Anshumali Singh often heard people say that a woman’s main priority is running a family and pursuing a career is secondary. She, however, questioned this belief and wondered why a woman couldn’t have both a successful career and a happy family life.
Growing up, Singh was always a high achiever who charted a path of dreams for herself. However, her world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with lymph node disease during her first year in college. After multiple surgeries, crushed dreams, and a determination to put her life back together, she decided to pursue engineering, work in MNCs, embrace motherhood, and build an even bigger yet challenging ambition – go back to college and study MBA.
In an interview with SheThePeople, Anshumali Singh recalls her challenges fighting a disease, how she never gave up on ambition, her experience of motherhood, and how going back to college now is turning out for her.
Anshumali Singh Interview
How did you surpass challenges with your lymph node diagnosis?
In the face of a difficult medical diagnosis, I refused to let it deter me from pursuing my studies. I held onto the belief that there is always a solution to every problem, and my unwavering determination was buoyed by my mother’s unwavering support. Fortunately, my college administration was also understanding and allowed my mother to stay with me in my hostel for a few weeks after my surgery to aid in my recovery.
Throughout the process, I remained focused on maintaining a positive outlook and educating myself about my condition and the available treatment options. Seeking help and guidance from my loved ones and healthcare professionals was invaluable in navigating this challenging time.
Despite illness, second attempts and life’s obstacles, you sailed through. What were your biggest learnings?
From my perspective, success is rarely achieved without hard work and perseverance. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes when it comes to achieving one’s goals – it requires consistent effort and dedication over time. It is essential to remain flexible and adaptable in the face of adversity. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan, and unexpected obstacles can arise. Being willing to pivot and adjust plans can help one stay on track and continue progressing towards their goals.
Good health is one of the primary factors that women must look after and choose for themselves. What is your say on this considering you’ve been on the darker side of ill health?
While I have always been health-conscious and have made a consistent effort to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine, I have still faced numerous significant health challenges. As a woman, I believe it is essential for all women to prioritise their health, as they often serve as the linchpin of their families’ well-being. This became especially apparent to me after becoming a mother. If you neglect your health in favour of other responsibilities, it can negatively impact your overall success. Therefore, it is crucial to take care of yourself and make your health a top priority.
As a woman, I believe it is essential for all women to prioritise their health, as they often serve as the linchpin of their families’ well-being. This became especially apparent to me after becoming a mother.
Mothers are often told that motherhood takes sacrifice and that their life and goals are secondary. However, women are proving that everything they take up and everything they choose can be equally important too. How did you navigate this?
Growing up, I was fortunate to have a strong mother who worked tirelessly to balance her career and responsibilities at home. I saw firsthand how women often have to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities, and sometimes even have to give up their careers for their families. However, times are changing, and families are becoming more supportive of women pursuing their careers while also fulfilling their family obligations.
We now understand that running a family and raising children is a shared responsibility, and being financially independent is crucial for women’s confidence and personal growth. With the help of supportive families, women can balance their career aspirations and family responsibilities, leading to fulfilling and successful lives. My mother, who instilled in me the value of education and independence, supported me throughout my journey. Even when I became pregnant, she never wavered in her support and was ready to accompany me to campus to care for my newborn so that I could focus on my studies.
If there’s one factor that impacted your growth, what would you say it is?
My growth has been impacted by my determination. Coming from a small town, there are often societal expectations that suggest giving up and staying at home when facing health issues or pregnancy. However, I stood my ground and exhibited resilience to pursue my goals. Despite concerns from others about managing a small child and classes simultaneously, my determination and the unwavering support of my mother allowed me to overcome these challenges and succeed in my endeavours.
How has motherhood been life-changing for you?
Motherhood has been a life-changing experience for me, teaching me valuable lessons along the way. It has helped me become more empathetic, caring, and selfless, with the added joy of unconditional love from my child. I have evolved as a person, learning the virtues of patience and preparedness to tackle any challenge that comes my way. Going through the journey of motherhood has given me the confidence that if I can manage to balance myself and my child during challenging times, I can overcome any obstacle in my life.
What are the key factors driving you as a mother?
As a mother, my key driving factors are to be a role model for my child, to provide a good life for them, and to take responsibility for raising a happy and healthy individual. A supportive family can go a long way, especially for a woman in India considering the age-old patriarchal set-up women are bound with.
I concur wholeheartedly with the statement. In India, women are frequently pressured to conform to traditional gender roles and prioritise their domestic responsibilities over their career aspirations. However, a supportive family can serve as a catalyst for breaking these societal norms and empowering women to pursue their goals.
During my IIM interview, I was three months pregnant and struggling with morning sickness and pregnancy discomforts. Despite the challenges, I was determined to give my best. With the support of my partner and unborn child, I cleared the interview and got accepted into IIMA.
I have been fortunate to have a supportive family who never succumbed to societal pressures. Families need to understand the significance of gender equality and encourage their daughters, wives, and mothers to achieve their aspirations.
How is it so far at the IIM A Campus?
Despite my busy schedule, I feel a deep sense of fulfilment as I immerse myself in this new environment and learn something new every day. The teaching style in this college is refreshingly different from what I’ve experienced before, and the challenges it presents are equally exciting. I am thrilled to embrace this phase of my life, which is helping me grow and adapt in ways that I never thought possible.
There are a few more mothers like you who have returned to pursue their significant education. What do you have to say about the courage of mothers owning it all personally and professionally?
I offer my sincere admiration and respect to all the mothers for their unbreakable love, selflessness, and unwavering commitment to their families and children. I also commend all the mothers who prioritise their careers while managing their family responsibilities with equal fervour.
What is your advice to those women who wish to restart their careers and go back to pursuing education?
With my experience, I can encourage every woman to start anew, no matter their age or circumstances. Your strength and resilience are powerful tools to achieve your goals. It all begins with recognising your talent and working hard towards it. With determination and perseverance, you will undoubtedly succeed.
Remember, you are unstoppable in your pursuit of success.
Suggested reading: Ambika Nautiyal: How This Navy Officer And Mom Is Back On College Campus