Are you one of those people who is always seeking more? More experiences to try, more things to accomplish, more ways to push yourself harder, and more time to yourself? I was like that. I didn’t know how to stop and savor the moment. Now I do.
A couple of years ago, I was in a job that was good, easy, and convenient, but I yearned for more. I wanted a challenging and exciting role, a position that would make my heart sing. More than that, I wanted freedom–the ability to make decisions and exert more control over my life.
What I want to share with you is that betting on yourself is scary but entirely worth it. Despite my fears, on September 2016, my friend and I launched an online sustainable fashion retail company, S9 Muses. Our designers use age-old techniques to create contemporary designs. What I gained from taking the plunge is an entirely new world where I could be, and was encouraged to be, creative and spontaneous. Don’t get me wrong, investing in yourself requires long hours but what makes it sustainable is that I am doing it for me. It’s incredibly liberating to work for myself in an area that I feel passionate about and have the flexibility to work from home.
Launching my own business has come with exposure to like-minded people who share my ethos and sensibilities, which has been amazing. It has also come with numerous challenges. The life-work balance right now tilts toward work, and I was incorrect to believe that starting a company would trigger immediate control over my life; it didn’t. It does in the sense that I can take time for myself, but with any new business or startup, founders feel guilty for doing so because we feel the need to ensure that our company is thriving. The less-spoken rule is that success, for the majority of us, does not happen instantly.
Trying to maintain a sustainable day-to-day life balance has been my biggest challenge. Work is not the only area where I want to succeed. I have other aspirations–painting and writing. Furthermore, I need time to take care of myself, cook and eat healthy, exercise, and spend time with family and friends. Each item on my self-care list translates to pressure. Pressure to do well, pressure to make others happy, pressure to do what we think others expect of us, and pressure we put on ourselves. For someone who thrived on pushing for more, perhaps I should have been able to cope and work around the rising stress levels. I didn’t and soon realized I was beginning to burn out.
Did it matter if my online sales had not soared as I had anticipated? Did it matter that I wanted to be successful? Did it matter that I desperately wanted children? Did it matter that on some days, all I wanted to do was lie in the sun? Did it matter that I wanted to be able to achieve it all (the perfect life), and be on top of my work and home life? Yes. Yes to all. It all mattered. But, the hard truth is that everything cannot be perfect at the same time. There is no such thing as perfection.
I get stressed quite easily, especially when a lot is going on around me. It’s a toxic rut. I want to be busy and accomplish many things at once, but I also crave solitude and moments of calm–a paradox in itself. I have come to realize that a rush-rush way of life is not sustainable in the long run, at least not for me. So, that is when I decided to slow down. Take the time to rest when I require it, without feeling guilty about it. Take long walks, sit in nature, and observe my surroundings. Meditate to calm my mind.
I have surrendered to the truth: I cannot do everything at the same time and still be productive. Sometimes, I need to choose only a few things for the day and be happy to have accomplished them. Do not be deceived though, it’s all still a lesson in progress and I still do get anxious occasionally. However, I’m learning to better manage it by taking a step back.
There are three essential realizations I’ve encountered and would like to share:
- Only you stop yourself from being happy in whatever you do.
- Only you stop yourself from actually living a sustainable life, suited for you.
- The key to happiness is satisfaction. If you control your mind to be satisfied, then everything is always enough.
Being ambitious and a go-getter are not negative traits. By contrast, you work harder for what you want and do not sit idle waiting for things to fall on your lap. But, the body and mind require periods of rest and reflection to function at optimum.
There is a quote that I regularly refer to in order to remind me of the above:
“In my frenzy to get everything out of life, I have often squeezed the life out of everything.” – Clarissa Tan (1972–2014)
About the author
Sita Shah is the co-founder of S9 Muses, an online retail website that curates collections from new-age, luxury designers who advocate fresh ideas for women from all walks of life. Having graduated with a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering in 2006, Sita worked as a Production Editor for scientific journals, before moving on to working in the pharmaceutical industry. Her quirky love of fashion and the pure joy of finding non-conventional pieces to brighten her wardrobe is what lead her to start S9 Muses.
Passionately supporting ethical fashion, S9 Muses is all about educating through storytelling. They hope to offer a different mix of collections that are familiar, yet quirky, and their similarity lies in their production. All handmade, some upcycled, some recycled, adding textures and prints, each with its own story to tell. The collections are made to be worn daily, and evoke that sense of pure satisfaction you get from wearing a beautifully crafted piece.
Website: S9 Muses