December 2018, I got a call from a photographer in Gurgaon, who directed me to his page on Instagram and asked me if I would like to be a part of a photoshoot. I took him seriously, and came out completely mind boggled after having gone through his Instagram page.
I could not understand why he wanted an ordinary woman like me to be a part of his page, but it was more than a privilege.
Yeashu is the man behind “We Can Do Anything You Do” – He is displaying 365 Days of untold success stories of 365 strong women who don’t give up, who fall ordinarily but rise back extraordinarily. Marching up to inspire! Do check out his pages on Instagram and Facebook.
It’s a work that he has painstakingly put together – capturing courage, guts, pain, zest through his black and white frames. We spent sometime talking about his initiative, what was his motive, why was he giving away his time to this cause. Yeashu said, “every woman on this planet has to deal with so much mental and physical pain. The stories I am capturing bring out failures, tears, shame and finally these women have broken away from all this and made a place for themselves – whether we see it or not. I want to create a platform for more women to learn from these women and never give up on their dreams and life”.
It was hard for me to pick up my favorite stories. Here are the extraordinary stories of 5 Women reading about whom has given me goosebumps, heartache, anger and a euphoric feeling of victory! Without further delay:
Sonam Dorma, Tattoo Artist & Fitness Enthusiast
I grew up in a boarding school for Tibetans in Mcloedganj. We Tibetans live as refugees here in India & around the world. I have grown up away from my family. It was a blessing because I set out to do what I love, without being told what I should do.
I’ve practically raised myself since adolescence. I started working at 17 & have donned multiple work hats till now. I decided to be a tattoo artist because I love this art. I wanted to pursue it so my family supported in every way including financially. I took a six month professional course for it & this is exactly what I wanted to do. In my community tattoos are looked down upon specially for women & I am the only Tibetan female tattoo artist that I know of. I am looking forward to see more of us!
It is largely a male dominated field hence it’s a struggle to be taken seriously but I will continue as it makes me happy. Clients share their personal stories, what their tattoos mean to them & why.
My fitness journey of 4.5 years started off after I had hit rock-bottom. Freedom also misguided me to parties, alcohol, substances abuse & toxic abusive relationships. I gained a lot of weight, lost all my confidence & self esteem. I did shed weight & happiness by doing lots of cardio & starvation. What helped me, when I gradually changed myself physically, mentally & spiritually by reading on weight training, guidance from fitness coaches & meditation. I now eat guilt-free & lift as much I can.
Now, I help women who are committed to being healthy & give weight training lessons pro-bono. I engage in conversations around their insecurities, self worth, self love & be an empathetic listener. I know exactly how it feels to start from zero, to be unable to accept what you see in the mirror, to be lonely, to have no one to talk to or ask for help & I know how it feels to step up, take control & be the woman you want to be. Helping them motivates me & in turn I get helped.
I have learnt that if your rebellion has a purpose which you are passionate about, nothing can stop you. You’ll learn that being cast out from some places is the best thing that could happen.
Priyanka Gupta, 33, HR Professional, Theatre Artist, V-Blogger @iwalktalkLife is not easy so stop at nothing!
I was born as a replacement of my parent’s first child who was a son and my father decided not to accept me. My Nani Ma took refuge of me and I was brought up by her till 14 years of age. She was suffering from terminal cancer and left me alone when she passed away. I wanted to live up to her dream of making me an educated, independent woman.
Life changed after I lost her but being a ‘baniya’ girl, I always demanded extra from life. Life taught me to shed expectations, be bold, free-spirited and headstrong. I understood that to live the life I want, I would have to shun my past and become a better version of myself every day.
At 17, I did my first job and there was no looking back. Along with my regular studies and part-time job, I did a modelling assignment, did an anchoring stint, performed in theatre and did many other professional art workshops.
I was the only girl in my entire ‘khaandaan’ (family) who challenged family rules and demanded to continue my post grad studies and move to a different city.
Post MBA, I got married and moved to Gurgaon. I struggled to get a job due to recession but then finally landed in the HR domain and worked hard for 8 years.
I felt the void of motherhood in my life, so my husband and I decided to bear a child. I went through a complex pregnancy but gave birth to a beautiful daughter. History repeated itself, when I still heard comments that I gave birth to a ‘girl child’. I realised even in 21st century we are not yet free from this patriarchal ideology. Hypocrisy has only increased.
I have now toughened up for my daughter and will be her wings, however and whenever she wants to fly.
I am requesting my fellow females who are mothers or moms-to-be – if you have a daughter, feel blessed, privileged and choose her over anything. I am blessed I have mine.
In my journey till now I have also got a lot of support for which I am grateful and there are those who didn’t believe in me then now say that – ‘You are better than a boy.’ Clearly, I won at their game!
Surabhi Singhi, 25, Designer (product), @sur_stars
I met with a car accident just a day after turning 21. Everything I knew had changed in 3 months when I regained my senses.
My brain had undergone trauma, physical and emotional. My entire right side was severely injured and in bandages. I did not fully understand the situation as I was in a constant drugged state, but I had to get better for me, for the ones I loved & the ones who loved me.
Initially the recovery was slow as I lacked understanding due to the brain injury. I began to just accept things without wasting my time, thinking about the past.
My attitude became – “Why me?
was replaced by
Try me!” I kept working on my self, one day at a time.
It was then I came to realize something we take for granted, like a healthy body at birth which itself is a blessing. Each struggle has been an eye-opener.
I was able to re-live my childhood moments when I first started to walk without support.
I could eat on my own.
You can’t imagine the happiness I feel when I can complete a mundane activity all by myself, that you would consider a daily chore.
Be grateful for what you have before it’s taken away.
Healing requires love, of all kinds but primarily, self-love!
Monica Jha, 32 , Model & photographer, @alteregobymonica
Countless failed attempts at being a good girl or a good student forced me to choose escapism.
My childhood revolved around seeking validation. Apparently, I was growing up to be a tomboy. While my girlfriends shared exciting stories of swim classes & the chocolates they received from school seniors, I faked smiles & wondered how fat & ugly my body looked. It never occurred to me that I was more than just my body.
People didn’t care, how their opinions could scar a child’s self-esteem and overall wellbeing for life. By now I had started to reject my own existence. It was not that bad until my imperfect body started to become unbearable to my own eyes. In this process of figuring out how different ‘different’ really was, I also chose the path to self-harm. I covered the only mirror in my room so I didn’t have to confront my reality.
In 2012, I decided to stop calling myself a victim & change my toxic patterns. If I had to break free from this gendered design of my identity, I had to take a stand this time. My individualism definitely was strange for most & I was misunderstood as a rebel but once the journey started to unfold, I started to find many like me, who were different. Not bothering with what people have to say about me is still a struggle.
Today regardless of my age, the colour of my skin, assigned gender or even my nationality, I have decided to only pursue goals that are worthy of my time and attention, even if it means to live as a nomad. It definitely is a struggle trying to nurture floating dreams when feeding reality is scarce and tough but I am tougher than ever before and choose to stick by me no matter what. I still get dropped out of modeling jobs because I do not fit into a clichéd 36-24-36 definition of beauty.
Today the mirror has no covers. I still struggle to see a perfect person in the mirror but I see a person who still believes in love, kindness, the power of my dreams, in the love I should be. I still do not feel perfect but I am complete with my flaws and incomplete journey.
Manisha Mangret, 32, IT professional, Animal Lover
I am an IT professional & I aspire to become a professional life coach. I am an ardent animal lover & dream to open an animal shelter.
Life hasn’t been easy till I changed my attitude to learn and grow through the challenges.
I was 14 when I had an accident. I had fallen and went blind temporarily. I remember holding my sister & crying. I was taken to a local clinic first then Army hospital (My father is a retd army personnel)
After 3 months in the hospital, doctors were still unsure about my condition. I remember holding my doctor’s hand tightly & begging him to kill me because I wasn’t able to bear the pain any more. He got me operated the next morning. I was then diagnosed with Tuberculosis in my small intestines; a rare medical condition 19years ago. I was in ICU on ventilator for 2 and half days post my first surgery that lasted 7 hours.
My weight had gone down to 16kgs, which was so less that the doctors couldn’t stich up my stomach post surgery, as there was no skin to hold. The same year I had 15 surgeries & it took me 1 year and 9 months to come out from the ICU.
While I was fighting for my life and my parents & sisters were fighting with their schedule to take care of me. Also, there were societal pressures – “OMG now what will you do, she might not get married.” At first, I use to feel bad about my situation but now I have realised I am a stronger because of what I went through.
The possibility to get married becomes a question when a girl has gone through such body altering procedures, even though with zero fault of her own. But I have learnt to move on from such conversations with a sweet smile.
I love to challenge stereotypes – such as getting bald; my personality is not because of my hair, colour, caste or creed but what I am within.
We talk about gender equality but I strongly believe that other than physical differences between male & female, gender is more driven by societal norms.
I am fearless & ready for whatever life brings to me, because I know I am a winner. Be grateful of the life you have, make conscious efforts to do better and make it beautiful.