By Prachi Bansal
On my 36th birthday I fell gravely ill. I was unable to move out of bed, felt light-headed and felt like the world was spinning out of control. And mine definitely was. Not only was I having a vertigo attack, I also had an upset stomach, was nutritionally deficient, and had my period. So, it was a triple whammy!
Each painful period forces me to think of my life choices because I metaphorically die and come back every time. And believe me, I am no drama queen. But what I am is a reflector and a list-maker.
So, on January 24, 2020, I made a pledge to never spend a birthday like that again. And I came up with a list of things to do so that I am far fitter in mind and body before I turn 40. Here’s what I have followed so far:
Take Care of My Body
Well, given my situation, this was definitely a priority. So, I purchased those coloured containers for everyday medicines and put reminders to take them everywhere. For a person who did not take her vitamins after the birth of her two kids, this was a biggie.
I became more determined to attend all my personal training sessions even if I had to prioritise myself over family matters at times. I also signed up for online health seminars and rectified my eating habits that were affecting period health.
In other words, I made my body a priority.
I presume that my traditional family background had made me devalue my own health and to see self-care as a selfish act. Women prioritise family and community far above themselves, the way soldiers value their country above their own lives. This system of sacrifice and servitude is so deeply ingrained that tearing away from it is rebellion for me.
But nearing 40, most women are ready to rebel.
Say No to Crap and Yes to Fun
As children born in another era, the first survival trick you learn is to say yes to your parents. Compliance gets your parents to praise more and criticise less. And, in your mind, you hope it will also help you earn their love. This trick works in the early years but shows its cracks by the time we reach our teens. But now we are conditioned and it’s easier to keep up the façade, as ‘family comes first’.
Soon, you get married, have kids and suddenly all the yeses seem overwhelming. Now you are not a child anymore but somehow feel as powerless. And that feeling is the seed of rebellion or the start of depression.
But this time the power lies in saying NO.
After so many years, stating your wants or refusing a loved one may seem difficult but it is not impossible. The power lies within you to be assertive. Start small and always begin with ‘I feel/want…’
Keep your power with you. Be calm. It is the beginning of your personal revolution.
Become Financially Independent
For a girl who never had to work, wanting to do so seemed the major issue. During my college days, a few friends and I had started a small personalised gifting business. It did well but shortly after that, I got married and had both my kids. Suddenly I didn’t need or have time to work.
Once my younger one was five years old, I tried my hand at multiple small ventures just to stay creative and relevant, but due to time and family constraints, they all perished. My aim was never to be financially independent, since my conditioning was that earning money is my husband’s job. So I would give away my small earnings to charity or spend them on my kids.
But with money comes power and each passing year made me feel powerless. And that, as I said, is either the seed of rebellion or the start of depression. So, the primarily right-brained part of me made a conscious and powerful decision to learn about finance, understand investment options, and start ventures with the aim to earn for myself.
Learn, Learn and Learn Some More
In 2018, I learnt something about myself: that I love to teach, and kindness is the most important thing in the world to me. So, I signed up for a teaching course and afterwards started a workshop series called ‘The Empathy Advantage’. It was very well-received and there was no turning back.
I became a lifelong learner and that was the turning point of my life. Subsequently, I took multiple courses, became more self-aware, reflected and learnt some more.
Now both my kids, my husband, both sets of parents, coworkers, siblings, friends, my blog community and life are my teachers because I look for every opportunity to learn and each interaction challenges me to evolve further. And for that I am eternally grateful to all of them.
It’s been over a year to my birthday epiphany along with Covid-19 and I am far healthier, more assertive and on my way to financial freedom through heaps and heaps of learning, especially during lockdown.
Prachi Bansal is a Bengaluru-based life skills coach and trainer. Find her on Empathy Edge.