happiness, Life Goals, social entrepreneurship, Startups

Salaam, Shanti, Pace, Peace: Startup Life in India, 2 Years Later

I moved to India August 2011.  I remember when I first got here, I was an incredibly angry person.  I think the inequities and inefficiencies I saw in India made me angry.  Being a woman made me angry.  Being young made me angry.  Everything just made me angry.  I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a young female entrepreneur, who reminded me a lot of myself when I first started out.  And it made me realize how far I had come, and how…peaceful I felt today.  All that anger, all those frustrations, all the uncertainty, came rushing back as we talked, and I really wished I could telepathically communicate what I have experienced instead of trying to verbalize it all.  So of course, I think what actually happened was a lot of silence as I tried to process, and a few cliches (that never help) were the only things I could contribute at the time.

But it got me thinking- what has changed in the last two years?

  • You learn that most people are usually wrong about new ideas.  When something new comes, how is it possible to have “experts”?  Why would they know more than you?  Because if they thought there was a real opportunity, wouldn’t they have done it themselves?  I used to feel so insecure about everything I was doing, because I thought I knew nothing.  There is no fix for this, other than the fact that you have to a) know that you will make mistakes b) once you realize you’re wrong, you fix it c) forgive yourself for being human.  And now that I have worked on NextDrop for 2 years, I am the expert.  So I have learned to just listen to my gut, and nothing else.  It’s incredibly liberating when you realize this fact.
  • You can’t change who you are, you can’t make people like you, and you can’t make people listen to you, so there is no point in trying.  All you can do is stick to what makes you happy, do the work that you think you should be doing, and leave the rest.  If you focus on doing good work, everything else falls into place.
  • Pain and joy are two sides of the same coin, and knowing both is part of the human experience.  I think these are things I have finally internalized.  I have realized that in order to connect to others in a meaningful way,  we must be open to experiencing the full spectrum of human emotion.  It is a scary statement, opening ourselves to the world at large, but if we have the strength to do that, we can connect to those individuals who are seeking meaning and truth, trying to make sense of it all through music, art, or dance. It’s a new and different world, but it humbles you and makes you understand just how little you know, and how much there still is to learn and grow emotionally.
  • Finally, I think the fundamental shift in my life outlook was when I  recently realized I don’t dance because I want to relieve stress, I dance because I want to appreciate life.  Appreciate my body’s ability to pirouette, leap, bend, point, glide to music that speaks to my soul.  I am not a religious person, and I think this daily act of appreciation is the closest I get to prayer- a thank you to the universe that I exist today, and in this crazy thing we call life, that is all I can ask for.

4 thoughts on “Salaam, Shanti, Pace, Peace: Startup Life in India, 2 Years Later”

  1. Hi Anu. I should Thank You for this article. It inspired me. I am sure, when ever I feel low, It will continue to do so. I too started a new business and I am not sure what to do and not to do. May it be marketing, advertising, purchasing or selling. I am now thinking, after reading this article. I should not only concentrate on making my customers or dealers happy, But I am too entitled to it. Thank you.


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