, sweetie...Take care!

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  4. I can't even imagine what that guilt pang must have done to you. One thing that you have admitted with such honesty is that it definitely robbed you of your right to breathe free and do the things that you love to do in a free space and with a free mind. Love you loads my dear and by admitting it all and with what D said to you, I am now sure that life will be just awesome. I keep learning so much from you...... Stay blessed and ever cheerful

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  5. Aditi..so good to see you back to writing. It is a difficult phase for you with so much transformation. But, it is a significant part of your life, not your entire life though. As an employee you could shut off mentally over the weekends. But as an entrepreneur..it must be difficult. Make some changes to your approach and do not burn out. This is just the beginning though it is the toughest. Best wishes and keep following your loves.

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  6. Such a brave admission of your fears and failings. You had the belief in your dream and in yourself, you have the courage to confront the darkness, you will definitely come through this phase. Lots of love and hugs

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  7. I'm glad you are introspecting Aditi. It takes a lot of self awareness to realise that you are unhappy with the way things are and it is the first step towards happiness. Time management is the hardest thing for people with multiple passions. I hope you find a happy balance soon.

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