So, a mid-life crisis can happen at any point in life, contrary to popular belief. For me it happened now, at the ripe old age of 30. In the middle of a pandemic. You might think the pandemic had something to do with it. It did. But it was only 1 piece of the puzzle. The rest had to do with me and my identity.
1) Who am I?
White Name is Sarathi Sakthivel. Real Name: Sarathimeyyappan Sakthivel.
It never really occurred to me that I was hiding from myself, because I have always identified as Indian American. But really, all of these years I had identified more as American because I was ashamed of being Indian.
Why? Because I was picked on in junior high school. Because I went to a systemically White University that turned the other way and encouraged racism. Because I was told I smell. Because my father was told to clean the bathroom even though he was hired as an elevator operator. Because it was the right job for him. Because Indian men are identified with being sexist towards women.
But I was done. Done being what people wanted me to be. I was and still am put into all of these categories. Indian. American. Short. Man. Eastern Culture. Analytical (reads as non-people oriented). It occurred to me that people put you into all these categories because they are afraid of someone different, unconventional. Because society likes to set norms on how you should behave. But I didn't want to ask the question of who I should be anymore. I wanted to figure out who I was.
Who I Am. I am outspoken but soft. I voice my opinions and enjoy being vulnerable. I enjoy being emotional even if I have heard that it makes me less of a man. I enjoy being Indian even though the cultural aspects of being Indian was initially grouped in with my traumatic childhood stemming from my relationship with my parents. Now, I know that they can be separate. I am proud to be Indian. I am proud of my food and heritage. But, I will not be passive as Eastern culture has dictated I should be. I will not listen to corporate rules when they embody a modern form of slavery and oppression.
2) Why did you start Nirvana Works?
Quitting for a Beginning. Once I realized who I was and what I valued, I wanted to just be myself. No more doing anything I did not want to do. No matter the income. So I quit my job in the middle of a pandemic. That's right. Quit. Of my own volition. Left secure income to start something from scratch.
Quit when Society Said No. I had all of my friends tell me to build something on the side while working. I had people discourage me every day. I had my father discourage me. He asked me what people might think and how they'd be embarrassed.
Turning Down Compensation and Title. I was given an offer to be the CFO of multiple public companies. I turned it down. A huge paycheck potentially leading to a career of Millions $x,xxx,xxx for $0 in my hand.
The Beginning. I realized that being myself wasn't just an act of millennial rebellion. But being authentic in this way made me happy. I chose happiness over fame. I would like to help you find your happiness, your beginning. That's why I started this firm.
3) Why did you call it Nirvana Works?
Yoga isn't just for White People. I like many other Indians am outraged that white people have co-opted my culture to fit their narrative. But this article isn't about anger. And I wrote this line for the white people. It's about truth. The truth is Yoga originated in Northern India from more than 5,000 year ago. The truth is many Indians and individuals within the South Asian diaspora and anyone who white people thought looked alike have been blamed for 9/11. The truth is I have been told to go back home. The truth is I have been asked where I am really from. The truth is I always get randomly searched in the airport.
Terms & Conditions of my Culture. So I decided to reclaim the Yoga business for myself. Yoga and it's associated terms of meditation, enlightenment, and nirvana are not one in the same but they have been grouped together. I am taking one piece of this narrative back, and that's nirvana, that's happiness for myself and my clients.
I realized I have a lot to say. I am writing Part 2 as you read this. Link to part 2 of the article is here and in the comments.