It was Christmas Eve; and, instead of spending the evening at home with my family, I was at the motel helping my husband with the shortage of housekeepers. It’s what I signed up for, so I willingly helped with whatever he needed. The problem with the situation was that, although I was supportive, I was regularly accused of the opposite. My husband was ‘gaslighting’ me, or in other words, making me doubt my sense of reality. My reality had become warped, and my vision completely obscured. I was losing my sense to judge what was right, and what was wrong.
In June 2017, something inside of me clicked, and I had an epiphany. I was in Mexico celebrating my 30th birthday, without my husband. He called me that evening to wish me a happy birthday (or so I thought). As soon as the phone rang, I was blown away by the flurry of angry words hurled out of my husband’s mouth. I hung up the phone. When I did, something inside of me died. I did not know how, but I was going to leave my husband when I went back home. The desire to find happiness was so intense that nothing else mattered. With that in mind, I flew home, packed up my belongings, and moved back into my parent’s house.
At first, life sucked. I went from living in a condo in San Francisco overlooking the bay, to my childhood bedroom. I had to sell all my furniture, box up all my kitchen tools and appliances, and my closet wasn’t big enough to house half my wardrobe. At the age of 30, I was living with my parents and had the word “divorced” smeared over my name. I was the first kid in my family to get married, and the first to get divorced. I had failed myself. For years, I promised myself I would find the right man who I’d create an amazing empire with. We would be unstoppable and achieve anything we wanted. We would be happy together. The more I thought about my failure, the more depressed I got. I didn’t like spending time with anyone, and although I’d be able to fake a smile at work, I would come home, hop into bed, and watch Netflix until I fell asleep.
When students ask me for career advice, I always tell them to get a mentor to not just steer them in the right direction from an educational perspective, but in a personal one as well. I met my mentor when I was a bouncing 22-year-old fresh out of college and selling IT and phone services to small businesses. Since then, he and I developed a close business relationship as well as friendship. Shortly after I separated from my husband, I met my mentor for lunch. The color was gone from my eyes and the spirit flushed out of me. I told him that I didn’t know how I was going to bounce back. He saw something in me that I did not see. I wrote off the most important detail of the whole experience. I walked away from an abusive relationship and deserved more credit than I was willing to give myself. We began meditating together. He would send me guided meditation videos; we’d plan time, and meditate before bed. We did this for two months together. When 2018 came along, I was ready to say goodbye to my past. I wasn’t sad or mad about any of it anymore. I accepted it and was ready to put it behind me and embrace a new era in 2018.
When 2018 came, I hit the ground running. I traveled to NYFW for the 3rd time, I launched a YouTube channel, and I was messaged by agencies about various modeling opportunities. In March, I flew down to Los Angeles and walked the runway for local designers to showcase their collections to some of the most elite buyers in the fashion industry. Through my recovery, I became very passionate about SoulCycle as a way to get in shape and find inner peace. I became so passionate that SoulCycle approached me and asked me to represent them as a SoulPartner. I started a talk show that I used to discuss relatable topics in the South Asian community. I even opened up about my marriage through this outlet.
Despite my past, I view the entire experience as a huge lesson. I had to fight for myself in a way that I never did before. I realized that no one was going to fight harder for me than me. If I didn’t see my worth, no one else was going to. I was forced to choose between my marriage and my happiness, so I chose the latter. I would choose it 1000x’s over because I now know that is the key to success in life. When you do what makes you happy, everything will fall into place. Life is quite simple when a lot of the noise is canceled out. So, be happy and live your life. You only get one.