I Never Saw My Life Past 28

Not like I thought I was going to die or anything- I just…had absolutely no clue how my life was going to turn out.  It was just a black hole after 28 (literally, age 28.  Not 26, not 31, 28).  So it shouldn’t be shocking that in my 28th year of life, there has been a lot of existential crisis-ing.

 

I think I’ve been making a lot of decisions with my gut over the last 4 years (pretty exclusively I may add) and the rest of me is trying to catch up.  Mostly my head. Because it is exploding with conundrums and paradigm shifting…let downs really.

The harsh reality is that if you don’t create a version of yourself in your head, your subconscious will do it for you. And that subconscious will fill this version of you (or what you’re supposed to be) with ideas and paradigms that it sees around.

Meaning: I set myself up to fail and be disappointed when my brain caught up with…the real me.  Because let me tell you, I pretty much do…NOTHING I’m “supposed” to be doing.  Said another way, I’m kind of exclusively… a-typical.  And my brain has been having a really hard time computing this.  It’s just been really angry and self hating actually, to be perfectly honest.  And it sucks.  This self hating thing I mean.

I’ve literally spent the last month or so catching up with what I thought I was supposed to be and who I really am.  And most of it has been shocking and surprising (to nobody but myself I may add).

I’ve had the privilege of being able to really do whatever it is that I’ve wanted to do with my life.  And be whoever it is I want to be.  It’s funny when you do that though.  Because it takes an adjustment period when you realize…you’ve stepped over to the other side.  There’s no turning back now.  You’ve made too many choices to be able to keep your feet in both worlds- the “normal” world, and the world that you’ve created over the last 4 years for yourself.

It’s a really really really strange thing when you realize that crossed the point of no return.  Mostly because I’m not used to commitment.  Ask anyone who knew me back in college or before.  I was all over the place.  And I preferred it that way.  But now, after I’ve had time to let it sink in, I’m actually…ok with it. I’m actually excited about it.  I get to hit the reset button in life again.  I’m recreating the mental version of myself given my new trajectory in life.  This time I’m going to be proactive about it- visualizing my 30’s.

“When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be”

– Lao Tsu

I’m officially on to my next new adventure, which is an internal one, and I think spread over the next decade.  Coming into my own with the words/phrases I (now) identify with: Woman, tech, startup, maverick, joy, partnership, mother, leader, design, compassion, growth, accountability, spirituality, fun, self love, style, discipline.

Wow that’s a lot. But it’s good.  It’ s going to be good.  I’ve decided it’s going to be good.

And I feel like that’s the first step anyway.

Deciding the way it’s going to be. Or at least the way you’re going to respond to it.

 

 

Is It Weird That I See Beauty In Every Woman?

Nobody believes me when I say, no really, you look good.  They think I’m just being nice.  But I don’t see the point of being mean.  Even to myself.  Especially to myself.  If I can’t tell you that you look good, does that mean I can’t tell myself that I look good? Because I usually do, most mornings.  I mean of course there’s those days that you just hate everything equally, yourself and your appearance included.  But those are usually not the norm, and I know I’m doing it and I usually just try to make some joke about it so I don’t take it, or myself too seriously at that point.  Usually in the form of a blog post.

Here’s the thing. If you keep talking about how much you hate things about yourself, then I’ll feel weird when I don’t participate in the conversation.   See, I made a pact with myself a long time ago- I decided I’m not going to hate on myself.  What’s the point? If I don’t like something, just change it.  And if it can’t be changed, just live with it.  It’s really not so bad. And hey, aren’t we told to appreciate what we’ve got? It’s a pretty good practice, turns out.

So really, you’d be doing me a HUGE favor if you stopped hating on yourself so I don’t have to seem like a dick when I don’t chime in and hate on myself.

If you need help, I can get you started on how you are probably really good looking.  That’s usually what I see when I look out into the world.  Lots of beautiful women who don’t see their own beauty.  And it makes me so very sad.

Groped

Dear Man Who Groped Me Last Night on 13th Main Road,

First of all, I must say, kudos- my ass isn’t even that big and you managed to find it, slow down enough on your motorcycle to grab it, and speed up fast enough for me not to see the last 4 digits of your plates so that we could track you down and make you watch weird 80’s videos on sexual harassment after which I would probably quiz you and then get the court to mandate that you pick up litter off the roads for the next 5 years.  That must have taken some practice.  Good job.

I’m just wondering though, do you grab asses because you don’t know what female ass feels like? I have a few suggestions.  First, if you have a sister, I would try grabbing her ass, see what happens.  If you don’t have a sister, maybe try your mom.  When she’s not looking, just go up and grab it. Give it a squeeze. If your mother has died, and you don’t have a sister, maybe try it on a female relative. And if the thought of grabbing your mother/sister/cousin’s ass is weird/they would think it is not cool, I’m wondering why you think I’d find it amusing.  I’m just putting that out there.  Genuinely curious.

But hey.  Maybe you’re grabbing asses because you think it’s a skill you can build.  Like in the Olympics.  They’ll add ass grabbing to it.  I mean who knows, you could be right. Except I feel like you’re going to have a lot of competition, especially with those guys from Delhi.  They can grab asses with their EYEBALLS, they’re that good.  So if you’re trying to grab asses because you’re on the hunt for an Olympic gold medal, I’d suggest another sport. Like…curling.  Or something.

Finally,  I don’t know. This is the first time I’ve had my ass felt up ever, so I’m new to this.  I must say, I’m trying to understand where you are coming from (either from a lack of understand of what female ass feels like, Olympic Gold aspirations) who knows.  But I’m just putting it out there that maybe there could be alternatives where I don’t think you’re a total dick, and you can stop being that weird guy on the motorcycle who grabs asses.  I feel like this skill has greater potential. Like…saving kittens  stuck in burning bushes or…whisking away confidential documents before the wrong people read them or….I don’t know. ANYTHING ELSE.

I’m just saying.

Sincerely,

The Girl Who’s Ass You Just Grabbed Last Night

(I hope there was only one)

Right Brain, Left Brain, Passion, Discipline, Women & Tech

I was talking with my roommate/co founder today, and I think I have come to the point where I finally realize (and more importantly embrace) just how left brained I am.  I guess I wanted to deny it for the longest time, but as I see more of the world, I am learning more and more how…logical and practical I really am.  I think it was really hard for me because I had a value judgement associated with right brained people and left brained people (again, going back to my problems with being judgmental).  But coming from a TamBram family, I didn’t want to admit that yes, I am a stereotypical left brained person.  It was such a let down.  I also associated being left brained with a predominantly male…role.  I associated right brain with feminine, and left brain with masculine.  Which is incredibly unfair, but I think that is how our society portrays it.  (Now am I passing blame off to this larger, more abstract entity that nobody can really pin down making it ridiculously easy to play victim and not assume responsibility here? Yeah pretty much).  But it’s true.

And what does it mean being a left brained woman?  I know we’re trying to pay lip service to women in tech, women in engineering, but really deep down, what are our own perceptions of it?  I guess I’m a flawed human being because no matter how much I try to convince myself of these facts, deep down, that’s my first reaction. I assume responsibility for that, but I realize it’s something that needs to change.  I think what I’m trying to say is that I really haven’t seen many famous women that I, as a left brained woman, relate to and really admire/respect.  I also think that being a woman of color makes a huge difference, which I never believed until I read Maya Angelou (and I was thinking holy crap I thought it was just me that felt this way!)  But that’s for a different post.  The point is, I guess I am coming to terms with the fact that yes, I am a really practical/logical person, and that is OK.  In fact, lets embrace it.

It was also hard because…running a company, especially in the social space, I haven’t seen many people like me in it. Most companies in this space thrive off of Martin Luther King like conviction and passion.  They are trying to inspire you to do something different. To start a movement.  And since I started NextDrop, I always felt insecure because…that’s not who I think I am.  Am I passionate? Sure.  But do I think I can pull off an I Have A Dream Speech?  Not really.  I tried once, and it just felt so wrong.  It wasn’t me. I wasn’t being authentic.  I’m reading this book called Quiet, and it’s really interesting.  It’s focusing not on the Martin Luther King’s of movements, but the Rosa Parks.  Now do I think I’m completely Rosa Parks? No, but I definitely relate to her contribution to that movement more than I think I can relate to anyone else.

But coming back to value, if I were to synthesize the strengths of right brained people and left brained people, I would say that left brained people have an easier time being disciplined.  Right brained people have an easier time tapping into passion.  To be good, you only need one or the other.  But to be great? To be great, you have to learn how to have both.  I think the road to greatness is first figuring out what comes naturally to you, and then actively working on how to build the other part.  I think the motivation and drive for greatness is there for everyone, it’s just a matter of how you go about achieving it.

At least, that’s the way I see it today.  Who knows what will happen tomorrow.

After all, tomorrow is another day

Why Didn’t I Start Facebook? Because I Could Care Less About Facebook (Women in Tech: Part I)

Women in Tech (or more precisely, the lack thereof) has always been an issue.  And most recently, with the Twitter IPO, it’s become a hot topic again.  I like it because it’s made me think about why this phenomenon exists.  There’s a lot of people who are weighing in on this topic- most of whom, ironically, are not really women in technology.

So being a woman who is running a technology startup, I started questioning why I was doing what I was doing.  I can’t speak for everyone, I can only speak for myself (so this is one datapoint) but the fact of the matter is that I could care less about most tech startups out there.  I’m making the newest chat tool that erases pictures within 5 seconds of opening it (except oh crap, we didn’t realize you can hack it and come up with an iPhone app that actually save all the sexts that you’ve sent- our bad).  I’m sorry, that just doesn’t make me want to jump for joy here.  If I’m spending most of the waking hours of my day working on something, I’d like it to have meaning.

So now, lets look at the non profit and social enterprise space. How many women are running organizations there?  I think you’d see quite a few.  And if you look at the most famous ones in the Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) space, guess what, they are run (or co-run/founded) by, yes, women.  Frontline SMS and Ushahidi great examples.

Which gets me to my  main point: maybe the real question is, why aren’t more tech startups from Silicon Valley doing cool things that solve actual problems?  (And no, I’m not the only one who thinks so).  Now don’t get me wrong, I have personally experienced times when I think wow, now I know why being a woman in tech is so hard- no wonder more women don’t do it.  And when I read things online, I think jesus, you actually thought it was ok to put this in print?  Max Levchin, for example, straight up says he thinks that early startups should strive for “non-diversity“-

“PayPal also had a hard time hiring women. An outsider might think that the PayPal guys bought into the stereotype that women don’t do CS. But that’s not true at all. The truth is that PayPal had trouble hiring women because PayPal was just a bunch of nerds! They never talked to women. So how were they supposed to interact with and hire them?”

So basically, his argument was that since they never learned to talk to women in college, lets use the same logic in the real world.  Lets never grow up because really, we don’t think this is going to be a big deal ever.  AWESOME. I mean, can you imagine if I said the same thing?  Well, I never learned to talk to boys in college so really I don’t think I should hire any men for my startup because I don’t think they will bring any value at all whatsoever.  (Wow, now that I mention it, I should try it sometime- maybe my next startup!)  Point is, it sounds utterly ridiculous, absurd and not to mention downright immature.  And I think we’ve talked a lot about the structural reasons why there aren’t more women in technology (i.e  the education system in general)- but it looks like some top universities are trying to rectify the problem- Carnegie Mellon is a prime example. (Kudos to them- I really hope more universities adopt this strategy. )

But I want to focus on those few women that say hey, I’m willing to deal with all of this crap and I’ve made it.  I’m here.  But really, here to do what? Am I going to deal with the constant struggle (because yes, it’s still awkward and painful for women in a male dominated world) in order to make an app that changes the face of mobile gaming for 7-15 year olds?  Is that REALLY what I am going to struggle for here?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, even in hindsight, if I went to Harvard and Marc Zuckerberg were to come to me and ask me to start Facebook (EVEN knowing what I do now), I would probably pass.  I’d STILL start NextDrop.  Because by God, this thing is going to make people’s lives significantly better than it was before.  If we live out our vision and fundamentally change the face of citizenship and democracy around the world like I think we are, I don’t know if I can say that Facebook will even come close to the positive impact we will create.

Maybe startups, and business in general, should think about how they can actually do good for the world.  Over the past 2 years, I’ve come to believe that the status quo is just plain unsustainable, and I think that the future of Silicon Valley, the tech industry, and business as we know it, is going to change.  And I think that future is going to have a lot more women in tech.

More on that in future posts.

Lessons From A Female Entrepreneur: When In Doubt, Be Very Direct

There are certain special issues one encounters being a female startup leader, and it’s something I haven’t thought about in a long time.  But I had a lot of issues with it when I started out.  I remembered it recently as I was, again, speaking to a group of young women entrepreneurs, and the first thing they wanted to ask me was this:  Anu, did you have problems with men hitting on you during business meetings?

Absolutely.  And it really really got to me.

To those that don’t understand how it feels to be not only not taken seriously, but blatantly hit on in a business context, let me just say, it is one of the worst feelings as a business leader.  Because it is probably one of the first times you are wholly and completely being judged by not what you do, but who you seem to be.  And that makes you wonder: what am I doing to warrant this attention?  Because in your head, you think that there’s nothing wrong with the world, there MUST be something wrong with what you are doing, or how you are behaving.

So of course, you go about trying to fix it.  You start with the way you dress, because maybe the (already) conservative business attire is just…more distracting than you thought.  So you go out to the store and purchase the most unattractive/unappealing clothing possible.  However, no matter what clothes you wear, it still continues

Then, since you don’t want to be mean, you decide to just drop hints about a boyfriend/fiancee/significant other, hoping that the other party gets the hint.  But no matter how “in love” you are with said significant other, the unwanted attention still continues. You joke about it with your friends, hoping that it makes you feel better, but deep down, you know its really just not that funny.  Not only that, it gets worse.

And then, after some time, you begin to question your abilities to run a company.  Why do these people not take me seriously?  What am I doing wrong?  Maybe I’m not cut out to run a company after all.  Maybe everyone was right.

But then, the worst of it happens when you wonder, what if I just…give in?  What if I just go along with it?  What if I just stop fighting?  Because you know as a startup you don’t get much business, so can you really afford to let go of any?  That’s when you know you’ve hit rock bottom.

Luckily, before I started out, I already made some rules for myself, and I knew that there were certain things I just wouldn’t do, and even if it meant NextDrop would go under, I wasn’t willing to budge (because it wouldn’t be worth it at that point for me).  However, even knowing what I was ok with and wasn’t ok with, even then, it was absolutely terrifying.  My first encounter with this was my Indian banker, who refused to give me an Indian bank account for our company (while asking me out every other day).  I was financing operations on my own for months on end, because we couldn’t transfer money from the US to India.  I still get nightmares on payday sometimes, because I didn’t know how I was going to make payroll/pay all our bills.  I remember going to each of the people we owed money to every month, asking for an extension, promise I’m good for it can you please just let me pay this a little bit later?  And this banker was the one guy coming between me and bankrolling the business.

Finally, the last straw was when he called me at 11pm, and asked me out to dinner.  That’s when I just lost it, and decided to be incredibly direct.  I basically called him out on everything, and asked him if he called all of his clients to ask them out to dinner this late because I don’t know about India, but in the US, this is highly inappropriate and how dare you do this.  Then, I went to the bank the next day, and made sure to walk into his office, leave the door open (so everyone could hear), and just told him (well, told may be an understatement), in no uncertain terms, how incredibly inappropriate he was, how dare you do that to me, and that if he ever did anything even remotely construed as inappropriate again, I would raise so much hell that he would never be able to work anywhere in this city again.  Afterwards, one of the tellers came out to me, apologized for his manager’s behavior, said he did this to all the single women clients, thank god you said something to him (finally), and within a week, he got me my bank account.

Since that point, I have realized that I just need to be…direct.  Not rude, but if things are going off topic, bring it right back.  And if things are going in directions they shouldn’t be in, even after trying to bring the topic to business, just be a jerk about it.  Make them feel really really uncomfortable, because honestly, that’s how it feels to be you right now.  Turn the tables.  And if at the end of the day, you lose business, then you lose business.  You probably don’t want to be working with them anyway, because this is probably indicative of larger issues.

Today, I actually don’t face this problem a whole lot, thankfully.  I don’t really know why, but I think it’s just something I’ve learned to maneuver over the past two years.  Maybe one day I’ll figure out exactly what changed, but until that point, I can just say that I understand where you are coming from, young women entrepreneurs, and that it does get better.  Just don’t give in.

“I Was A Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

Thanks to an amazing article, sent by my friend Kristen, it got me thinking more about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which, if I am being truly honest, I sort of modeled myself after for the longest time, and also why the show New Girl frustrated me so much (because it was like looking at myself in the mirror and wondering why the heck I wanted to be that person who seemed so incredibly lame).  This post is just taking my favorite parts of this article and posting them for all to read.  Because they really speak to me.

It was the critic Nathan Rabin who coined the term in a review of the film Elizabethtown, explaining that the character of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures”. She pops up everywhere these days, in films and comics and novels and television, fascinating lonely geek dudes with her magical joie-de-vivre and boring the hell out of anybody who likes their women to exist in all four dimensions.

Manic Pixies, like other female archetypes, crop up in real life partly because fiction creates real life, particularly for those of us who grow up immersed in it. Women behave in ways that they find sanctioned in stories written by men who know better, and men and women seek out friends and partners who remind them of a girl they met in a book one day when they were young and longing

I wish I’d known, at 21, when I made up my mind to try to write seriously for a living if I could, that that decision would also mean a choice to be intimidating to the men I fancied, a choice to be less attractive, a choice to stop being That Girl and start becoming a grown woman, which is the worst possible thing a girl can do, which is why so many of those Manic Pixie Dream Girl characters, as written by male geeks and scriptwriters, either die tragically young or are somehow immortally fixed at the physical and mental age of nineteen-and-a-half. Meanwhile, in the real world, the very worst thing about being a real-life MPDG is the look of disappointment on the face of someone you really care about when they find out you’re not their fantasy at all – you’re a real human who breaks wind and has a job.

I try hard, now, around the men in my life, to be as unmanic, as unpixie and as resolutely real possible, because I don’t want to give the wrong impression. And it’s a struggle. Because I remain a small, friendly, excitable person who wears witchy colors and has a tendency towards the twee. I still know that if I wanted to, I could attract one of those lost, pretty nerd boys I have such a weakness for by dialling up the twee and dialing down the smart, just as I know that the hurt in their eyes when they realise you’re a real person is not something I ever want to see again. I still love to up sticks and go on adventures, but I no longer drag mournful men-children behind me when I do, because it’s frankly exhausting.

What concerns me now is the creation of new narratives, the opening of space in the collective imagination for women who have not been permitted such space before, for women who don’t exist to please, to delight, to attract men, for women who have more on our minds. Writing is a different kind of magic, and everyone knows what happens to women who do their own magic – but it’s a risk you have to take.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, In Namma Bangalore

I’ve finally moved to Bangalore and it is…it’s Bangalore.  I have to admit, it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever felt homesick (I don’t know what I currently define as home, but whatever it is, I want it).  Maybe, and is probably more likely the case, it’s just the first time in my life I’ve slowed down to really accept the emotions that I feel.  And I’m proud of myself- I think that’s signs of progress, and of maturity.  But it’s painful.  It’s one of those things where you know it’s good for you and you are making good progress (and you wouldn’t have it any other way), but that doesn’t mean it sort of sucks in the interim.

On the flip side, I think it also helps bring clarity to what’s important to you in life.  You discover things about yourself which, you sort of knew, but have never completely come to terms with.

A few things that probably everyone else in the world knew but I have just accepted

  • I am pretty high maintenance. For example, it bugs the crap out of me that I was the idiot that left my hair straightener at my parents home in the US.  (No, blow drying just isn’t the same, thank you very much).  And when I moved to Bangalore, I spent all my savings on a nice apartment, furniture, appliances, and paint.  I spend so much time picking out the right clothes sometimes.  And I don’t regret it, it makes me feel so great. I used to think I’d get some kind of bonus life points if I was the fastest girl done getting ready.  And don’t get me wrong, I can be ready and presentable in 10 minutes if need be, but WHY? I LIKE taking my time.  It’s way more fun  that way.
  • On the flip side, I can’t stand the time it takes for womanly maintenance (waxing, threading, etc…)  It also bugs the crap out of me and I procrastinate like no other.  I mean yeah sometimes I go out with shorts and the I dare you to say something yeah you look, but those instances are few and far between.  I really wish I just really didn’t care like some of my friends that I admire so much, but I do (damn you media and your influence on my self confidence)  I suppose I’ll have to figure out which way I fall, but in the interim I begrudgingly go to my local salon, where I make new enemies every week (REALLY does it take that long to wax my arms are you serious why can’t this go faster and why is this so painful?!) and spend way more time than I want to doing things that I am still not sure if I care about.
  • I am so nerdy it’s really past funny.  I ask a million questions about everything (way past the normal level of curiosity) and if I could spend 3 hours a day just reading about random things that have nothing to do with what I do directly I would totally do it. And if you show even the slightest interest in whatever I am currently interested in (which right now includes BitCoin, the difference between women and men led startups, dance bars in Mumbai, or Python) I will probably send you millions of emails with millions of questions and ask your opinion/thoughts on everything (and by ask I mean essentially harass).  When I want to know the answers to something, I am ruthless/relentless and all proper social norms go out the window because I essentially think it’s a war against the Universe for truth and justice, so everything is fair game.
  • I love having fun, and I just think life isn’t worth living if you aren’t having as much fun as humanly possible.  This means that work should be fun, after work should be fun, the weekends should be fun, and life should just feel pretty amazing.  It also means that I don’t have multiple faces. I can’t be a different person during work, after work, with friends, with family.  And after reading Lean In (which deserves its own post) I realized that it’s ok.  Maybe that is the future of the workplace anyway.  Irrespective of where workplace trends go, I have realized that I can’t be anyone but me in any context, and that is going to have to be ok.

But overall, I’m really excited that I get this opportunity to live in this incredibly vibrant city.  There’s a few things that I want to do, which I have on my to do list, hopefully I’ll get to accomplish them this year in Bangalore, we’ll see.  But I suppose overall, I’m thankful to be here, thankful that I have this amazing job in this amazing city.

Live the Story You Want to Read

Lately I’ve been watching more TV, and also thinking about more of the movies I’ve been watching over the years through the gender lens.  Actually I’ve been critically analyzing a lot of things through the gender lens lately, but I think it’s a pretty interesting exercise.  Conclusion: I don’t like the types of “women” the media shows me I can become (in neither India nor the US).  I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think I always used to look to media (at least subconsciously) for answers to life questions, or for charting the path for my future. This job didn’t work out, what do other women do?  This guy doesn’t like me, what should I do?  I’m in a new country, how do I make friends?  And I think if we are honest with ourselves, at least some perception of who we are (or who we should become) stems from these preconceived notions of who we can be.  I think deep down, our minds hate ambiguity, and being able to draw conclusions about some plausible future helps us be more at peace, no matter how uninspiring or unpromising that future looks (I mean hey, at least we have a suggestion).

But what if we just re-imagined all of it?  What if we made the conscious decision to throw whatever we know out the window and create our own versions of what we want to see for ourselves?  What if I say, no, this is what to me, the ideal woman does, and it doesn’t matter if nobody else thinks so because at least I do.  What if we create as we go, and ignore all boundaries that, well, who knows constructed in our heads?

What if instead of making the movies we watch into the novels of our lives, we decide to take a stand and write the novel first (because we all know the book is always way better than the movie)?

I think the world may be a more interesting (and potentially happier) place.

The Modern Business Woman: You’re Probably Really Attractive, So Act Like It

I was really inspired by a few of the feminist books I’ve been reading, and I realized there’s something really important missing from most of the leadership/business books out there- a thing specific to women.  And that’s the point of confidence.  Let me clarify: most books talk about having confidence, but I think women, in particular, have an issue with body image and their appearance in general.  Why do I feel this way?  Besides personal experience, the fact that calling a woman “ugly” is used as a reason she acts the way she does/says the things she does, seals the deal for me.

Why is this a problem?  I think it gets in the way of doing your job, and functioning/success in general.  I mean, we have a ton of stuff to worry about already when being in a position of leadership- why the hell would you add another thing to the list?  But we all do it.

Goal: We shouldn’t let comments about the way we look shake us up.  And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know it totally would.  I mean don’t get me wrong.  Most women are really good at coping and covering it up/not let it affect business as usual, but when we’re in the bathroom crying about the comment/bitching to our girlfriends that night about it, that’s still precious time that’s wasted.  And it shouldn’t.

What’s the problem?  Women, and I have to say this is especially true of women in India, seem to have an incredibly low self esteem- particularly about the way they look.  And it is disturbing.  Lets just put it this way- I have never been in a conversation, in either India or the US, where we talk about the things we LIKE about our bodies.  EVER.  That conversation NEVER happens.  And it baffles me.

So Anu, what’s the solution?  I think women, and I’m talking 99% of the population, should realize that they are really attractive.  I have VERY RARELY come across a woman and thought, MY GOD SHE IS HIDEOUS.  I mean, I can’t even think of one time.  Ok I take that back, maybe on Greys Anatomy or on ER when someone gets pulled out from a burning car or something.  That’s about it. Here’s the thing: There are a billion ways women can change the way they look to suit their tastes.  I mean we’re talking everything from waxing, threading, makeup, hair straighteners, body shaping clothes, skin creams, to more extremes like botox and cosmetic surgery.  Do I advocate those things.  No- I’m just saying they are out there IF YOU REALLY WANT THEM.  The point I’m trying to make is that you take the same woman, and on a scale of 1-10, she can look like a 1, and THE SAME WOMAN CAN LOOK LIKE A 10.  We all have that potential.  Speaking from experience, (as someone who has been confused for a guy, and someone who has also been confused for a (female) model), women can look however they want to look.

Where am I really going with this?  At the end of the day, I think all women should accept the honest to god truth: we are all attractive.  And the sooner we internalize that fact, the sooner we can get on with our lives and worry about other more important things.

Anu, that’s nice in theory, but  seriously, I just feel really unattractive sometimes.  I know, sometimes I do too- trust me.  And I think it would be weird if we didn’t.  So I figured I would put together a list of things that have helped me out in the past.

  1. Start a journal and write down 3 things you like about yourself every day:  I know that sounds stupid, but speaking from experience, it really works.  Back Sophomore year of college, I felt terrible about myself.  Like really bad.  So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I forced myself to write 3 things I liked about myself every day.  It was really hard at first, but then, as time went on, it got easier and easier.  I progressed from 3 things to 5 things, to things that I did that I was proud of, to things I would like to do in the future that I didn’t think I could do before.  I stopped after a few months, because the purpose had been accomplished.  I had trained myself to start looking at the good things- not just myself, but in life in general.  That was the year I learned to love myself.  It’s always a work in progress, but that was the foundation for it all.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be where I am if it hadn’t been for that exercise.
  2. Invest in a good hair straighter/curling iron: Basically, just do something different to your hair.  It sounds really lame, but seriously, having good hair (or hair that you absolutely love) does wonders.  Maybe it’s an Indian thing, but I’ve always hated my frizz.  It’s one of those things that I could either choose to love, or choose to do something about.  I’m still in the process of  loving my waves (in a perfect world I’d be there already, but still I’m working on it), but if I want instant, my god I look great, I straighten my hair.  I bought this straightener junior year of high school, and I still think it was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.  I absolutely love it.
  3. Pick clothes that flatter your body: It’s amazing what a difference clothes can make.  One show that I really love/makes me really happy, is What Not To Wear: India.  (I like the American version too, but I feel like the Indian one is better somehow- probably just nicer and less snarky).  It’s AMAZING what clothes can do, whatever body shape you are.  I think that’s the thing I like about the show- they never tell you to change the way you look, lose weight etc…they just teach you how to dress for your body shape.  Which is awesome.  If you need help getting started, here is where you can figure out your body shape, and it even gets you started on how to dress your body type.
  4. The Gym: I know that this one is a touchy subject, but honestly, when I work out on a regular basis, I feel good about the way I look.  The funny thing is that I rarely look very different from what I do when I don’t work out- it’s more a mental thing.  Not only am I doing my best to stay fit/healthy, I am less stressed/love the world (including myself) more after I let the endorphins take over.
  5. Makeup:  Along the hair straightening vein, Mascara, Eye liner and some blush/bronzer works wonders.  In 10 minutes, you feel like a million bucks.  Or at least I do.

Anyway, whatever it is that you do, I think the goal should be to learn to love yourself.  Because once you do that, I think it makes everything else, including managing people/a business, much easier.

I think we would all do each other a favor by loving ourselves just a little (or a lot) more.  Like I said, you’re probably already super attractive- just act like it!