I coach my clients on personal branding. Our brand is how we are perceived, and it all starts with how we perceive ourselves. i.e., what’s the story that we tell about ourselves? Because that is what reflects to the world.
So what is my story? Let’s start with some information first.
I grew up in a relatively cushioned way, in a financially abundant family, and protected by my father who took care of everything, and that’s the only way I knew. I had more friends than I knew what to do with, went to a great school, had excellent grades, and everything was perfect.
And then when I was 22, my father fell sick. I can still recall the day I went straight to the doctor’s office from college, to understand the test results from him. My sister and father had not yet reached, and I remember sitting there numbly, alone, hearing the doctor’s voice from far away saying that my father had leukemia. Nothing was really sinking in.
Nothing in my sheltered life had prepared me for that moment. And from then on, it just went downhill. My father kept falling sick, interspersed with a few happy moments when chemotherapy worked.
A year later, just when things seemed like they were getting better, they all ended abruptly. He was gone, right in front of our eyes. And only a couple of my ‘friends’ showed up to support me through this time. All the ‘hanging out’ I used to indulge in before stopped immediately.
The loss of my father was just the beginning of troubles. We soon learnt that his bank accounts were all in his name, and we had to wait a year for access, so the first time in my life, we barely had enough to survive. I was only doing an internship, so I focused on a panic job hunt, but it was hard as I was looking for a job as an art director and I had no training in art. After months of searching, I finally secured a job, and I would hand over my monthly paycheck to my mother.
A few years later, I got married to a man I thought was right for me. Turns out, we weren’t right for each other. He kept borrowing from others without my knowledge, without any repayment plan. Having lived through financial challenges once already, I completely panicked when I heard this eventually.
And then I immediately took on jobs to pay some of it back, but it wasn’t enough and we remained in debt. To top it all, in 2008 we both lost our jobs, we were in Dubai, and we were left with barely anything to survive on. For the 2nd time in my life, I was completely in lack.
And it wasn’t just the financial hardships. Combined with a lack of intimacy, respect, and understanding in my married life, I was in depression half the time. Soon afterwards, my husband also initiated a long-distance separation, and I just kept begging for us to try.
He finally agreed, but also suggested I do an MBA so we can both make a better living. He convinced my mother to mortgage her house so I can get an educational loan for the tuition fees, and he promised to pay for my rent and food during the 16-month program. However, after I went to France he refused to pay a cent.
Soon after, my mother had a critical surgery, was diagnosed with cancer, and my husband filed for divorce the next day. So there I was, no money, no job, stuck in a foreign country, my mother sick, her house mortgaged, my father gone, and the man I thought was my life partner and I could count on, also having left. I also found out he had a bond with another woman.
On a cold winter’s day in Jan 2011, I wondered what would happen if I went and jumped in the frozen lake.
And that’s the minute my life changed.
I knew I was a survivor, I always believed that I was strong, and this brief thought in my head horrified and shocked me...how low had I sunk in feeling sorry for myself? Who was this person, thinking about ending it all voluntarily?
This wasn't me! I am not a quitter, I am not someone who runs away. And what has happened, really, that it has to be so extreme? It was not the end of the world! People go through worse situations. And I was still alive and capable! And so was my very loving family who had sleepless nights worrying about me. And I was not finding solutions, just pitying myself and being someone I am not!
That day I made myself a firm promise. Henceforth, the only way was going to be up. The only thought I was going to have would be of positivity and looking forward, growing, improving. I was going to be in control. Of my life, my thoughts, and my attitude. I had to make a drastic shift, but it had to happen step by step. So I focused and prioritized.
First I chased my university dean till he gave me a job on campus. Also chased L’Oreal till they gave me an internship, and did small assignments for my friends who could then buy me dinner. I balanced 3 jobs with my education, and finally graduated. Worked super hard to convert my internship into a job, lived frugally, repaid my educational loan and freed my mother’s house.
I filed a lawsuit of abuse against my husband, and after 10 months, that finally resulted in a mutual divorce and I started a fresh life. Of course tensions remain with my mother’s illness and those of my family members at times, but overall, things are more in control, even financially.
In 2016 I was made redundant again, and I followed my heart and started doing what I had always wanted to do.
But wait! That’s not the full story...those are just facts!
I don’t just survive, I thrive. I love living my life to the fullest, enjoying each experience, each moment. I lost my father suddenly long ago, and I have lived through some other challenges in my life, but I realize I had also contributed to those events in some way, and they have helped me grow. Eventually I have turned my life around.
Coming from Kolkata, India, which is not even as industrious as Mumbai, from being a 90-kg woman, dressed always in traditional clothes, I am now a woman who has travelled and lived all over the world, carved out her own career, lost 30 kilos, and changed her style and personality to achieve her goals.
I have been lucky enough to live in 4 different countries, get a brilliant international education, have worked in some of the best global companies, and have picked up so many skills that help me in my mission today. I am fortunate to have had the chance to travel to over 40 countries, and interact with people from various nationalities, to have a life where I can scuba dive and enjoy other activities I want. I appreciate all the opportunities I got in journalism, art direction, communication, branding, business, marketing, because this training has made my work so well-rounded.
I now work with people to realize their true potential, feel their unique power, and leverage it to build a strong brand for themselves, which will help them in achieving the growth that they want.
I am an entrepreneur, following my true mission and purpose in life, building great connections, helping others with my true passion of branding + personal development, and also growing myself as person each day through these interactions.
I am very much loved by my amazing family who has always been there for me, and now, have a strong support system of real friends who are there to support me in a heartbeat. I have lost people I have deeply loved, and I remember with fondness all the beautiful moments we shared, and the love will actually never die, but will give me the strength to love again, more deeply.
I have so much more to learn, to grow, a long way to go in life with full of exciting possibilities. But it is this moment, every moment, that is more important. And I am soaking it all in. I have the power to choose my thoughts, my actions, and create my own reality. I am confident, full of love, and no matter what happens, this is going to be me forever.
That is my story, my life, my brand. My power, my light, is within me burning bright, and so it shall remain always.
I could have a chosen a different perspective on life, on my past, but I chose this one, because this makes me feel good, confident, empowered, and above and beyond, this is my real truth. Don't just exist, live. Thrive, be happy.
It was hard work, though, getting here, and telling my story authentically, without using a false cloak of positivity.
Some of the steps I took:
I read a lot of books. About positive thinking, changing perspectives, the human mind, love
I regularly speak to a lot of coaches and have even gotten myself one
I try to practice compassion for every person I come across, even the person who shoves me in the supermarket and goes ahead
I maintain a gratitude journal. Every day I write down 10 good things that happened in the day
Every time my attention goes to what I don't have, I try to think about what I DO have
I strongly believe that I create my own reality. So if something 'bad' is happening, I accept it than fight it, It is happening so that I can learn something from it, and I try to focus on that learning
I have owned up to the fact that I have also made a lot of relationship mistakes, and I have grown from it. With my life partner, I know now, how to act with more love than pain
You have the power to create your story and your life too! You have the choice to narrate how each event has shaped you in the most post powerful way, and realize how much strength and skills you have within you. How through each event you have always made things happen, and that will give you so much confidence and clarity from within! When you reflect that true story and self to the world, that's the energy they will get as well, that's the brand they will perceive and connect with.
But remember, we cannot lie to ourselves. My story, as I wrote above, is 100% true, based on the facts I mentioned.
You have to be authentic, and truly change your thoughts, truly perceive things with power and positivity. Then your story is shaped accordingly and you will realize the extent of your true strength. So own it, and always be #PowerfullyYOU.