Each person has an internal purpose which not fulfilling may make life seem pointless. For me that was writing.
If you asked seven-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said, ‘child doctor’. That was not because I had any inclination to be one, but that I was taught to say it.
When I was a little older, it was clearer to me that I wanted to be a writer. When I spoke about it however, arguments broke out and always ended in me crying myself to sleep.
The pressure to become a doctor was so strong I’m surprised it didn’t crush my dream altogether. I wasn’t given choices and I had no money, no certificates and no legal rights. Seventeen years old and full of sorrow, I joined a prestigious medical school in India, admitting freely to everyone I met that I didn’t want to be there.
Through the 5 years of my training, mean words were exchanged at home. I was so frustrated and angry I hardly recognised who I had become. When I rekindled talk of my dream to be a writer, my family called me ‘selfish’. They said, ‘the wrath of God will fall on me’. They insulted me over and over again until I began to believe the lies.
But towards the end of it, something had happened. The sensitive soul I was had brazened. It was as if, my mind was getting ready for battle and building its defences. People’s words still affected me, but my own happiness took precedence.
The Voice within me that was silenced for years spoke again. ‘Ann. I want you to be a writer. Medicine is not the path for you.’ It urged me day after day to examine who I really am. I found that because I had denied my identity as a writer, I was very unhappy and on the brink of a major break down.
Because the patriarchal ties that bound me were very strong, my then boyfriend and I made plans to get married before the next cycle of oppression began. And within a couple of months of our wedding, I could finally quit medicine.
It took a while for me to regain my bearings as a writer. I felt like I had lost years and years of learning. I hadn’t read as much literature as I had hoped I would have. I hadn’t participated in discussing issues that mattered to me. I felt like I could never build myself up from there.
But the Voice within wasn’t ready to give up. It gave me one task. ‘Write one book for me and I will help write the rest,’ It said. The topic was clear, the structure took form in a few weeks and I began to write.
It was a year of self-discovery, of healing from trauma, of philosophising and introspecting and getting my thoughts on paper.
At the end of it, I went back to my family, hoping that they would be proud. But all they said was, ‘this is just common sense’, ‘nobody should spend money to read this. If you really want to do some good, make it available online for free’, and ‘any of who reads this will commit suicide.’
But I was more motivated than ever to follow my heart.
I joined a course on creative writing and began to create worlds which aren’t completely mine to tell bits and pieces of things that have affected me directly or in association.
All of my work reflects my journey. I am a big believer in self-discovery and I help people through this.
In my stories I show how subtle and prevalent oppression can be. I write on the themes of women’s rights, child rights, patriarchy, casteism, colourism, regionalism, migration, ethics in medicine, parent-child relationships, mental health, chronic illness and abuse.
I write because I hope that through my writing people like me will find the support and strength within and without to truly be themselves.
I’m still not the writer I wanted to be. But I am a writer. And finally happy.
There are two other major kinds of work I do now: Coaching and Content Creation. Here’s why:
Medicine to writing is not the only career shift I’ve made. There are smaller changes that I’ve embraced within the field of writing: medical writing to writing non-fiction to writing short stories to writing personal stories and to teaching the art of writing for business.
I’ve found that it’s in these times of change that I’ve best grown to understand my purpose, what gives me joy and the best way to convey my vision to others.
To help entrepreneurs embracing similar changes, I’ve created my signature one-to-one. It aims to dig deep into your heart, help you figure out what you absolutely love and enjoy doing and bring that into your life and work. Read more about this here.
We might be clear about our purpose and why we’re doing it, but unless we can convince others of its worth, our work cannot grow.
I have learnt that the best way to communicate our work is through our personal stories. Our stories are our most powerful tools. They can evoke emotions, compel action and inspire lasting change.
Evocative stories, written with beautifully simple calls-to-action can propel us and our businesses forward like nothing else can.
My work helps women entrepreneurs unearth their personal stories and wield them in a deep, meaningful and authentic way to help them turn cold contacts into frequent buyers. If you’d like to explore this, click here to know more.