Life is and can never be predictable. More often than not, it never turns out the way we want it to. It has a knack of throwing curveballs, challenges when we least expect it to. But it is not what life does to us that is important; it is what we do to life that is. How do we counter the challenges, the curveballs is what distinguishes someone who is an achiever from someone who is not. There are many ways of dealing with the challenges. One could indulge in self-pity, curse one’s stars or try and make the best of what one has got, like making lemonade out of the lemons. The call is ours; the choice is ours. But once the call has been taken there should be no room for any regret or a ‘what if’. We have to live with the choices and find our happiness. Ruchi Sharma’s life is a case in point. Her journey can give us a lot of food for thought and show a path that can lead to happiness and absolutely no regrets.
Ruchi was in her mid-twenties, pretty much leading a life that she had always wanted to. It involved working, earning, travelling and being her own person. It was a life that she loved. But it didn’t last for too long. Life changed, things changed, and she had to make a choice. A choice between leading a life that she had been leading so far or giving it all up and becoming a homemaker with a life dedicated to her child and family. A difficult choice, indeed! It meant giving up on her independence, her freedom and her financial security. It was a tough call, but she decided to take it, she chose an option and has never regretted it. So instead of leading a life where the focus was only on her, she opted for one where the focus shifted to her child, to her family. She put a hold to her own ambitions and aspirations and decided to look at life through her son’s eyes. She made his world her world and has never looked back. She feels that there shouldn’t be any regrets in life. Once a decision has been taken, there should be no looking back as it was made after weighing all the pros and cons. Therefore live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment. That’s the motto of Ruchi’s life.
Ruchi was born in Chandigarh to a father who was in the Army and a mother who was a teacher in a school in Panchkula. The couple has three children, two daughters and a son. Ruchi’s brother is her twin. The twins and their elder sister are fourteen years apart in age. She grew up to be the proverbial ‘Army Brat’, outgoing, outspoken and full of beans. As a child, there was nothing that she didn’t want to try her hands-on and wasn’t the kinds who would let any situation deter her. And with parents who were always supportive and encouraging it was easy for her to be adventurous, outgoing and forthright.
Ruchi studied in Chandigarh and after completing her graduation decided to pursue her MBA. She had always been an ambitious girl who wanted to build a career and become an independent person.
Apart from having parents who were always supportive, her elder sister too was a huge source of inspiration for her. The sister was a super ambitious person and being with her ensured that the seed of ambition found its way into Ruchi and embedded itself in her. Because of the age gap, the sister was more like a mother than a sister to Ruchi and till date continues to guide her and be there for her. Her sister is now a General Manager with HSIDC. Thus having seen a mother who balanced her family life with her work life and a sister who also wanted to build a career of her own Ruchi was inspired to do the same.
And so it was a natural progression for her to start working after finishing her MBA. She began her corporate life by starting work with HDFC bank from where she moved to ICICI Prudential Life Insurance to take up a bigger role. This was the time when she was at her independent best; she was earning her money, travelling, living on her own and becoming more and more responsible at work. There was this feeling of freedom and liberation. Now it wasn’t that she had grown up in a restrictive environment or anything like that, but this was a life where she was entirely on her own, in charge of her life which was a big high for her. Her next stint was with AIG Life where she was offered an even more significant role.
Where her professional life was going great guns, changes were also taking place in her personal life. When she moved to ICICI Prudential, she met Gaurav, who was destined to be her husband. He was the Branch head over there. They met, and the working together meant that they had to interact with each other quite a bit. The association and the interaction resulted in the two of them deciding to get married.
Shortly after getting married, the couple had to move to Ahmedabad. Though it was a new city, life wasn’t too difficult. The two of them were in love; they understood each other, and the fact that they both had similar jobs helped to cement the relationship. They could relate to each other’s work issues and time constraints and so never had a reason to complain. They made it a point to spend as much time with each other as possible and took frequent breaks and holidays.
The jobs were demanding, but because there was a good understanding between the two, they could strike a balance between their jobs and their relationship. But then they had to move to Mumbai as they had decided to change their jobs. The city with its fast-paced life was quite a contrast to Ahmedabad and the life there. The distances made the going tough for the couple and left them with not much time for each other. And then in the midst of all this, Ruchi discovered that she was pregnant.
The couple was ecstatic, but Ruchi’s mind was in turmoil. Though she was looking forward to the impending motherhood, she was aware of the practical part of it too. Since theirs was a nuclear family, she understood that their life and in particular her life was on the verge of undergoing a significant transformation. The way forward would lead to many adjustments and sacrifices, and one of the biggest ones would be in terms of her career. And thus the dilemma which every working mother faces at some point or the other presented itself to Ruchi Sharma as well. She had to decide. Should she carry on working, leaving the child in other people’s care, or should she quit? If she continued to work, she would be able to have her independence, her security but then what would happen to the child. What about his security, his upbringing? The mother in Ruchi chose to put her life on hold and ensure that her child got all the love, affection and security that he deserved. Though the decision was difficult and had far-reaching consequences, Ruchi has never regretted it. The switch from being a financially independent woman following a strict routine and being deeply involved in her career to someone who now had none of these wasn’t easy. Every morning now was about her child, her husband and not about her at all. It was a huge change, a big challenge, but she decided to take it head-on. She had decided to quit, and that was how it was going to be. Her little bundle of joy made her decide that from then onwards she was going to focus on him and him alone and make sure that he excelled in whatever he wished to do. She and her husband had decided that raising a child who is balanced and is a good human being is the greatest task and so she focused on that with an ample amount of support from Gaurav.
Thus from measuring her highs and lows in terms of her professional achievements, she moved to a life where personal highs and lows became more critical. They brought all the joy in her life. Her world was now all about Aarya, reading stories, playing Lego, doing artwork, going cycling and running with him and also trying out new dishes as he was a fussy eater. It was a complete transformation.
And then came the time for another change. The Sharmas had to move to Gurgaon, to a new city, a new way of life. Ruchi was all set to build her life in a new city. She took to it like a duck takes to water. She made good friends, the family was also close by, and so the transition was smooth. In the meanwhile, Aarya joined school and though Ruchi was relatively free after he did that she decided to put the free time to good use. She felt that she should use her time in discovering her son’s strengths and likings and then on focusing on helping him develop those. As a step in that direction, she took to volunteering in his school so that she could be close to his environment and thereby relate to him in a better way.
All his life Gaurav had had a regret which was that though he had always wanted to, he could never be a good swimmer. And so he desired to see his son ace it. Ruchi also felt that swimming was something which would be good for Arya’s long term development. It would instil a sense of discipline in him, develop his physical strength and of course add to his skillset and therefore the couple decided to put Aarya into swimming. They were clear that it wasn’t going to be just a hobby for him to pass his time. They wanted him to get proper coaching for it, and thus Aarya at the age of seven got into formal coaching for swimming. And maybe it was because he got introduced to it at a young age or it was the routine of the activity or simply that he just loved the water, the fact is that the little boy took to swimming and was willing to put in hard work to learn it. The training was rigorous, the routine was taxing, but he carried on. And the parents, in particular, the mother left no stone unturned to ensure that his training went the way it should. And till today swimming is an integral part of Aarya’s life. The mother, thanks to her army background, instilled discipline in her child at a young age. So if Aarya had to wake up at the crack of dawn to go for a coaching session, there was no relenting.
Mind you, the swimming session was followed by a full day at school. But the mother also sacrificed her sleep, her free time to be with the child. Ruchi accompanied him and sat by the poolside while the son got coached. She never gave way to any temptation to miss a class. Even if it meant driving long distances to take him for a class or making sure that he could swim in a heated pool during winters Ruchi made sure it happened. She had always been a go-getter, and with the change in her life goals, she ensured that she got everything needed for her son’s success. From a young age, she made sure that he knew what his priorities were. So if a swimming lesson meant no playing in the park with other kids, no junk food and sleeping on time, then he did it. On his part in spite of a hectic work schedule, Gaurav managed to be a hands-on father who would always have time for his son. And if the parents encouraged the child, his coach Ashish made sure that he provided him with the right kind of guidance and direction.
All the hard work paid off, and the child attained success. From being in the school team to winning his first district meet, then to being number one in the state and then to the nationals the boy hasn’t looked back. And mind you he is all of 13!! And not lagging in academics he is all set to become a marine biologist.
What Ruchi’s life brings out is how a mother can put her life on hold to make sure that her child gets the life that he deserves. And by spending most of her time with him, she not only became close to him but helped him discover things about himself and the world.
But being a fabulous mom did not mean that Ruchi let herself go. She kept discovering and reinventing herself along the way. When Aarya joined school whatever little time, she had she decided to utilize it by learning to play tennis. So not only did she learn a new game, but it enabled her to spend time with Gaurav who loved the game. And being the perfectionist that she is, she aced the game. She went on to be the best in the women’s and mixed doubles categories at the DLF Golf Club for four years in a row. A great way to inspire your child!! Be the best in what you do!! And from there she moved on to learn how to play golf.
As though her sporting achievements were not enough, she decided to try her hand at painting. And yes, as expected, she learnt, and she conquered!! So now not only the walls of her house but those of some of her friends also are adorned by her works of art. Incredible indeed!! And now the woman wants to get into farming!!And all along she continued to be deeply involved in his school. Now that Aarya has hit the teens, she is open to step out and work for a few more hours with an NGO or anything else. She loves connecting with people which has been one of the main reasons for her and her son’s success. Life has been happy, life has been good, but ultimately it is the way you look at life that makes all the difference. The glass is half empty or half full, your call. Ruchi had sacrificed a lot to make sure that her son’s progress in life is not affected; he doesn’t get derailed. So even if that meant staying back in Gurgaon with her husband moving countries, she chose to do that. Living alone was and is never easy, but the woman is gutsy. Who would get themselves admitted into a hospital to get a surgery done without telling anyone?? Well, Ruchi would!!
So life has not been easy, there have been challenges, and times when choices had to be made. Ruchi made those choices and made them because she wanted to. There wasn’t any compulsion whatsoever. Life has dished out lemons by the dozens. But Ruchi Sharma has made bottles of some very refreshing lemonade out of those lemons!!!