Interviewing Our CoFounder - pt.2

Esha Kode & Sanjana Chekuri

17 January 2021

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S: Can you talk about your confidence levels pre-pageantry and how that has changed as you participated in several pageants, leading you to the title of Miss Teen India Worldwide 2019-2020?

E:  Pre-pageantry I was an insecure and severely self-conscious adolescent. My opinion of myself was always based on the opinions of other people, which is why it was a toxic mentality to have. During pageantry, however, I was forced to be myself onstage and offstage without worrying about what others would think of me. We’d be rehearsing from day to night for nearly 3-4 days, so if I had pretended to be someone else that whole time, I would’ve been mentally drained, frustrated, and beat down. Therefore, after being thrown into the pageant world, I learned to embrace not only myself for who I am, but also to embrace others for who they are. We need to understand that self-confidence can only develop once we acknowledge that we are our biggest critics, and also our biggest cheerleaders. 

S: If you could go back and tell your younger self some lessons you learned over the years as you built up your confidence, what would you share?

E: I love this question! I’d tell my younger self this: No matter how hard you try Esha, you’ll never be the most perfect person in a room. There will always be someone better than you and someone worse than you, so stop trying to be perfect. Having a certain talent or skill does not matter if all we do with that skill is compare ourselves with others. Instead, after recognizing that we have a passion and a particular talent that we want to expand, then we have to work on ourselves and only ourselves. Don’t inhibit yourself from performing to your maximum ability just because you think people are going to judge (people will always judge, no matter what you do!)!!!

S: How does being the confident person you are today shape your perception in life now and the way you approach it?

E: I am far more confident than I was before, however, I still need to gain a bit more self-confidence because I still catch myself reverting to those old mentalities at times. I will say, though, that with this “new” confidence, I am able to take more risks. Before, I never used to take risks and was always very cautious because again, I was afraid of other people’s judgements. Now, I don’t care what others are going to think or say if I do something (as long as I’m not harming someone of course). This sounds blunt, but 2020 made me realize that life is ephemeral and if I keep wasting it by anticipating others’ reactions, I’m not going to leave a happy life behind when my time comes. 

S: *if you don’t mind sharing* What are some of your vulnerabilities as a person and how do you work on them to become a better and more confident version of yourself?

E: Ooooooo, tough question. My biggest vulnerability would probably be with relationships. I love my friends to death, but I struggle to maintain relationships because I’m always afraid that that other person is going to leave. It sounds weird, I know. This mentality leads to unnecessary anxiety and overthinking, but overall, it used to lead to me keeping everything bottled up inside.

Another vulnerability of mine that used to be a huge anxiety provoker was social media. It would take me HOURS to post a picture, not because I didn’t like the picture, but because I thought that OTHERS would not like it. I love that I’m now at the point in my life where I can laugh about that. However, back then social media, specifically instagram, was a huge vulnerability of mine. I worked on this by doing a lot of introspection. Talking to yourself does wonders (even though you may look like a crazy person)! After I understood the reason behind my social media anxiety and why that was not healthy, my mind is more at ease and Instagram is no longer as anxiety-provoking as it used to be. 

S: Who/what are some of your sources of inspiration that helped you become the person you are today?

E: Reading is my biggest source of inspiration. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth because I despised reading before 2020. Now, however, reading has been my biggest source of learning from outstanding individuals like Michelle Obama, Jay Shetty, Stephen Covey, Mel Robbins, etc.

Though it is important to have those “public figure” inspirations, it is equally, if not more, important to find inspiration from those around you. One of my biggest sources of inspiration is one of my aunts. I admire the way she approaches individuals with the kindest, most gentle nature and is always willing to unlearn and relearn. Another inspiration is an uncle of mine, who is the CEO of his company (that he built from scratch) and has other leadership roles with multiple organizations. What I admire about him is the time he gives for his family and even to me, someone who lives in a completely different state. I value his ability to be present and maintain those familial relationships because it shows me that no one is ever too busy to give back to their families. Sanj, even you are one of my inspirations! I admire your ability to care for others in such a profound way. Moreover, you actively seek for knowledge by making those connections with people who can teach you, so I love that you are constantly on that road to self-improvement. All in all, inspiration can be found in anyone and everyone!

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