“You don’t have to be a mirror image of somebody else”: Minal Srivastava Shares Life Mantras for #9RealWomen9RealStories

I belong to a very small town. I always feel that I am a small towner at heart because after 20 years I still crave that sort of life. When I was starting I had no understanding of what working meant, or what a career meant because of the women around me, whose format of careers was very different. For example, my mother has been working as retired as a professor. However, the choice was not made by her the choice was made by her family as it was touted to be a kind of work that you can easily do alongside taking care of your family. 


A Rebel Or Not One?


I always somehow knew that my career path has to be different. As a woman you find it challenging because what you know yourself and what you expect from yourself doesn’t fit into the definition of what the corporate expects you to be. So my biggest challenge was to be true to myself. The challenge is not from the corporate space, I think the challenge has been more internal and it’s taken me 20 years to be where I am -- essentially being very secure in knowing who you are and standing by that. There was a point in my career when I was handling a role that needed a lot of conventional, masculine ways of doing things. It needed a bit of strength at my end to refuse to do that and then craved something which was very intrinsically me. It was essentially more feminine maybe but because that is what I am. So, it took me some time to accept and some time to say, “Well, I don’t have to be a mirror image of somebody else who is not me”. 

It’s not about working or not working. It’s finding the right format of work that works for you. It’s finding the right set of people around you that work for you. It’s about finding the right kind of work that works for you. If anything, makes you feel miserable and unhappy then you should step away from it. 


Invest In Yourself


I love working honestly. I have reached that stage where I have been working for 20 years and I can’t think of myself as any other way of life. However, there will be days when your work will be extremely overwhelming, you will get immensely tired; but then there will be days when you would be spending time with your child, family, and parents. Probably try and invest in yourself. As human beings, we have learned to probably exist in a moment. There will be moments that will get overwhelming, and there will be moments where you will be happy with the balance that your life has.


So, I don’t think anything in my life is well-planned. Most of my life’s biggest decisions were spontaneous and that’s how lots of my jobs happened for me.  


I can’t visualize how my life would have been shaped because most of my decisions were based on a micro view of life. Now I think women have more information and how you use that information to take your life decisions, is obviously critical. 


With excerpts from Minal Srivastava, Deputy Executive Director, Dalmia Bharat Group


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