“Fight it out. There’s no other way out. Unless you go through tough times, you never know what you’re capable of” says Deepika Gupta, echoing the mantra that carried her through her own hardships. Born in India, in a male dominated community with few regards for female empowerment, Deepika was constrained by centuries of deep-rooted societal views and unbreakable traditions.
With determination in the face of adversity and betrayal, she defied all expectation to overcome insurmountable odds with only the tenacious belief that she could. Deepika shares how the trials & tribulations of her life have shaped her as a person, and what Dress For Success Vancouver means to her.
Tell me a little bit about your life.
I grew up with a lavish life as a kid but I wasn’t allowed to get an education. This was a trend in my society. Women could get married early and accompany their husbands, but my father wanted me to study. So I did my masters in finance, but everyone in my family was upset. I grew up in a very conservative family where no one supported my dreams. Neither my mother or brothers supported me, only my father was very supportive of me. Every dream I had he wanted it to become a reality.
How did your father shape you as a person?
My father constantly talked about what life should be like, how a person should be, how your behaviours impact society. The greatest lesson he gave me was “get the treasure of education. You never know when adversity will hit. You never know when life will go wrong. If you ever pay hard times, education pays off. It’s the only thing that people can’t steal.”
What was the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your life?
I got married at 24 to a businessman and continued enjoying a comfortable life. Then my father passed and I lost my lucky charm, nothing went right after that. When my husband’s business collapsed, I was a few months pregnant and homeless. I had grown up in a luxurious life where everything was abundant, it was very hard to cope. I hadn’t worked for years, I was shy now and I fell into depression.
When the baby was born, I didn’t have enough money to pay for medical expenses. I had a different challenge now, I had a kid and had to take care of him. I couldn’t go back to my family for help so I had to take up a job which is unheard of because I grew up in the business class. “People were complaining to my family, saying I was bringing disgrace to my family.”
Soon, I was the single breadwinner for my husband and his family. I wanted to start up a home business to take care of my son. Since my husband’s family helped with the business, I took them into my home because I wanted to stay together. “When you go through a tough spot, it’s easier to face adversity together.”
However, when the business began to flourish, my husband’s family got together and pushed us out of the business. They said “you can move out now.” I felt betrayed, again I was homeless and had a toddler to support.
What was the most challenging part of this?
Holding your own self. Believing in yourself even after every challenge, getting up again and saying “I can do this.” I had no one to turn to, or to tell. It’s difficult when you have to start from scratch, from nothing. It’s so difficult when you have a kid and a family but no one supports you.
How did you get involved with Dress for Success Vancouver?
I was referred twice through Job options and Langara College. Then I joined the Professional Women’s Group (PWG) program.What’s the biggest impact you’ve experienced from Dress for Success Vancouver?
The sense of belonging that comes. Moving overseas is a big thing. When people move to a new community, you need someone to sooth your soul there. It becomes difficult to adjust to new culture. When you’re falling short of funds, you just need a single friendly hand - Dress for Success Vancouver was that.
They pamper you and make you feel great. I never heard of something like that before, where people would take care of your and make you feel loved. “It’s not just clothing or guidance, there’s so many things that they support. You feel loved and cared for and then you start feeling like you belong to society.”
The service leads to raised moral, higher confidence and emotional fulfillment. Dress for Success Vancouver empowered me, they gave me the confidence to follow my dreams.
Meeting people that I would love to connect with. I’ve developed many friendships and I feel like I can connect with so many people because our lives match. It’s difficult to make people understand what you’re trying to express if they’ve never been in your shoes. Everyone at Dress for Success Vancouver and PWG just understands our situation. With PWG, i’m building a community, friends and family.
The first time I shared my story with PWG I was afraid that no one would understand it. But when I finally expressed myself and they understood, I could finally relax.
Where are you now?
I’m working as an administrative assistant at an engineering company.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I feel like it’s high time now to start my dreams and get my business started. I want to work for female wellness and contribute to society. That’s my mandate. When you get mental wellness, it boosts emotional wellness too.
Can you impart some lessons or advice?
In life, you should be revengeful towards your adversities by being successful. Let the adversities know that you can face them, say “I am going to prove you wrong.” Life is never easy, it’s always tough. Never look for the easiest thing to do. Females are strong and need to explore it. We are made to explore those strengths through hard times.
How are you and your family now?
My entire family is proud of me and supports my endeavours. This means a lot because they didn’t even want me to go to school. My eldest brother said he is so proud of me because I proved that I am more than capable.
Any last words?
I look forward to my future. I stepped out of the past, I’m not carrying that burden anymore. It’s like I stepped out of a cocoon or something. When I finally expressed myself and people understood, it was like a new life and a new me.
A truly inspirational woman who is living proof that adversity creates a stronger person. The entire Dress For Success Vancouver network wishes Deepika nothing but the best of luck moving into the next chapter of her life!
whoooohoooo...i am so damn proud of u sweetheart .... !!ReplyDelete
muah ... muah ... muah .... muah ....!!
No money....? Who paid for your immigration to Canada? A good story though. Most women in India are financially independent, highly educated. Male domination? 19th century?ReplyDelete