It takes a lot of courage to follow your passions despite the odds and to achieve success through sheer hard work. The women below have gone the extra mile to follow their passion, sometimes while holding on to a permanent job and sometimes competing in male-dominated fields such as poker and bodybuilding.
Athlete Tapasya Solanki: The youngest bikini athlete
I recently participated in Steadfast Nutrition Presents Sheru Classic March 2020 held in Chandigarh and was the category winner. The prep for the competition was undoubtedly tough for me. I used to wake up at 4 am, prepare my meals and head for my cardio at 5 am. Thereafter, there was college at 7 am followed by CA studies and then my 11 am to 6 pm schedule at work. I got back home so I could get back to my training at 8 pm. My days were all packed.
However, my passion kept me going and I managed to ace my prep and complete my studies on time. All said and done, being a 19-year-old girl comes with challenges around managing work and study while focusing on my bodybuilding competitions. I ignore the daily taunts and discouragement that people with orthodox mind-set throw at me about my sport. In truth, none of it stops me."
Runki Goswami: Marketing head of MNC, singer and composer
Multitasking is considered as a normal trait in a woman’s life, and because everything is a priority for women, we cannot say that either the family or our career is not important. Now add to the list a hobby/passion and balancing it out becomes all trickier.
However, if there is a will, there is a way, and I believe learning to say ‘no’ to a few things without the urge to try to please everyone, but sticking to things that please you, are important. I love my music and it gives me divine pleasure. So if it means to cut down on unnecessary socialising, not watching a movie over a weekend or not cooking a favourite food item for my kids, so be it.
I don’t compromise with my interests especially the ones that help me carve my identity.
Smita: Poker player on Adda52
Being mainly a cash game player on Adda52.com, I spend many hours multi-tabling every day, studying the game and trying to learn new variants of the game. Poker has taught me patience and discipline, not only at the tables but also in life. An added bonus of my profession is that it has brought me the flexibility to choose my working hours, to be my own boss, take as many leaves as I want and get into the grind for as long as I need to. I’d love to see more women playing poker."
Athlete Shruti Kotwal: Indian roller skater
I’m a national-level gold medallist in roller skating but because of the limited opportunities and local politics, I decided to move to ice skating because it is an Olympic sport and is more globally recognised. Sadly, however, athletes find support in India only once they prove their mettle. People do not understand that sportspersons need proper infrastructure to hone their skills. In such a situation, it is difficult for a sportsperson to be motivated, and this reflects on their performance.
That being said gender inequality is prevalent in sports as it is in any other profession. Male counterparts do not treat women athletes well. I experienced it first hand when I started as a roller-skating coach. Local coaches without any credentials would think nothing about treating me badly, someone who had enough experience! That is when I decided to start my own academy."
Nutrition Athlete Dalima Chhibber: Youngest football player
Being able to play football for so many years has been a privilege and a great learning experience. I am what I am today because of the sport. I was 13 when I was selected for the U-14 national team. Some years later, when studying in Class 12, I captained the U-19 national team. When I started my career playing professional football, it was not a well-known sport for girls and there were hardly any women players. But now, girls look forward to playing the game professionally. So too, I believe you have to fight for what you want, work hard and believe in yourself.
Aanchal: Lead Singer at Yatra with Aanchal, an Indie Rock Band
My recent achievement is the TAA Music label on YouTube, an artist-driven music label that is all about original music. I have recently launched it along with other founders. I use folk, earth instruments, which defines the culture of a country or state. I have made nine original songs without any label or investments. I have been able to garner 100K views on my YouTube and have created a niche for myself in the market with the style called ‘folk genre’ in originals. All my originals have earthy instruments such as sarangi, ektara, dhol and table. However, the journey of an independent musician is challenging, leading you through different emotions because sometimes you need to go against your own family. But once you turn your passion into a profession, working really hard day and night, there is no looking back."