Empowered Women: Finding Myself in a Foreign Country

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The third post in Stylewhack’s Empowered Women Series, where we bring stories of everyday women who have imbibed the meaning of ’empowered’ in their own personal way. Today we bring you the story of Deepika Banerjee, who talks about her stint of staying alone in the USA and how it has empowered her life.

I came to USA from a modest Indian setting. Raised by a single mother, my sister and I learnt the importance of independence at a very early age. Struggling to establish a professional stand in a male dominated profession, I was highly reluctant to deal with the massive expense of moving to another country and hence told myself that as long as I enjoy my work it doesn’t matter where I am. My sister, having been here a few years, knew better and kept nudging me to join her.

Eventually, an accident and three torn knee ligaments turned things around. Stuck in a situation where a simple visit to the washroom by myself became a luxury, the intense physical and psychological strain made me lose my confidence and I started feeling sorry for myself. This gradual yet evident transformation in me was unacceptable. I knew I had to do something about my life while I had the opportunity and decided to divert my mind to achieve a Masters degree. I imbibed the love and support I received, focussed on the job at hand and landed in Pittsburgh to study Urban Design at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Even though the western world is well known, the absence of a sense of familiarity can often be quite intimidating to start with, especially when you have literally just learnt to stand on your feet. Handed down things like a clean home, ready meals, clean laundry that you took for granted back home are now obsolete, though trivial compared to the tremendous exposure and opportunities afforded to me. With no time for doubts now, I pushed myself to keep up and in the attempt my confidence rose. Regular walks brought my leg back to a decent form and I was no longer limping from tired muscles. The shackling social and cultural barriers were suddenly gone and I was free to explore this new found liberation.

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I travelled, met varied people and discovered how passionately Indian I am at heart. I recreated resisted childhood activities, learnt to cook, hosted meals for friends, I attempted every new task that came my way. From being completely confined to a bed, to navigating the streets of New York relying only on my gps, life had completely transformed before my eyes and I was in absolute awe! For the first time, I stood up for myself, voiced my opinions and sought the value of self worth. Various setbacks at each step, taught me to improvise and manage things. Scared at first, I learnt to deal with life heads on. Finally living life my way, I am grateful for the support of my friends and family.

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All in all, at the end of the day, you can only strategize so much. The process of empowerment continues for me and I am thoroughly enjoying this quest of self discovery. America has undoubtedly provided me unexpected and mostly beautiful experiences and made me the person I am today. Every day I strive to become a better version of myself. Undoubtedly; this journey, with its highs and lows has been an absolute blessing! I am fascinated by the many discoveries I will make about myself in the days to come.

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Deepika Banerjee is an Architectural/Urban Designer and is extremely passionate about her work. She enjoys traveling, learning about different people and cultures and is an avid reader. She believes in living in the present works towards living each day to the fullest. She also enjoys and has trained in Indian classical dance and Music.

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