I believe there is a constructed fallacy in the way we have been made to perceive our career options. I believe this is most prevalent in our Indian culture which we Desis carry everywhere we migrate. We seem to believe in an imposed system that we have to be good at one thing and dominate that one thing, only. Well, I am not made that way.
It is befitting that I have titled this piece using the letter “T”. Alliteration aside, the letter “T” resembles a three-way intersection, a metaphor for the confluence of multiple entities and in this case, three paths.
I believe being able to be two things, or more, at once, stems from my upbringing. Much of my life, I have rebelled against society’s enforcement of having to choose one identity over another. I was a student-athlete, juggling academics and athletics with equal importance; I am Indo-American, shuttling between Mumbai and America; and Hindu-Sikh, hopping between Gurdwaras and Mandirs. I have been happy self-identifying as both. I am happiest living in the hyphen of the thin dash that conjoins the seemingly opposite worlds of India and America. Living in such a narrow and isolated line made me agile and over time, I realized l created my own identity. The same applies to my careers. Pursuing one doesn’t forsake the other. Even though my careers may appear to have nothing to do with each other, time has made me an expert in bridging differences and finding the grey between black and white.
Today, I am privileged to be the co-founder of Indi.com India, a global content platform where brands engage with their audiences. I’m also the founder of Impact Media 360 where I create and produce “purposeful programming,” TV programs that catalyze change. I’m also actively involved in the sports sector as a coach, mentor, and advocate for female empowerment through sport. One may see these as three separate careers but I see them all as a single expression of myself. When someone asks me what I do for a living I say, “I’m an impact entrepreneur using the mediums of media, technology, and sport to incite change.” I made my own career just like I made my own identity. Nobody or no societal construct can impose limits on my identity and expression. I don’t have to forsake anything.
When it comes to maximizing the hours of my day, I remember some advice I was given by my mother. She always said, “just get started”. When we sit and overthink problems that have yet to arise, we build fear and doubt. Our dreams and passions fall off from our goal list not always because time has run out but because we focus so much about the how and when so we let the monster of doubt invade our minds and paralyze our actions. One thing that is constant is time, it will run out. Its not that we should see that as a threat but instead view each moment as an opportunity to follow our passions and drive them to success.
It’s true, there isn’t enough time to keep switching between everything you desire and complete it all in a sequence. The “together” part of my title is understandably the toughest but sometimes it is the best way to express your full personhood. That’s why I have chosen, and I believe everyone can choose to create their own paths and select their own identities; ones that are a combination of their desires, careers, and ultimately, statements of who they are.
Born and raised in Mumbai, as well as Princeton, NJ, Shikha Uberoi is a former top 100 WTA Tour tennis player, Asian Games Silver Medalist (Doha ’06), India number 1, Zee Astitva Athlete of the Year 2007, and Indian Icon 2015. She is the co-founder of Indi.com, a platform which uses the mediums of sports/fitness and media to incite change, and creator and executive producer of The Real Deal, the world’s first impact investing television show and 360-degree platform on social entrepreneurship.