“From a small town just outside of Greater London, I’m the eldest of two girls born to parents who are first generation immigrants from India. Genetically, it was always going to be difficult for me to rival the tallest girl in my class so I just did the little bits I could (such as hang off door frames) to make myself believe I was contributing to my growth. But there wasn’t a whole load I could do about my height so I decided it was better to accept it and own it! The only person who never noticed how small I was, was my A level Chemistry teacher. He said it was because I had a much larger personality than my 5 foot self (in a good way). You may not be able to control or change your physical body, but you can change your mental outlook and control your emotions. Focus on making the things you see as negatives into positives – its all about perceptions. I have learned to use my height to my advantage, such as weaving my way in and out of a crowd super easily.”
Chapter 1: Growing up
From a small town just outside of Greater London, I’m the eldest of two girls born to parents who are first generation immigrants from India. Growing up our Indian culture was very inherent in our day-to-day life, which included a strong focus on education. My sister knew from day one that she wanted to become a lawyer. I was always more undecided. I would not say I found the career that I have today, but that it found me. I went through a long process of elimination through my teenage years to try and craft myself a career path. Focusing on my natural strengths and the subjects I enjoyed in school, I don’t think there are many careers I did not consider, even if it was just for a brief moment. I think the one thing I was pretty set on was that I didn’t want to become an accountant…
After starting university in London as an economics undergraduate, the focus was heavily skewed towards careers in banking. I realised early on that banking wasn’t for me – the work/life balance and competitive pressure didn’t work for me. I slowly come to the realisation that while accountancy didn’t feel like the career I was looking for, it certainly did tick a lot of the boxes of what I did want to have in my career.
So. I set about looking for internships. I vividly remember Googling ‘what is audit’ just to be sure that it was what I thought it was. I read the definition and thought, ‘Nah, sounds boring. I know what tax is, let me apply for tax’. My dad is an accountant. He couldn’t have been happier that I was considering to follow in his footsteps. He was the one who urged me to consider Grant Thornton as a firm. He felt the Big 4 would be too impersonal and I would have a more wholesome experience at a firm like Grant Thornton. I remember filling out the application form for the internship; when I look back, I was so blazingly flippant.
'There wasn’t a whole load I could do about my height so I decided to accept it and own it! I learned to be confident with my height – like wearing really expensive pretty high heels or always standing next to my mother in pictures (who is surprisingly shorter than me).'
Chapter 2: Nothing small about these goals
I’ve lived all my life with people marvelling at how I appear to be half a person/a small human (or they are humouring me for it). Genetically, it was always going to be difficult for me to rival the tallest girl in my class so I just did the little bits I could (such as hang off door frames) to make myself believe that I was contributing to my growth. But there wasn’t a whole load I could do about my height so I decided it was better to accept it and own it! Over time I learned ways to be confident with my height – like wearing really expensive pretty high heels or always standing next to my mother in pictures (who is surprisingly shorter than me).
I think one thing that stayed with me was, when I was very young, some of the tallest girls in my year group used to boast about how tall they were. As the years went by, these girls went from being the tallest girls in the year to some of the shortest as other girls had their own growth spurts and overtook them. I think that just made me realise that height is one of those things you can’t change, its pre-determined and there are bigger things (no pun intended) to worry about in life.
I never feel that my height has got in the way of what I wanted to do in life – except for reaching the top shelf in the kitchen. I eventually got really good at balancing on our kitchen stools, climbing up onto the work surfaces and jumping down after. Nimble as cat!
I’m a goals-orientated person and I like to plan things out. I’m not overly possessive if the plans don’t work out how I imagine, but I like to have some sort of thought process in mind. Having a plan, my goals set out for me, and a sense that I’m progressing towards fulfilling those goals, makes me feel motivated. Naturally, this varies on a daily basis. In a wider sense, I want to make the people close to me proud and happy. If I feel that the people around me are happy and, better yet, happy because of me, I feel extremely fulfilled and motivated.
Chapter 3: Negatives to positives
I think my honesty and my ability to care make me unique. You can always count on me to be honest and tell you something how it is. But I also consider myself to have a lot of compassion for people. I will go to significant lengths to make the person in front of me comfortable. Even if it’s a situation that doesn’t work for me, or even makes me uncomfortable, you can count on me to be there to support and work things through. My parents, sister and husband are the most important people in my life. Because everyone needs a support network and I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for them.
Ambitions wise, I just want to strive to do the best that I can in everything I do. My overarching ambition is to live a wholesome, happy life. When I look back on things 40 years from now, I want to feel like I really lived. I want to feel like I did well in my career. I want to have raised a family and have many happy memories with them. I want to have a map to show all the places I have travelled. Most of all, I want to feel proud for working through the lows that life throws at you; I would like to feel strong, confident, experienced and positive.
I think that everyone has their own insecurities. It's important for people to process their insecurities and make peace with them. You are who you are and no one can make you feel less of a person unless you allow them to. You may not be able to control or change your physical body, but you can change your mental outlook and control your emotions. Focus on making the things you see as negatives into positives - its all about perceptions.
In the end, everyone is unique and we should celebrate those things. Everyone is beautiful in their own way.