Lessons Pain Teaches

2017 was the most painful year for me personally and professionally. In April 2017 I met with a running related injury which initially seemed like it would go away, but later realized required a surgical intervention. But that is a story for another time.



Today I want to share about something I have never talked about before.

On the professional front, I decided to shut down my company which I started in 2013 - MediaLabs. After a long corporate stint with leading companies and being a consultant for a few years, I finally decided to start off on my own. The idea of this startup was a project pitch I had made to an international bank for their backend operations support. Back in 2013 digital marketing companies were still emerging and no one had a concrete idea of how social and digital media actually works as a marketing tool. But everyone wanted to try it since it was the most sought after channel. My project pitch to my client included a lot of background research work for almost 4 months and a month of putting the actually numbers on paper. Finally, after a couple of rounds of discussions, the client changed their mind because they felt it was better to outsource than to get it done inhouse. 

I was dejected and felt I should have pitched better. I saw tremendous potential and I was totally convinced about the business model. During a discussion with my husband, he proposed that if I'm so convinced I should do it myself. My initial reaction was shock. But then after a few days, I was convinced that if I'm so passionate about the idea, when no one believes in it, I should. My husband and I brainstormed on various aspects and finally it came down to money. We had some savings and we agreed to put that into the business. And thus our second baby - MediaLabs was born. 

My second baby? Yes. Right from the day we decided to start the company, I have only lived, breathed, dreamed of MediaLabs. From deciding on the name, to the logo, to what it signifies, to what will be our service offerings, to just about everything, it was the only thing in my mind. We hired resources and started pitching to clients. Within 3 months, we moved into our own office space. With newer clients, the team grew. Our work was getting noticed and appreciated. But soon competition became fierce. And with tremendous cost pressures, I wasn't able to keep the business afloat. I was barely making my ends meet. 

My husband kept on reminding me that its just a business and the wise thing to do would be to shut it down. But for me it wasn't "just a business". It was years of blood and sweat poured into it. I kept holding on to it because it was my baby. Finally when push came to shove, mid of 2017 I decided to call it quits. The decision was a logical one but to accept it, took me a long time. 

The pain was intense. I felt extremely responsible for my employees and made sure each one was placed within my network of friends and clients. I tried reasoning out if and buts in my head. Many days I would sit in my car, not knowing how I'm going to handle the day. It suddenly felt like I was a nobody. As I was winding down the office, settling bills, signing experience letters, the hard facts started hitting me - what would I do next? I was emotionally destroyed. I would cry myself to sleep many days thinking how can I be so passionate about something but couldn't make it work. I lost confidence. I lost my self esteem. I didn't want to meet people for the fear of confronting them about my work. Over the years my designation had become my identity. I now felt stripped of my identity. I was confused, guilty and broken at the same time. I was in pain. Pain has a funny way of making you feel hopeless and inadequate. During this time, I also underwent a knee surgery, which confined me indoors for a few months. Anyways the surgery had to be done, sooner or later, so the timing was perfect to suppress the emotional pain with the physical pain.

Pain comes in all shapes and forms. After enduring the highest mileage yesterday I learnt that many things are in our control. For example - Pain. The physical discomfort of running a distance is there for everyone - right from the person who stands on the podium to the person who finishes the last. The struggle is real. But what separates us runners from the rest of the world is that we choose to embrace pain, live through it and realm in it. That is in our control. How we work through the pain is also in our control. Some choose to talk about it, some choose to endure it, and some chose to live with it.

Pain makes you resilient. Pain makes you fearless. Pain makes you tough. Most importantly pain also teaches you to get back on your feet. After enduring what seemed impossible physically, I suddenly see a ray of hope within myself. I sense a confidence building inside me to get back up and start again. My belief in myself has slowly started growing. And I think it's time to let go of some older pains to earn some new ones.

So why am I sharing it with you today? Because today it felt right to share. Maybe I found my "why" or maybe I finally found a way to let go? 

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