Saturday, July 20, 2019

Infinite curiosity - promising stories about young women - 1

I have the curiosity of a journalist, though not their distrust. I see everyone as manifestation of consciousness but am infinitely curious about why we individual beings think and act the way we do. So to indulge this streak I have long conversations where I mostly listen without judgement. I am often impressed and definitely amused and entertained. On rare occasion, I am caught off-guard by the sheer brilliance of a clear mind and well rounded personality.

I had one such encounter earlier this week. What made it all the more incredulous is that this young woman is very big. I am sure most people do not look past this fact - because as humans with limited capacities we latch on to certain superficial aspects of personality to define the rest of them. We stereotype big people as being irresponsible, overindulgent, lazy and devoid of self control. And maybe these become self fulfilling prophecies. I needed to know the person behind this veneer and boy was I glad I chose to find out!

So this young girl is just over twenty and a recent graduate who is working her first “real job”.. I asked her about her work. She said she was in digital marketing at an e-commerce firm. She did their SEOs, directed their youtube promotional videos and managed the channel. She had graduated from a coveted and competitive
Marketing program. How did she like her job, I casually enquired. To which she replied that she was learning a lot but this was a stepping stone towards some pretty lofty goals. What were they? “Well I want to study at Stanford and ultimately work for Disney”, she said. She gave a self conscious gurgle and added “maybe I have set my sights too high”. I immediaty thought “maybe she has” but did not want to burst that bubble? Instead I chose to explore if this was a passing thought or a deep seated yearning. I was stunned by what I discovered about this sunny, positive woman who has been charting her career path since she was little.

She grew up in a little town in Tamilnadu which is steeped in orthodoxy around women’s roles. At best, girls from middle class families, are sent to college with the ultimate aim of securing them a good husband to look after them. In that town, where she had little opportunity to speak English, her teacher mother introduced her to books. She read and re-read Harry Potter and kept up inner conversations “in spells”, discovered Marvel comics, which she could lay her hands on, watched science fiction series on the good old Star TV Channel and, later, streamed. She devoured Dan Brown’s books and developed a fascination for weaving stories with deep, inner meaning and mystery. Alongside this, she became curious about social media and influencers even when it was not a “thing” and saw its infinite potential in selling product. She wanted to parlay these interests into a profession. This led to more research and soul searching. She became a great fan of the human psychology behind consumerism and realized her passion for creating campaigns that would re-make the image of a product. Soon her icons were the ad makers who revived campaigns. To her it was not about “selling” but about cracking a code, solving a mystery, challenging herself to get behind the human mind to stimulate a mass movement. She wrote to her heroes and she got standard replies that they only hired top tier MBA graduates. She wrote to Disney and they told her she needed a visa to get into the US and then maybe! She saw all these as positive signs!

Today, all she does in her work and life is based on a plan - to hone these skills, with single- minded enthusiasm and passion, to get into an Ivy League program. At an age when most kids are confused, scattered, hormone driven and reactive, this child is clear, focussed, self aware and positive. She has no time or band width to obsess over her weight and she is definitely not defined by how she looks, only by how she thinks! So very refreshing. She is academically whipper smart, is building a portfolio of achievements, reading, observing, building skills, gaining knowledge through everything she does and all with a chipper “can do” attitude! Why would she not get into Disney? They would be lucky to have her!

If you would like to mentor her, please get in touch with me!