I grew up in a loving household with two parents that only wanted to see me "happy.” My parents’ story is that of two immigrants, brought together by an arranged marriage, who came to the US with nothing but a hope and dream of a better life for my brothers and me.
Although their message to us was “do what makes you happy,” cultural norms and expectations already pre-defined happiness for me. The unspoken path was for me to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer, get married, buy a house, and have children.
I still “defied” the unspoken path by becoming a CPA; the one and only CPA in my family of 27 first generation cousins. There are, however, 13 amazing doctors if you were curious!
My path to becoming a CPA was a series of twists, turns, and a healthy dose of fate. I began college as an Economics and Statistics double major. During my second semester of sophomore year, I realized I was miserable and had no idea what I could do with those two degrees. Instead I pivoted to Accounting on a whim and without much guidance or purpose. From there, things mostly fell into place and in the last 10 years, I have been blessed to interact with some of the most amazing individuals, mentors, and mentees that helped guide me and advocate for me through my career advancement.
When I was twenty-two, my dad, Manmohan Lakhani, passed away. Reflecting on his life, I remember the exact day I told him I got a full-time offer at the largest client service firms. I remember his smile and seeing a theoretical weight lifted off his shoulder. A weight I did not realize was there. His one and only daughter, was going to be successful, even if she did not pick the unspoken path.
The unspoken words of our loved ones and peers are extremely important to understand as they can have the most impact in our lives. It was not until the last few years when I started working with a coach myself that I realized how much “noise” there was preventing me from showing up as my authentic self.
For so many years, I felt that I owed it to someone to stay at my corporate job. But the reality is that I felt alone, anxious, and misunderstood because the life I was living was the life others had in mind for me. I was living their dream, not mine.
My parents, like so many parents, did not have the luxury to reflect and truly find their passion or live their dream. But like most parents, I know the intentions of my parents were and continue to be pure, in that they want me to be happy.
I do not believe my story is unique in the broader sense. We all have noise that interferes with the process of finding our authentic self. However, I do want to empower individuals to embrace the confusion and filter the noise. And most importantly, I want to empower every person to follow their dreams.