Exactly 2 years ago today, a month after my 25th birthday, I fell to the floor grasping my chest for air. Over the course of the next 5 months, I was tied to heart monitors, IVs, and lost all mobility in my legs. I had recently moved back to New York City after landing my “dream” job. M&A, consulting for the biggest brands in the world, working in a cutthroat environment with graduates from the Ivies (I was the only one from a non top 10 school, go Sun Devils!), and an office which overlooked all of Manhattan.
Life seemed to be coming together, having even gotten engaged four months earlier. Then things got real. Due to the competitiveness of the industry, a desire to prove myself, and my want to make enough money to support my family, my daily schedule turned into the following:
Wake up and respond to work emails — 4:00AM
Workout/Get ready/Leave for work — 5:30AM
Reach work/Eat breakfast (AKA a cup of Greek yogurt) — 6:00AM
Meetings begin — 7:00AM
Lunch break? Who takes lunch breaks — non-existent, salad at desk
Meetings end — 7:00PM
But there’s free dinner after 7:00PM— work until 9 while eating
Limo drops you home — 10:30PM
Change, work in bed until 1:00AM
Do it all over again, 7 days a week because there’s just no time to have a life beyond that well-designed Manhattan office
You may think I’m crazy, and I looking back I would, too. But if you’re really honest with yourself, this scenario amongst 20-something's looking to prove themselves in their fields (particularly in big cities) is very common. Yet rarely does anyone admit to it, instead being enticed by the money, the opportunity, and the sex appeal.
I’ve watched my once very healthy friends have panic attacks, suffer from insomnia, migraines, anger management issues, fainting spells all because of the expectations demanded by their jobs, start ups, the ‘billable hour’ syndrome, and FOMO (the fear of missing out).
Today at 27, I head product and operations in the US for one of the largest media companies in the world, recently published a book, and founded an incredible Network of Women. I also work strictly 8AM — 6PM five days a week, sleep seven hours a day (without sacrificing my salary), practice yoga/meditation daily, am happily married to my best friend, and most importantly, am striving to do the best I can in the present while staying true to myself and my loved ones.
Certain incidences happened that made me realize that since these conditions were with me for life, I should arm myself with the right tools, knowledge, and people that will make me stronger, or waste time feeling sorry for myself. I only hope others can learn and make a change in their lives sooner than later.
It’s basically about switching the way you process information. There’s one thing living with pain but there’s another thing not feeling blessed with the opportunity you have been given to better yourself and hopefully those around you. There are always ways to heal, but it starts with acceptance, hard work, and a positive attitude.
Hey, I was told 2 years ago that I would never be able to walk long distances or work a ‘stressful’ full time job (what jobs don’t come with an ounce of stress?) — in September my husband Rahul and I completed a 35 mile bike race in NYC and I just finished a 200-hour Vinyasa yoga training. Anything is possible.
Hearing more and more stories from friends, people I work with, mentor, or have met along the way, inspired me to write this. Of course everyone’s situations are different, but we were all given internal strength to move forward — and that fire should never burn out.
Virgilia Kaur Pruthi is a passionate entrepreneur, product enthusiast and community builder. She loves connecting with positive people and is the founder of Network of Women and the author of An Immigrant's Guide To Making It In America, available here.
This post originally appeared on Medium.
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