Here’s a story of a mum who has been through the boat of being a stay at home individual and later took charge to change her life to be everything she dreamt of being in life. The story is not just about being in both spaces of working or staying at home vs outside home.
It is also the quest of Chitra Balasubramaniam to break the myths designed by society. Also her story gives insight to understanding on winning situations, like a complete introvert becoming an image consultant and soft skills trainer.
A story where one doesn’t want that sheltered cocoon and instead dares to dream ahead. We are glad Chitra was interested to share this story with us at Mums and stories.
“I was born in Chennai in a very conservative middle class family. Growing up I saw my parents, especially my mother work hard as a government employee and I was determined to chart a different course for my career. My parents had a typical mind-set and were keen that I study well, get a job and marry a well-settled man.
But from a young age, I was determined to I would be an entrepreneur. I was very clear that I would not settle in a typical 9 – 5 job and would spend the maximum time with my kids as they grow.
As I grew older, my parents insisted that I learn typing and shorthand so I could get a stable government job. This became a bone of contention in our family and led to many arguments amongst us. I would always tell my mother that I will marry a rich man, so I never have to work !
Likewise I was slowly fascinated by the entrepreneurial spirit and was always attracted to fashion shows and movies. I aspired to travel and, after finishing my school I proudly announced my intentions to join air hostess training. My mother was completely against this as she believed that it if I became so independent I would refuse to marry. So keeping my dreams aside, I continued with my college degree, just to satisfy them.
My parents were also very strict and I was never allowed to go out with friends, no friends allowed in the house either, never allowed to talk to strangers, especially men. Even when family members visited us, I was expected so stay inside my room. Over time, I became a complete introvert and was never comfortable or confident talking to people.
Once I finished my college, my parents started looking for a match for me and within a few months, found me a groom. At that time, I saw marriage as a route to freedom and hastily said yes because I believed that I would be able to pursue my interests after marriage.
I got married into a south Indian joint family with four sister in laws and 1 brother in law, My new family was the completely opposite my family with lots of chatter and fun. But it took me years to get adjusted in the family. And while I was trying to adjust to my new life, I got pregnant with the first child and instantly got swept into the world of motherhood.
Life continued to throw hurdles my way in the form of family issues, failed business, debt of over 2 crores. Ten years passed and we were just trying to meet the ends. We cleared all the debts by then and got comfortable. It’s not an easy task to come out of debt unlike getting into one. At the end of the day everything is about ATTITUDE, your choices, the way you respond to situations speaks about your attitude.
As parents we always work as a team, we never stopped smiling or let others or our kids know what we are going through, we always kept our sanity, we did everything and anything to get extra penny, as long as it’s ethical & legal we did the business. We got into transport business, auto , real estate, anything you can think off we did it till we cleared every penny of debt . Clearly it’s not easy as it sounds but it’s worth the journey as we learned from every situation.
But what happens when you get comfortable? I conceived my second son and soon got busy with him. But I also began to feel a void within myself. I felt something was missing and life became monotonous where all I did was get up, cook, clean, feed kids & husband , make them comfortable , feed them again , sleep and repeat the same thing day in and day out. It was really frustrating sometimes. There was no outlet, no friends and being an introvert I never went out or explored things alone. I soon started to pile on weight because of stress and at my lowest point I weighed 110kgs.
Suddenly one day you realize that being comfortable is so fatal , you don’t even notice when its killing your dreams and that day I made a decision that I must make a choice to take a chance or my life will never change – I will remain the same person whom I hated to be in the future.
Of course I had fears, fear of having friends, talking to strangers, doing something on my own , getting out of my comfort zone. But I made a decision to work on my fears & change.
Soon life around me began to change and great things started to happen when I came out of comfort zone.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. This has been my mantra from early on, even though I have been an introvert all my life. I knew if I want to change my future I need to change myself instead of the situations which is never going to happen.
I pushed myself to join courses in Image consulting, makeup, soft skills, etiquette, where I thoroughly enjoyed learning, meeting new people, going out with friends. It was like new life, I started feeling young again and I became friends with younger people which made me feel younger and happier.
Today I stand on the cusp of a new chapter of my life where I will be launching my own company soon. I want to motivate women around me and give them an opportunity to look at themselves in a new way.
Of course being an entrepreneur is not easy. If it was as easy as breeze everyone would be an entrepreneur & be successful. Fortunately & unfortunately that’s not the case; it takes decisions, work ethic, commitment, discipline, planning, taking risk, good team & last but not least never giving up on your dreams .
Have to keep reminding oneself that being an entrepreneur is a delayed gratification.
Today, when my older son is 20 years old and most women give up on their dreams, I want to say that my life is just beginning. I have the support of my family and count that as a blessing.
Being a mother is an incredible journey as such, every mom would agree to that . As a mom I have not given life to them but they have given life to me. I don’t want to look back on my life & realize that I wasted the precious time I had with my children by living in a state of perpetual distractions.
I wanted my children to see that their mom has had the courage to dream big & see me as their inspiration, someone who hasn’t been afraid and is following her dreams irrespective of her age or situations.
I speak to them openly about my venture & what kind of work I do, how much time energy I have to invest to follow my dreams. When you talk openly to your spouse & children they do understand how badly you want to fulfill your dream. They support you.
Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled, they are the ones that never give up despite the struggles.”