I lived with my family in a small, beautiful village. My father was a factory manager, and I remember playing Gilli danda inside the campus. There was a mountain behind our house, and we would go for tracking every evening. I looked forward to my visit to weekly mela since I got a little something extra, unlike my siblings, who had no interest in tagging along. The village had one school which did not offer many facilities or good education. The road to my success had its share of obstacles. Success and perseverance was the key to overcoming these challenges.
Family is an essential part of my life. My husband and daughter live with me in Mumbai, and we bond with each other during the weekend. As for my extended family, I ensure to meet them once a year. Rest of the year, it is connecting over a phone call. Being from UP, or eastern UP, to be specific, my mother never had the opportunity to receive a good education. However, she fought for her children to get a good education and, most importantly, good values. So she has been my inspiration for life. I have also learned from my past experiences and mistakes. If I have managed to overcome my previous mistakes, I can surely take on any future obstacles.
Keeping boundaries is important, and so I believe in maintaining discipline. I do not believe in the line between work and personal life. I don't think there's much difference between the two and that line is almost a blur for me. Taking time off for yourself and your family is just as necessary as work. There was a time when I had to get out of the boundaries I had set for myself. Somehow I believed that I had to take care of everything. I thought that I have to give my 150% everything I do or look weak. Naturally, this did not make me happy.
I had to get myself out of this box, and so, I did three things:
1. I read a lot. I did my post-graduation in psychology after 13 years of experience and learned more about human psyche which is helping me in my job as HR professionals.
2. Self-compassion: I suffered backache at the age of thirty. I realised that it wasn't physical rather I was mentally stressed, there was no me time, no self-compassion and hence my body felt unwell too. Once I changed my thoughts, way of life changed and the pain vanished.
3. I realized that all I had to do was ask for help and asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness This allowed to more time and energy for myself and also helped in creating an inclusive environment wherever I was
We, women, believe that everything is our responsibility. After I realised that every member of the family is equally responsible, I started seeking help for chores from my husband and daughter, and during COVID, he and my daughter divided the chores among ourselves. After all, it's not the 'job' of a woman now.
I have had my share of setbacks both at work and home. I learnt that I need to be connected with people across the levels in the organization. People have their voices, and we have to be empathic about the end-user. It should not be anyone’s agenda but people should own initiatives as their own. This happens when they see that the initiatives are their own and helpful for them.
From there on, I started having representation from teams and what followed was high acceptance and wonderful suggestions. When it comes to disparities at the workplace, I am blessed to be surrounded by a set of open-minded people.
I founded a Lean In Circle, where women come together and share their experiences. During such discussions we come across incidents like when women step up at work, it is believed that it is due to the higher authorities' influence or because they have their own' godfather,' and not because of their ability. If women come up with strategies at work, the idea is considered operational or tactical. The more we move up the corporate ladder, the lesser number of women we see. There is diversity within companies; what's lacking is inclusion. Through this circle, we come together and share our learning and experiences and uplift each other. I find it enlightening that through this initiative, many lives are being transformed.
If I had a superpower, I would want to alter both men's and women's thought processes. This altered thought could help men be more progressive and women to stop thinking that they are not good enough. Being progressive starts from home. This mindset that women should take more responsibility is the starting of a whole cycle. The contribution made by women isn't taken under consideration. When this reaches the workplace, we start demeaning women, which creates an imbalance in the work environment.
There are so many things we have to balance in life while dealing with challenges. Working women should be praised. Even if we are wonderful, we are yet to be fully respected. I would advise that women "Don't wait for certification from others or rely on feedback without validation, as the person offering it may not be capable enough to do it well or articulate it well".
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