We live in a society where women have specific roles designated to them since birth such as daughter, sister, wife, and mother. Clubbed with these are the roles a modern woman plays in the professional front. Needless to say, juggling so many roles, ‘pre-defined’ by society is rather demanding. And things tend to become even more complicated when one faces a major financial, personal or health challenge. However, there have been enough examples of women who have tackled everyday challenges in the book head-on and then come out on top. Such stories inspire us and make us believe in ourselves.
Rashmi Chada, 33, founder of Wovoyage, which focuses on women travel, met with a major accident in 2011. She was admitted to ICU and became conscious after six days. She could not understand at that time what happened to her, but she knew something was wrong. She could not hear and there was a constant voice buzzing in her ear which she later got to know was Tinnitus. It is a condition where one has the perception of noise or ringing in the ears and an underlying condition, such as ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. At the same point of time, she lost her left eye vision along with multiple injuries.
“Having all these problems was a huge shock for me. My hearing aid did not work. When everybody said that there is no hope left, I kept my hope alive,” says Chada.
She did her own research and started on her journey to get better. She trusted the process and delved into spirituality and ayurveda which helped with her treatment.
Chada used to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and do eye exercises and many more chores, completely believing in herself and not letting negativity affect her. “During this process, my friends and family stood by me and believed that I will be fine soon. I am partially deaf right now and have refraction issues but I have come a long way and I am fully convinced that I will reach my destiny,” she says.
Anika Parashar, 40, a single mother of two, Nirvaan 14, and Inaya, 12 has been through a lot.
“I have been a single mother for seven long years. There was a time when my mother had a heart transplant, my brother was not well and I had to manage a lot of different fronts at the same time”, she says.
Now, her son has his exams, her daughter is having a viral infection and they are also changing homes.
“When you are a single mother, you are the only parent of your children. So, a lot more balance needs to be done- whether it is their schooling, their academics, their extra-curricular activities, their doctor appointments when they are sick. There is nobody to turn to."
However, Parashar has taken things in her stride. “There are going to be ups and downs but nothing is constant except change itself. I think that we need to try our best and focus on what we want but at the same time surrender to what life offers us. I think there is a little bit of beauty in balancing hard work and determination, manifestation and belief that the universe is looking out for you,” she says, sounding a tad bit philosophical.
Nandini Chandra, 30, a digital marketer with Kristal.AI, India’s first robo-advisory platform to provide access to both global and domestic ETFs, had to struggle a lot.
One of the challenges was managing finances. Chandra comes from a lower middle class family. After her father passed away when she was 14, they have been through a critical time. Their family business failed, there was a lot of debt to be cleared with no earning member.
“The monthly income had come down to Rs12,000 to Rs15,000 at the time for a family of four members. I do not remember going for vacations or buying new clothes for years at a stretch. We even stopped using the refrigerator so that our electricity bills do not skyrocket. However, I still got the better deal. My mother ensured my education never stopped,” she says proudly.
Chandra has also faced challenges with her health. She had always been a sick child with a weak immunity. Back in school, a couple of times she fell ill and had to miss classes for nearly two months in a row. At the same time she was also facing mental health issues. Her family’s struggles accelerated by her father’s and then her grandfather’s death. These became the primary reason for her depression and anxiety disorder, which she still occassionally suffers from.
“When I am low, constantly doubting, I keep reminding myself that if I have self doubt I cannot achieve my goals. The self doubt does not go away in a minute. It takes time, sometimes hours, sometimes even days but it does go away, eventually” she says.
Working for a fintech company she has a word of advice, “One suggestion I can give regarding taking on hardships in life is to start putting away some cash in an emergency fund,” she says. She adds, “And like everything else in my life, my philosophy of money is also about discipline. It is a forced habit, to put away money for savings and investments, and not spend it on something that is readily available on online portals. This habit is bound to make you become more secure with your financial status followed by everything else in life.”
However, whenever she faced any concerns, she has always made sure to seek out help. “In addition, I do my own research to understand the root cause behind the problem. So that I can make it my mission to eradicate it or bring it under control, to help me live my life without making any compromises with my health,” says Chandra.
Another thing that is common between these women is a single-minded devotion to their work and how they manage to achieve a work-life balance despite all odds. Chandra’s job is to spread awareness and engage with users on digital and social media and create a community which is interested in global investments and wants to use an AI-enabled platform to achieve financial wellness.
Over the years she has learnt that working round-the-clock does not help in growing either ways - personal or professional. Nowadays, she consciously tries to switch off her phone and laptop after a specified hour and focuses on learning new things. These days, she has become interested in coding and trying to learn from online platforms. Chandra also makes an attempt to go out with friends and attend workshops or simply watch a play or a movie whenever she can. More importantly, she has joined a fitness programme and is working towards not only getting fitter with yoga, dance and other forms of exercising, but also setting up micro goals of fitness for herself.
Chada founded Wovoyage in 2016 and since then she has been involved in every sphere of this platform from—its operations, strategy, marketing and finance. She wants to build Wovoyage as one-stop-safe-travel-destination for women, globally. For this she has a tech-enabled ecosystem at Wovoyage which includes booking services, search and planning platforms, on-demand travel, and recommendation sites and many more. Her philosophy to attain work life balance is simple, “I understand the importance of both sides of the world. When I am at work, it is my only priority for the moment, but when I am with family, I give my 100 per cent there. I am fortunate to have a very supportive family who understands my nature of work. Their support helps me maintain this balance without any hurdle. I make it a point to spend quality time with them which includes family vacation or spending the whole weekend together,” she says.
Chada also stresses on the importance of managing money. She believes in spending it wisely, especially on good things. She also believes that investing it at the right time and on the right thing secures the future.
Parashar dons many hats on the work front. Her current job role, is as the chairperson of Organ India which is an NGO. She is the founder of the NGO, which speaks about the awareness of organ donation and transplant across our country. She is also the founder CEO of River Rock Ventures, which is an angel investing firm which looks at health and women related businesses and to invest in startups.
Apart from the never-say-die- attitude what has also worked out for Parashar is that her trying to achieve a balanced life, mostly by investing in herself. She works out and meditates every day, goes for a piano class once a week, spends time cooking and writing, both of which are therapeutic for her. She also tries to spend more time with her friends and people who have stood by her side in days of misery, through thick and thin.
Her advice to other women who are facing challenges is to be themselves. “I think a lot of us, women lose ourselves in the roles that we have to play and in all the trappings that come with those roles, whether its guilt, sadness, bitterness, resentment or anger. I think we can drop a lot of that if we are just honest and true to ourselves. We should keep in mind our responsibilities, and not hurt anyone and do anything intentionally that might cause trouble in someone else’s life. I think if we are authentically ourselves, a lot of life falls into place.” she sums up.