As a girl of Indian descent growing up in Chicago, I was taught to regularly seek blessings from elders in the family, particularly my paternal grandmother. She would place her hand on my head, and pray that I would be blessed with good health, success in school, and a good home.
One day, I stopped her and said, “But grandma, I already have a good home.”
She gently smiled, and replied, “No, not this home, this is your parents’ home. Your real home will be your husband’s home.”
There were other not-so-subtle clues that I was not living in my real home. I was in the third grade when my family moved into our permanent house. My cousins moved in next door and we share a big backyard with a swimming pool and swing-set, encircled by a concrete track to ride our bikes on. There are two names engraved in all capital letters on this concrete track – that of my brother and my male cousin.
The girls’ names appear nowhere, because we were groomed to be given away to our husbands and their families.
Fast-forward to marriage. Those two years of my life were plagued with emotional turmoil. I shuffled between my husband’s home and my parents’ home and on countless nights, I slept in the car and on friends’ couches. I was running from one place to another simply seeking refuge.
A year and half after my divorce, I was finishing my MBA at INSEAD. By this time, I had lived in two more countries and traveled to some 16 new destinations. As graduation day approached, there was only one thing on my mind: I want a real home.
I want to sleep in the same bed for longer than 2 weeks at a time. I want my own bathroom. I want to connect with a vibrant community, rich with arts and culture. I want my own dog. I want to start a business and be around other entrepreneurs. I want to live in a country that believes the best is yet to come.
So I packed up my suitcase and moved to Bangalore, India about ten weeks ago. I feel at home in the land that my grandparents left behind in search of a new home. The irony of going full circle is still mind-boggling, and yet humorous?
I’m finally home – in my real home. I’m at peace with this current moment and have no urge to use it as a stepping stone to get to the next place.
For the first time in my life, I am in no hurry – no hurry to graduate college a year early, land a job, give back to the world, move to another country, find a life partner, plan a wedding, get married, start a family, do my MBA. I’ve graduated from all of that.
I wake up feeling blessed every day. As I look forward to the future, I am confident in my ability to manage life amidst all the challenges I may face. For me, this is the true definition of happiness; it’s knowing that no matter what, things will be just fine.
This confidence comes from looking back and realizing that even when my life fell apart, I survived. The marriage and the divorce robbed me of my heart and soul, but not permanently. I had a lot of healing to do, but I reemerged and ultimately, I was just fine.
Pursuing an MBA was truly transformational for me, both personally and professionally. After moving to Bangalore, I launched Ace The Fit to offer behavioral science-based consulting services for MBA applicants. Working with and encouraging young, dedicated professionals to pursue their dreams while I pursue mine is synergistically challenging and joyful.
My dreams of entrepreneurship don’t end here. I plan to apply behavioral science to develop an online mental and emotional fitness assessment for children ages 4-14 akin to the annual physical exam required by schools each year. The online test will detect children’s insecurities and thereby create an opportunity for parents to consciously resolve them early on.
Over time, undetected insecurities result in limiting thought patterns and destructive behaviors, and cause long-term chaos and confusion. Conscious parenting is a prerequisite for individuals, families, and communities to achieve their greatest potential. This is what I’m most passionate about, and this is how I envision using business as a force for good.