There’s a meditation that I perform often — one that allows me to visualize the future that I want for myself.
It involves picturing a stool — a beautiful golden stool, intricately detailed, placed in the centre of the room I can picture clearly. On the stool, I picture a future version of me, of what I want, of who I am.
And then, I take it away.
In stark contrast to my vision of my future, I instead picture a banana. (Yes, a banana.) And I see that banana. The details. The curve. The little black spots on it signalling it’s just perfect to eat, and the sticker from the grocery store that was never taken off.
A moment later, I whisk the banana away and bring back the image of what I want.
And suddenly, my future is clear.
I can see it, the same way I could see that banana.
So why do I bring this up?
Because seeing is believing. Because the narratives we tell ourselves, consciously and subconsciously, inform where we go and what we become in life. Because perceiving something as reality makes it achievable, places it in front of us, there for the taking.
And this is why representation is truly important.
Growing up in the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area (hello Mississauga!) meant that I saw a lot of South Asian folks around me — but it shaped two distinct narratives of what it meant to be a South Asian woman.
The first was the worldview based on my reality up until I was 10 years old. For the first 10 years of my life, my sister and I grew up with my parents and no other family around, in a tiny two-bedroom rental apartment, adjacent to community housing.
I didn’t see South Asian women on TV. Not on the news, not in mainstream Hollywood movies, not in any of the public channels (that was also all we could afford on our satellite programming). Even my childhood morning yoga practice with my Mom involved following along with white yoga instructors leading us through our ancestral practice.
Where I did see South Asian women was during the conversations my mom would have with the other mothers in the park, or at community events — who, just like us, spent 10 years, maybe more, living in the same rental apartments. They were often homemakers and nurturers while their husbands worked; they were the aunties who I would be a little too shy around. If they worked, they were working-class — holding jobs at the local Timmies, grocery stores, or factories.
Simultaneously, there was my mom, who reminded me often that being at home with us taught her more than her degree in architecture ever did, but that didn’t take away her education. And while we knew that, she was constantly having to validate her education to her peers and the neighbourhood aunties — because she was always a housewife, who worked for her husband, lest she forgets that.
Then, there was the second worldview that began to form at age 10. After 14 years of struggling as immigrants in this country, my parents bought their first home well into their late 30s and 40s.
At 10, I realized I didn’t have the words to understand we were moving into a new socio-economic class, but I felt it. They had purchased a small, two-bedroom townhouse on the other end of Mississauga, bordering Brampton. There was no community housing close by — just the suburbs and the McDonalds in the plaza next door that would later become my first job.
And while this provided a new worldview with more possibilities than the one that was shaped for me in my formative years, it still wasn’t enough.
Even in a neighbourhood that granted a new socio-economic class, the wider perception of South Asian women that infiltrated my worldview was a monolith — each fulfilling the same role. We were mothers, home keepers, and immigrants, and maybe — just maybe — doctors and lawyers… until we got married. We were raised to be independent for just one purpose so that we could be attractive partners, ones that neatly fit into heteronormative expectations. We didn’t exist in the media, in the world of entrepreneurship, as CEOs or 6 & 7 figure breadwinners.
And to be honest, sometimes, a banana still seems more realistic than the idea that I could be any of these things.
In 2019, after 4 years of running my business, I hit over $100 000 in sales.
That was more than double my household family income as a child.
And $90K more than what I made in 2018.
Granted — finally having access to capital meant more than 60% of that went right back into re-investing in gear and equipment to finally make bigger projects and goals possible.
It meant slowly working on paying back loans and visa cards that had accrued due to limited capital.
It meant cash flow for the first time — because I never had access to business loans or big lenders before this.
And it meant saving 20% of that to pay for taxes.
So I share this to show you what I didn’t have — a visual representation of what is possible.
I tell my 9-year-old niece and 11 & 13-year-old nephews about these numbers now. That being a 6-figure entrepreneur can look like their Kutti-mami.
The numbers themselves don’t mean much to me beyond the possibilities — because it’s not about the flashy launches or the dollar amounts in the bank that all the coaches in the industry seem to focus so hard on.
Instead, it’s given me a new vision of the person I can be. The new generation that I can lead. And a new measure of what is possible.
And one day I won’t have to picture a banana.
I can just picture myself.
And that will be enough.