Home is where the heart is

couch I sleep on

Yes, I sleep here usually now.

It’s been awhile since I posted on here. So many things have transpired for me in the past couple months. Some for the better, others I’m not so sure about. One thing I do know though — these last few months after returning from Peru have had a huge impact on me. In fact, I see this year so far as having three major impacts on my life:

1) Being apart of an amazing Coworking Community that helped me grow as a person and really learn how to connect better with people on a personal and professional level with a simple idea: you are more inspired, passionate and productive when you work together rather than alone.

2) During the Summer I was bit by the travel bug and gained a thirst for adventure.

3) In the Fall, I returned home to KC under difficult circumstances where I re-connected to my roots, made critical business partnerships, and found focus and clarity through Yoga (I’ll be writing more in-depth about this in future posts).

I just keep thinking back to a day last Summer that I’ve never told anyone about. It boggles my mind that this day even took place with where I’m at mentally and physically at this very moment.

I reached a low point in the Summer of 2010, where I was not only depressed, but uncomfortable in my own skin. I was looking out in the world and seeing all these amazing things others were doing and seeing their successes as a reflection of how I’ve always failed at doing anything spectacular with my life. My life was so simple, so plain, so predictable, and so empty. Yet I had everything — I had a loving family back home, a great salary with a stable job, a nice apartment with a view over a beautiful park, and was living for the first time out of Kansas on the Front Range in Colorado. What more could I ask for? Why did nothing ever satisfy me? Why did I always feel second tier even to my friends?

I remember sitting under a tree in late May of 2010 at the park one evening with the biggest hole in my stomach. It was a painful feeling like a knot was tying me up from inside, pulling me in like an anchor I couldn’t stop from falling. I felt absolute uncertainty and loss of purpose. I crouched, hands around my feet, head down fighting the waves of tears that kept wanting to come pouring out of my eyes. I didn’t even know what I was sad about. So many people had it worse off than I did. I was actually privileged to be where I was, but here I sat, under a tree wondering why my life was passing me by. I did the only thing I knew at the time to do — just wait until the pain went away. I sat there for a few hours before I got up, wiped the emotions away and pretended nothing ever happend. Tomorrow was a new day, even if I wasn’t looking forward to it.

Reflecting back, I think experiences like this are more common than people are willing to admit. Our society is not so comfortable revealing the hardships and low points that make us who we are. We only like to see who we become, not the trials and tribulations that are encountered to get there. Entreprenuers and business owners face these moments of uncertainty constantly, some on a daily basis, but the difference is that they are treated as growth opportunities not validation of failure. And that’s the key. If you look at a moment like that as proof of not being able to accomplish anything, you probably won’t. Instead, you need to embrace such moments to gain clarity and vision on where to position yourself next. Where’s the next opportunity? How can I grow from this point forward?

It’s not an easy path working for yourself, that’s why everyone isn’t doing it. But it’s moments like this when you realize why you’re doing it.

Shortly after this, I received an e-mail that would change the course of the entire year ahead. My friend Kunjan and I had already started a business on the side of our jobs because we both were convinced about at least one thing — we wanted to do more than sit in a cubicle all day having our skills strip-mined and our futures decided by people who took our time in exchange for money. It was a big struggle to build up to the point where we were able to break out of the 9-5. Nothing comes easy in this world, but sometimes it can be a single catalyst that sets you off, and this e-mail was one. I’ll never forget my response to it which seems so hilarious to me now:

With that, we had our first client, and a long-term partner and friend in Raghu as he helped us throughout this year with business development while he went on to do bigger and better things on his own. I feel differently now about only doing work for clients and not focusing on your own projects, but this opportunity allowed us to really focus and take our business seriously. We had a goal, we had a vision, we had purpose, and we were working towards something. Personally, I gained more confidence, and continued to push myself out of my comfort zone which allowed me to meet the unbelievably passionate people through the Cohere Coworking Community I joined later that year.

After that, it was full speed ahead, we were getting referrals left and right, juggling many hats, trying to keep up with all the work that was now coming our way. The best part about our work was every single part of it was online, so we collaborated wherever we could find internet connections — Cohere, coffee shops, airports, friend’s/cousin’s places, or in our pajamas at home. This is actually the true benefit of working for yourself — the freedom you gain from it. Time is also worth currency even if it’s hard to quantify and completely worth monetary pay cuts due to the time you get back that could be used to put yourself in the path of greater opportunities you would otherwise have missed out on. It was this time and freedom that allowed me to take over 5 weeks of working vacations to Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Peru over the Summer.

It was really hard for me coming back to KC. I had enjoyed some of the best months of my life living in Northern Colorado; meeting, connecting, and working with some of the most inspiring people I know. Logistically, I didn’t have much of a choice. The rent in the apartment I had was being increased by $300 at the end of the lease and there was 17 days to move-out/find a new place while also trying to prepare for my 2 week trip to South America. I tried everything I could after I got back from Peru to stay — kept my things in a storage locker, lived on friend’s couches while I scoured craigslist for temporary living arrangements. All the while, realizing I was probably being selfish trying to remain in Colorado while our largest clients were in KC and Kunjan, getting married in January, had only a few months before he would be leaving to India; thus I only had a small window of opportunity to work closely with him before he left.

Home is where the heart is. Where our lifeforce keeps getting replenished. Our blood flows back through our heart before taking its trip through our many vessels delivering life throughout the rest of our body, our brain and our soul. It’s a cyclical process; one part cannot exist without the other. I decided to return home, to where my heart was, where my roots were, where my past was, and where most of my experiences in this life have been to understand where I needed to be and where I wanted to go. It just made sense at the time and I’m grateful I did. New business partnerships were made, current clients were able to meet more face to face, and exciting projects have been planned for 2012 that I can’t wait to announce. I also developed a deeper love of Yoga (more on that later).

That moment in the Summer of 2010 changed me. When I realized it was the way I valued myself and that I didn’t have to rely on external acceptance of others to be happy or fulfilled, the world began to open up to me. Seems like a simple, almost obvious fact — others don’t control your life, you do. But it’s hard to truly accept. Even if you’re dependent on others for money, shelter, food, at the end of the day, each breathe you take, each moment you experience is your own. You can choose to keep feeling sorry for yourself and being a victim or you can find excitement in everything you do, see opportunities and possibilities in everything you’re involved with, and impact the world in any way you wish.

As Ganhdi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

  • Darshben

    Good Job Cuz! I wish Family was mentioned somewhere in there! Maybe Im being a lil too selfish

    • http://ashokamaran.com Ashok Amaran

      Family is implied :)

  • Tony

    This could benefit from a tl;dr… :-P

    • Tony

      Good stuff though. When I was reading about you transition period in 2010, it’s like I wrote it. I felt the exact same way at Perceptive. Glad you got past it and that you’re doing so well. You should write a self-help book :-P.

    • http://ashokamaran.com Ashok Amaran

      tl;dr started company, felt lost, got saving e-mail, now #winning. and some stuff about Ghandi, yoga, kc, and the heart.

  • http://www.KevinUdy.com/ Kevin

    Inspirational reflections – thanks for writing Ash.

    • http://ashokamaran.com Ashok Amaran

      Thanks Kevin :)

      Means a lot to me.

  • Ramprakash

    Very nicely written Ashok. Inspirational stuff.
    I’m happy for you that it’s all working well…