Sonakshi, life as an investment banker and her quarter life crisis
"As I grew up, I realized, you need to take care of yourself first."
Is there a smell that reminds you of your childhood?
Indian food always reminds me of my mom cooking because Indian food has a very aromatic and intense smell. So whatever I'm in an Indian restaurant, I get a hit of “Oh, this is growing up in my mom's kitchen.”
________________________________________________________________What about your personality or your passions connects you most with the Well + Kind community?
I think what connects me most from a personality standpoint is a commitment toself-improvement. I've always felt that you have to have a balance of being happy where you are and aspiring towards more.
I think the reason behind that is because when you feel like the best version of yourself, that's when you can be the most helpful to the people you love.
So I think at the end of the day, all of life is really – how can you have an impact on the people you love or on the world? The best way to do that is when you feel a hundred percent unstoppable. It sounds really cheesy, but you know when you’re on a flight, and they're like, “please adjust your own breathing mask before you adjust somebody else's.” I used to think that was a selfish way of thinking that. But as I grew up, I realized, you need to take care of yourself first. Be self-aware of, what are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? How can I get better at those so I can be my best self in all the roles that matter to me: being a good community member, a good daughter, a good friend, a good sister. Then I'm actually able to provide a positive impact.
What feelings arise for you when you go onto social media?
I have a marketing background. So a lot of my feelings are very positive. I find it to be an extremely wonderful way to stay connected with the people that you love. I find it to be something that really encourages communication and is a really beautiful way to see more of people's personalities and what's going on in their life.
I think that said, there is this darker kind of empty feeling sometimes that happens. I think it’s a little like living in New York city. New York is a place where you can really have the feeling of being high, right? Like if you're having like a great day, it can feel like you’re starring in your own romantic comedy. Like, you're going to fall in love with Noah Centineo, you're going to go start a business, you're going to start the next Facebook. You’re unstoppable. And then other times when you feel low, it's not like, “Oh, you just had a bad day.” It's like, “I'm in this incredible city where everything is happening for everyone and except for me.” And social media gives you that kind of feeling because it's the highlight reel of someone's life.
When I was in business school, my Instagram had never looked more enviable. From an objective standpoint it's “Oh my God, like she’s traveling so much, she’s learning so much, she’s meeting all these cool people.” When really, there were times when I was really upset, having the imposter syndrome and the frustrations of like, “I'm having my quarter-life crisis. What do I do with my life? I've been given this amazing opportunity and I'm not making the most of it. Am I picking the right job? Maybe I just took a nap instead of going to hear that CEO speak -- was that wrong?” You don't see any of that, though.
So I think primarily I look at social media as this great tool of connection. And yet while the vision is beautiful, the execution has so many issues that fundamentally underscores some of those really core human emotions of loneliness and lack of achieving your full potential.
What is your favorite sense?
I think it's between sight and taste because I'm very much a foodie. I think food can take you anywhere. But then sight – it's such a beautiful world and I’m lucky to be able to see it.
________________________________________________________________Is there a piece of art, (a movie, album, or photograph) that was particularly formative for you growing up?
Maya Angelou’s poem “Still, I rise” was very important to me. As a kid, there was something about resilience and grit as a concept that really spoke to me.
What space, ritual, or practice feeds you most?
I would say two things. I used to work in skincare and haircare. So skincare is something that is very relaxing to me. I view the 10 minutes that I take to embark on my 10 step Korean skincare routine, very important to me.
The other ritual that defined the pandemic period most for me from a personal development standpoint is working out. I have never, ever been a workout person at all. If I was running my body would be like: we’re being chased, because that is the only reason that I would ever be moving.
But then I started running during quarantine. I don't know what possessed me to do it. I just started and it just became more and more intensive until I was running like five miles, which I had never done. I ended up buying Peloton and getting heavily into working out, which before I viewed as painful and anxiety inducing. I find it now to be something that I correlate with stress relief.
I'm an investment banker and for the first time in my life, I work 21 hours a day. Getting 30 minutes to go and crush a spin class is 30 minutes that I took out of my day just for me.
What is something that is not inherently sexual, but you find arousing – like hot laundry or an empty inbox?
Bourbon and leather jackets. I don't even like bourbon – I'm a scotch person, but there's something about someone who's drinking bourbon that is dark and mysterious, and then I can go after him for not drinking scotch.
Is there any negative emotion that you've learned to harness for growth?
Yes – anger. I think inherently, we tend to think anger is not productive and I agree. I think what anger tends to do is put you in a form of paralysis – where you're kind of blinded and you're not seeing what your fault might be, or how to move forward. But it wasn't honestly until I noticed that I would get stressed a lot at the time and I would want to cry. And I have always been a big believer of like – never let them see you cry.
Yes, it's important to cry, but don't let them see it. And I started getting really insecure about the fact that I was so upset, especially in a job where, because of the hours, there's no hiding. I got this very frustrated feeling of why am I crying when all the men around me aren’t? And I know that they're stressed, so, you know, what's wrong with me?
And then as I started paying more and more attention, I realized, Oh my God, they're just kind of angry all the time. I saw that it translated into perhaps, rudeness or shortness, while I believe that women go through this internally – getting really upset or crying.
And the irony is that we (women) are considered weak when their form of anger is just being a Dick to other people! It's like, okay so because you're having a bad day now we all have to have a bad day? But I'm the weak one because I am taking my negative emotion and just concentrating it onto myself?
I’ve learned to take that anger and harness it into determination. I keep telling myself, my pain is my power and my debt is my determination. So every time I get angry, I have this feeling of what can I do to make this go away? And I know that if I am blinded or if I stay in paralysis, I give them, (the proverbial them) all the ammunition to be exactly how they expect me to be. So since I can't focus on what my peers or my coworkers or my superiors think of me, I now take that anger and I try and use it as a motivation for what steps actually need to be taken.
________________________________________________________________What’s the best advice you've ever received from a loved one?
The best advice I've ever received was from my dad. It’s Maya Angelou's advice. I actually have it on my wall. “I've learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” My dad told me that as a kid. I had just moved to New York and it was right after 9/11. I experienced a lot of bullying. My dad was trying to explain people's fear and prejudice to me in a way that was not just being angry or being sad, but actually understanding why people were feeling this way. So he gave me that piece of advice and my mom has like, truly lived that advice her whole life. And so growing up with a mom who always focused on making sure you left feeling heard and you left with a positive feeling, I think I have really internalized it as is it's the way that you treat people in the, that they feel after an interaction with you.
What music are you listening to these days?
I've been listening to, “I'll be seeing you” by Billy holiday. But other than that, I’ll be honest, there's been a lot of Taylor Swift.