When I was younger, I wanted to be a myriad of things, a yogini wasn’t one of them. The world was an open sea and all I had to do was set sail and seek out the stars and search for new land. And it would be all mine to conquer and settle in. And then I would be happy for the rest of my life.
For Ruchika Pandey, it has a millennial twist.
As a 5-year-old girl, the little dark-haired lass wanted to be SriDevi. SriDevi was an Indian actress, many considered the first female Bollywood star, who tucked into quite a few roles during her illustrious career. Amongst the awards she racked up were for renowned National Film Award, Nandi Award, Tamil Nadu State Film Award, Filmfare Awards, Kerala State Film Award and three Filmfare Award South.
Throughout five decades swimming through the tides of various roles in her career which began when she was a child, she remains stoically calm, shy and introverted. However, SriDevi was found dead in a hotel room only too-recently in February 2018. Her death sparked panic as it was, at first, shrouded in mystery and confusion.
Ruchika, however, grew up to have varying ambitions carried only by the wind of her growing personality and a roaring appetite for life.
At 14, she wanted to be a pilot which evolved into ‘just being rich’ in her twenties. As with everything in life, she found herself changing again…and now, she wants something as simple yet elusive as ‘Happiness’.
How It Went From a Random Rant to Viral
The reason I wanted to focus and write about Ruchika was because of her unexpected viral post on Linkedin which I suspect was written during a raw moment in her life.
On her last day at work, she wrote a Linkedin post about leaving her job to seek greener, better pastures and her new journey on becoming a solo entrepreneur. The post went viral for which only Linkedin algorithms can explain and it achieved (at last count) 160,000 likes, 9,000 comments and 14 million views.
If it proved nothing else, it demonstrated that despite the veil of anonymity and deception that social media sites accord us, most of the time, rawness, emotions, feelings, and humanity is very relatable. The more people can relate to you, the further you’ll reach.
which proves one thing for sure, I was not alone on this journey. 14M people around the world thought or may be this thought occurred to them at-least once.That moment was CatharticRuchika Pandey
When There’s Magic in the Social Media World
And cathartic it was simply because it showed her that she wasn’t alone in her journey. Why? Because despite how ‘connected’ social media tries to make us feel, feeling alone in a sea of people you don’t know can a very real.
The simple Linkedin post launched Ruchika into popularity as she started receiving messages and calls from people all around the world, and bless their hearts, with some offering her roles as a writer, consultant, trainer, teacher, motivator, and at one point, a model.
And let me bring you back to the first point — Ruchika started this off with a very #IRL post on a professional network, Linkedin.
She has become an accidental social media sensation who people were tailing and stalking. In this day and age, this is probably not news. Justin Bieber’s mother, after all, thought she was innocently sharing videos of her adorable son on Youtube with family and friends before it all exploded into a major, vicious fandom
Working in the chaotic uber 9-to-5 pool of Bengaluru corporate world, Ruchika thought this was what she was meant to do. This was life. This was it. Everyday, even as she found herself ruminating about the trajectory of her life, wondering about the purpose of her day, she ALSO questioned if there was anything beyond the meetings, conference calls and presentations she was making.
As we all know, that persistent, annoying inner voice inside our heads is not just loud but quite unshuttable.
“You’re not EVOLVING!”, Charles Darwin’s words shouted in her head.
Despair Starts with a ‘D’, but so Does Determination
Based on my own experience as a mother, I can relate because I’ve been in the digital marketing and search engine optimization industry for the past 19 years. That’s how old my son has turned just this past April 1st. Everything keeps changing and you have to keep the ball rolling. You keep the ball in the air, move through the sea of information, sifting out solutions, sniffing out secrets, keeping notes of the tasks to check off your to-do list, and all this while trying to keep a rein on your real life.
Although my life trajectory is quite different from Ruchika’s, there was one thing that captured my attention — she wanted ‘happiness’. And be a yogini.
A gong went off in my head.
Happiness is the kind of target with so many variables and subjectiveness that no one has the same one in this world. But there had to be a kind of trigger that set her off, dropping her resignation letter on her boss’ desk one fine morning announcing her departure from the 9-to-5 corporate world. Something had set it off…but what?
I have a problem, problem of keeping reins of my life in someone else’s hand. I wanted to control my destiny
For me, it was my survival instinct. For the writer of “Life’s Too Short to Be Too Busy”, Mimi Bishop, it was the earth-shattering deaths of her siblings. We all have different triggers.
As I’ve mentioned in my personal blog about how my family has had to go through 3 funerals in the row, one year after another, it was like having all doors shut in your face almost all at the same time. Well, not ALL doors but having many doors slamming in your face can cause deep reflection. We may need look and behave normally on the outside but on the inside, questions lurk around dark corners and they pounce when we’re not ready for them.
What may eventually emerge from all that silent reflections is another question, “What are you doing with YOUR life?”
For many, it’s skydiving, traveling around the world solo, buying a new home, or becoming a vegetarian. For people like Ruchika, it meant leaving her 9-to-5 job and doing herself a favor by doing what she loves and wants to do.
Solo-preneurship, she figures, will give her the reign on her life she needed.
The World of Entrepreneurship and your Personal Mission
As we all in the world of entrepreneurship know all too well, all that fluff and cushiness of being a solo-preneur comes with a bed of thorns.
You’re welcome to stand in my place, You’re welcome to feel what I felt, You’re welcome to live my life, And you’re welcome to stay in my bed of thorns— Gary Numan
In order to survive on a thorny bed, you have to jump all in, with every single cell in your body. Together with all the admiration, new followers, encouraging comments, compliments, there were also rejections, criticisms, skepticism, rejections, rejections, dejection, disappointments, rejections, blames, disagreements, disapproval…and did I mention REJECTIONS?
Instead of waking up to the chime of the clock, one would have to wake up driven by one’s goals.
Gone are the promotions, raise and golden watches. In its place…uncertainty.
Among those who are employed, 62% could be considered “Networked Workers” who use the internet or email at their workplace.— Pew Research Center
The key, as Ruchika realized, was to learn how to take and embrace others’ opinions without judging them, finding common ground, and inching towards common goals without dissolving under the pressure of dissent and caustic environment.
Ruchika has been saving up for more than 10 years to finally make the leap of faith; it’s what she calls her ‘Dream Quota’. Starting work at the ripe ‘ole age of 16 and without a break, she snapped up everything that came her way, climbing the ropes and ladders, and jumping through the flaming hoops of the corporate world.
Although she did not anticipate a viral Linkedin post to nudge her into popularity, the incident opened up more doors to her future than she thought possible.
But if Ruchika, and like-minded people, were to achieve something out of their big leaps, they would have to always keep in mind their ultimate goals, never letting them out of their sights. After cutting loose the golden cuffs of big brand names that kept her alive, there could be a dimensional shift in perception.
Now, her dream ‘Yoga Studio & Soul Cafe’ is within her reach. After her planned trip through Rishikesh, India, to learn yoga in a yoga ashram, she will write about her journey and on a personal level, I can’t wait for it! I can’t wait for her yoga classes after being a certified Yogini, motivational talks, and journey about minimalist living.
People won’t understand what you are doing but at the end of the day you gotta try all those endless opportunities waiting outside the corporate world. I will continue to write about my journey. I understand that my life can go either way now, but I won’t have regrets of not trying and learning something new
Some people find security in the corporate world because of its predictability. Your cycle continues and there are very few disruptions to it. Of course, there are, as usual, changes to the world that will ultimately upend your work life but when compared to life as an entrepreneur, it’s less of a tectonic life shift.
When I quit my job as a legal officer in one of the biggest banks in Malaysia, I jumped in the complete opposite direction. I went from someone people hated to someone people loved — the dreaded Grim Reaper lawyer to the singer on stage with that skimpy top.
Not too long ago, I was eyeball-deep in life and work when I found myself staring at a picture of me as a 6-year-old little girl on a giant slide on my way down. I had on a smile that spelled the perfect Universe. I found myself asking, “Where on earth did this little girl go?”
The answer was simple: That beaming little girl is right here, right there inside of you waiting patiently for you to listen again.
How Do you Make Working at Home Work?
Solo entrepreneurs often get the short end of the stick when it comes to making good impressions. We tend to be looked at with the side-eye, raised-eyebrow skepticism that I’ve grown accustomed to.
“Oh, you work alone? You poor lonely little thing”
But the truth of the matter is that solo business owners, the successful ones, often work with others by building alliances.
We know FULL WELL that no one can climb the mountain alone, hence, we build partnerships with others. It’s another challenge by itself but it works because solo entrepreneurs don’t have the leisure of having a full-time staff and are reliant on the savviness, reliability, and acumen of their alliances. Many of these alliances are contractors, virtual assistants, freelance copywriters, website designers, marketing consultants, bookkeepers, technical support groups…the list is endless.
What Is the Drive Behind Solo-Entrepreneurs?
If you’ve always wondered if you should hire the ‘lone-ranger’ entrepreneur because you doubt his or her capability or commitment to his or her work, I’m here to tell you that the passion and drive of a solo entrepreneur is 1000% STRONGER, BETTER and more EFFICIENT than any employee you can find on this planet!
We’ve made the leap without a safety net, we have everything to lose, this is our whole game now and we’re never going down without a fight or fair competition. We’re also not afraid of rejection (our skin has grown so thick, we’re NASA-approved), and we’re also ready to work our asses off.
And is this what Ruchika is looking for when it comes to her life? Is this what happiness looks like?
Maybe, maybe not. But I’ll let her answer that for herself.
For self-employed professionals, one of the biggest complaints about their lives as an employee was that they disliked office politics. They felt imprisoned by all the games played in corporations. Solo entrepreneurs use their free will to make business decisions.” — Daniel Pink; “Free Agent Nation”, 2001; p. 66Daniel Pink: Free Agent
Admittedly, solo-ing has its set of challenges but despite it all, the rewards (sometimes, we have to slow down to see it in a better light) is clouded by the stress and unsettling doubts that veil our days and nights, but if you think of it as a lifestyle, the job of a passionate soloist with the will of the devil, you will become what you love.
Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.” What’s more, two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity — Remote.coRemote.co
Looking Fear in the Face and Rising Anyway
People like Ruchika are daring individuals who have seen and contemplated the volcanic depths of impossibility, fear, uncertainty, and failure. And yet, we’ve made the leap.
Entrepreneurs, in my personal opinion, should not be given the side-eye. Instead, we should be given not just the benefit of the doubt but also respect that we deserve.
Because just think about it — before we made the leap, we’ve looked fear in the face, we’ve cowered in fright and retreated back to safety, and yet, we’ve come back up, again and again, to fight for what we are passionate about.
Much like Captain Marvel (if you’ve not watched it, sorry, that was a VERY soft spoiler there — lol — go watch it!), we were brought down to our knees but we rose, fell, and rose again. And no matter what is in front of us, we know we’re going to just rise again.
And that’s the kind of persistent, resourceful, relentless, tireless, inexhaustible person you want backing you up.
Note: This article was inspired by and written thanks to notes and contribution from Ruchika Pandey. Thanks and YOU GO, GIRL! You can follow her new Facebook pageto stalk her new adventures or follow her Instagram account(@acatharticjourney) for envy-worthy pictures of her new life.