Shreya Krishnan – The first moments when I was deliberating on starting BossGirl as a platform, Shreya and Shruti were foremost on my mind. I have met Shreya, may be three times only and literally fleeting moments. But it was enough for me to know that this girl was no ordinary girl. Ever since I read her interviews, I cannot tell you how humbled I fee;. This girl is a complete powerhouse and yet, she wears her humilty on her sleeves.
Her story is about overcoming grief, moments of complete helplessness, rising above body shaming, breaking the social norms of beauty and yet reigning it as a crowned queen and many more challenges.
Presenting, Shreya Krishnan, my Boss Girl, I am so proud to know and feel fortunate to have met. Go on, read and be inspired 🙂
1. Sum it up at the very outset for our readers, Shreya.
So many stories and so much to tell, but I will be happy to give you many one-line stories
No engineering or MBA, but a management career;
The tough road to motherhood – 6 pregnancies and one baby;
Happy go lucky tomboy turns into a pageant winner.
2. Would you like to share your stories of your pregnancies and miscarriages.
Well, yes. In my journey towards motherhood, we had a few bumps along the way, a combination of miscarriages and abortions. I learnt a few things on the way to motherhood. In our society we are conditioned to not talk about Miscarriages and Abortions, which is quite unfortunate. They happen for many reasons and yet we keep it wrapped as a dirty secret or a guilty secret or somewhere in between. We need to reorient ourselves to understand that it is Okay! It is normal, natural, and as everyday as menopause. As women, we have to start having conversations and nurturing an environment of understanding. We can rally support for women out there who are or have been through the loss of an unborn child. It is anyway a difficult or rather one of the most painful situations in any woman’s life and by not talking about it or not making it a part of mainstream conversations, we are making it more difficult for all of us.
3. It must have been a difficult time… Would you describe it as the breaking point in your life?
I think that a lot of my difficult phases in life revolved around my pregnancy and the one time I miscarried when I was 4 months pregnant was the breaking point. It took a lot out of me to get back to normal after that incident. It cannot be explained, it cannot be broken down, and it cannot be fathomed by anyone who has not been through it. The truth is that many of us have been through it and many of us may end up having to face it.
People judge, period! But, that does not define us nor does it have to make us feel guilty. The choice to have or not to have a baby is entirely up to the parents and more so the mother. There is a lot of stigma attached to this form of loss, so it ends up mostly being bolted down inside and that makes the natural process of depression after the loss of a child a lot more intense. The sorrow, the bitterness, the angst, the depression, it’s yours to feel, cry over and allow it all to leave your system. Don’t expect everyone to understand either, sometimes you are on your own and even your partner may not know how to deal with these feelings and emotions. Remember, everyone close to you has also been affected by your loss.
Help is always around, ask for it, acknowledge that you need it and don’t be ashamed for it. Loss and grief are a part of our lives and the sooner we learn that, the easier it becomes for us to bear it or to let it go…
4. You are a very succesful professional. You are, if I am not mistaken, one of the top marketing heads to watch out for in the country. Tell me, what is the biggest life challenge you have had to overcome?
Motherhood. Yes, Motherhood is challenging. It comes with it’s share of Guilt. Being torn between a baby and an equally exciting job and trying to strike a balance, but always knowing that there is no balance. If one gets more attention, the other suffers. But, I am still learning to overcome it and am hoping as my baby grows, it will get better. You have to make peace with the fact that you could miss her first steps, her first words, and many more firsts. I am doing this every day and want to share it with all of you out there…Shrug off that guilt. You are doing the best you can. You are doing enough.
5. You are a career woman, a working Mom. How or what do you have to tell Mothers who want to pursue their careers after Motherhood but do not have the courage to go ahead with it simply because of the daunting responsibilities at hand.
We are torn between should-work, shouldn’t-work, want-to-work, not-allowed-to-work, can’t-work and I don’t know how many more reservations and limitations. Personally, I feel it’s not a choice. I think all women should work. It’s the way to an equal world. Financial independence can empower and liberate women.
Having said that, it’s also okay for women who want to take a break from their careers to do so. I just think that the choice has to be an informed one that makes the woman happy to not influence by the world or society or giving into family pressure. That’s unfair and that is what keeps most women away from careers after children.
All of us have to remember that even before we are Mothers, we are Women. Multi-tasking comes naturally to us and which is why, the Lion’s share of tasks come to to us as soon as we step out of our homes to pursue our careers. But then, shirk not. Do it anyway, if it keeps you happy. Happy Mothers make Happy Homes! Concentrating on the well-being of our selves is not selfish, rather it is core to the very health of our homes, and our society at large.
6. You faced a lot of shaming as a kid on being dark skinned etc. Tell us about that. Was it sad or depressing being called names?
You think there is any escaping for a dark scrawny bespectacled child in India to grow up and not be name called?! I was an awkward teen, an angular tomboy who dressed in clothes too big, a plain looking college goer, a decently dressed working woman and one who didn’t care about what the world thought. I remember growing up with comments about my dark skin and how I wasn’t essentially pretty and behaved like such a boy…With myopic eyes that needed thick cylindrical glasses, I remember being called soda after my soda-bottle thick glasses through my school days.
However, through all my trying times, the one thing that stayed with me was was my Confidence. Even when I was the nerdy awkward looking girl I used to still have the exact same amount of confidence and my teachers back then used to call it overconfidence. I had the spirit to turn a deaf ear to the world and it’s perceptions of me.
I don’t know where I got the confidence from because that is what has helped me put my honest personality out there, but am I glad that I had it then and that it never left no matter what challenges the world threw at me. I remember even back then I would dance and pose for the camera and I was very happy in the skin I was in. Being a tomboy helped me to not bother about outward appearances.
So today when someone tells me I’m beautiful or that I’m gorgeous or pretty, it only amuses me because in my head I’m still that same awkward girl who has a strong honest spirit and confidence. I don’t know how to react to such compliments and I don’t live in a false bubble of beauty. I also try very hard to not have body image issues and to body shame myself.
7. Very recently, you were crowned Mrs India Universe – World, Gold category. You also won the
Subtitles of Mrs India Universe – Beauty with a Purpose and Mrs India Universe – Confident. But I have also read it before in one of your posts that this wasn’t necessarily a Dream come true for you. How come it wasn’t, Shreya?
I don’t believe I’m beautiful, at least not in the traditional sense of the word… The beautiful context of me does not conform to the stereotypes that the media and society believe is beautiful. Having said that I love myself, I love who I was in the past and who I have become over time.
I wasn’t the girl growing up who dreamt about being a princess or a queen, never liked dolls and didn’t imagine a tiara on my head. So it’s something that happened organically over time. A dark skinned tomboy whose journey reached here.
The Pagaent was truly an amazing experience. We were trained and groomed by some of the best in the business. We shared learning and enjoyed the process. I stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the stunning glamorous women who were so wonderfully dressed and well turned out. I was the simplest at the risk of being too plain. But I managed to break every stereotype in the book that exists about beauty and managed to plant the seed of being self aware and being content with who you are and embrace yourself for your imperfections.
The love I got from all of these women was overwhelming and they made me one of them, helped me pick outfits and match lipstick and shared their baubles, taught me to pose like a model and embraced me and made me feel at home. Now I come back with having made friends for a lifetime.
I went super under-prepared clearly but I was happy to have stuck to my style. I wore Handlooms and nosepins and clothes that were entirely my style and was happy to have made my very own style statement. Again a reinforcement that it’s absolutely amazing to be yourself and to stand your ground.
This crown is a reminder to every woman that it’s not about what you look like or how you dress or what body size you are, it’s a reminder that if you’re honest and true to the essence of yourself and you genuinely stay grounded and wear your personality on your sleeve, you will win hearts and that is of so much more value than any crown that you will ever win in a lifetime.
8. Who or what are your inspirations? Who do you look up to?
I have had inspiring people all around me, there’s so much to learn from everyone around you, failure and success both teach so do love and pain. If you don’t push yourself from within, you will always be limited by internal constraints, you need a push in the right direction that powers you that only you can do.
Having said that I have had an amazing family of super women and a whole lot of friends who have brought out the best in me.
As for celebrities who inspire me – Emma Watson and Oprah Winfrey top the list.
9. Okay, a cliched question, that I just must have to ask. How do you manage to balance home and work?
I live in the midst of chaos, I don’t believe in work-life balance because work is as much a part of my life as my family or anything else. So it’s seamless for me… I cannot break the two into independent entities. I like a good life and I love my work, so I do all that I can to ensure I give it my best. I also have a phenomenal support system… They all play a role in my success as I get to get away because they exist and take over my roles and responsibilities.
Also, when you want to do something, you’ll make it happen. It’s as simple as that.
10. What is your take on Self Affirmation? Do you think it is underrated? Do you think it is quintessential for success?
It surely is important because if you don’t believe in the one person who can actually make anything happen and who is under your control, it’s yourself… I think it’s quintessential for a healthy happy living… It’s connected to spirituality and being connected to yourself makes it easier to align to your goals…
11. What makes you happiest… from within.
Dance – any form of dance totally speaks to my soul…that makes me happy.
12. Give me that one quote you live by… not someone elses’, but yours.
I’ll give you what I wrote a long time ago
Girls! Smile at a stranger, eat a meal at your favourite restaurant alone, laugh at something silly, learn to drive, drive away on your own, plan a tour with your camera and a book you have been waiting to read, quit your job if you don’t like it, dance till you rip your shoes, flirt with that cute guy, go watch a movie alone with popcorn for company, do something you love, cook yourself a midnight feast, carry pepper spray and don’t be afraid to use it, wear whatever you want to, don’t bother with the world, live like you don’t care who’s watching or what society thinks, break up if its going nowhere – marriage and commitment is not bigger than your happiness or peace, wear liberation on your sleeve, don’t tolerate patriarchy or gender bias, rebel if the cause is worth it… teach your kids that there is more shades of grey than black and white and to live life on their terms… Be Empowered! Be Independent! Be Confident! Be beautiful! It all lies within…