I had no idea when I left America to manage a large software project in India that a year and half later I would be a different person. India changes people. Its effect on me has been profound in almost every way possible. If you are my friend or family member from back home, prepare yourself. When I return home in the next month or so you will see that I’m not even close to the same person I was, and I’m glad. They call it Incredible India for a reason and here are the many ways that its changed me.
When I came to India it was because I was offered the highest paying job of my career. I was excited to finally achieve a long time goal of mine; to break the $100k a year salary mark. A year and half later the money is insignificant to me. When the price of your morning cappuccino is more than some people will make in a day, or even a week, it puts things into perspective. I’ve seen naked hungry children wandering the slums in India and its left a lasting impression on me. When I think about all the frivolous things I bought and the money I squandered, it sickens me. It’s all perishable. I can’t take any of it with me when I die. All I want to do now is eat, sleep, breath and be. That’s right….BE. Why are we as a society so obsessed with what others are doing, with deadlines, pressures and achievement? What is really important is THIS particular moment. This day could be your last. It might be the last time you see someone you love. Enjoy it. Count your blessings. Just BE.
There are many definition of success, but don’t buy into other people’s notions of what it must look like. I used to think that success was measured by a grand achievement. Success to me meant status. I was successful because I was an executive and I had the Louis Vuitton briefcase to prove it. But success to a mother in India might mean getting the family’s wash done or dinner on the table. Success to a goat herder looks much different than success to a wall street broker. The truth is success is defined as “the accomplishment of an objective or purpose”. The objective doesn’t have to be grand. If your objective is to live simply and be happy, then when you achieve that you are a success. It doesn’t mean you have to buy a giant yacht, luxury home or new Mercedes Benz. If that is how you measure success for yourself, great, but you might first ask yourself why. Why do you need those things to feel successful?
I’ve always been an independent person but I learned something about myself this year. Just because I march to the beat of my own drum doesn’t necessarily mean I like the music I’m making. Self-realization is defined as “the fulfillment by oneself of the fullest potential of one’s character or personality.” My new interest in yoga has reinforced the importance of developing my character to its highest potential. It means doing the right thing, for the right reasons at the right time. Just because you don’t give a shit what other people think of you, doesn’t mean you are doing the right thing. You should do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, not because other people will notice. I’m on a journey now to be my best self and to make a positive difference in the world. My goals are shifting from making a lot of money to teaching yoga or doing volunteer work.
I am now in a very non-conventional relationship with an Indian man. I’m thrilled that we just celebrated our one-year anniversary, but it hasn’t been easy. Age and cultural differences have brought us tremendous challenges. However, the biggest challenge for me has been learning to love myself and meet my own needs first. What I’ve realized is that most of my love relationships in the past have been because parts of me were missing and I needed those parts filled by someone else. I was looking at others to fill my needs. I’ve realized now that I am responsible for fulfilling my own needs. I need to love myself first. Yoga teaches us that the most important person in your life is you. This is quite different than what society teaches us. But the fact is, if we are incomplete we can’t give fully to anyone or anything. Heal thyself first. This year I’ve learned that relationships only truly work when you both feel whole.
I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’m open to new possibilities. For the first time in my life I feel free to investigate new opportunities and ideas. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. For now, I’m just taking one day at a time and enjoying this journey called life.