coffee date #11 with janaki patel
owner of an RBF, Bollywood star ;), hype woman, thrift store shopper, weight lifter, powerful manifester
me: iced vanilla cold brew coffee | janaki: iced chai tea latte
location: starbucks, new jersey
Janaki Patel is a wide eyed, tall, and an ethereal looking human. I don’t remember how we actually started talking because I was deadly scared of her during our first few encounters. Similar to coffee date #7, Janaki is also the owner of an amazing RBF – hence why I was immediately intimidated.
I remember during an Arya recital, Janaki was absolutely slayying onstage. She was a dancing gazelle and her expressions were out of this world.
Here’s evidence of what a queen Janaki Patel is onstage as she performs alongside VARUN DHAWAN ya’ll!!! FYI, she’s the sexy girl in red, rejecting Varun Dhawan’s love proposal (smh Janaki, only you would reject that proposal 😂)
We somehow started talking and all of my radical impressions of her immediately dissipated. Janaki and I were so similar. We both were scared shitless of the other seniors in our troupe, constantly worried about other people’s perceptions of us, and didn’t have much self-confidence. We were always our biggest criticizers and would nitpick the details that sometimes even our instructors didn’t give a rat’s ass about.
Janaki was one of the few people at dance that I could really be whoever the hell I wanted to be. She made me feel comfortable and protected. What was beautiful about our date today was seeing how much we both used 2020 to introspect and discover a newer meaning to life.
- This is how you get to the driver’s seat of your life.
“Get to the driver’s seat of your life,” they say. But they never tell us how exactly we can get there. Janaki Patel shared with me exactly what she did to turn her life around in 2020.
In late 2019, she noticed that absolutely nothing was going right in her life – from friendships, family, physical health, and even her mental health. She was not in control of her life. She was the passenger. Therefore, Janaki treated 2020 as her hibernation year. She wanted to use the year to completely imbibe herself in the process of introspection and reach that driver’s seat.
The secret to getting to the driver’s seat of your life is…..*drumroll please*…….to make lists!
Janaki’s coping mechanism in life is to make lists. It’s a visual aid that constantly reminds her of what her goals are and how she’s going to get there.
The beautiful thing about Janaki’s process was that it was all happening without her flaunting it to the world.
“This was a silent process. I didn’t post on Instagram or anywhere on social media because I wanted it to be real.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
She literally divided her life up into categories that she felt she needed to improve in.
- Physical Health
- Mental Health
- Relationships – Friendships
- Personal Style
- Life Goals
The motivation behind her list was a quote that she heard that went something like this: “You don’t have to transform your life in one sitting – just keep adding one more good thing.”
Once she made the list, Janaki realized that the easiest one to tackle out of the 5 was her Physical Health. The one thing that she had immediate control over was getting herself to a gym and working out. Through fitness, she was also able to better her mental health. Getting to the gym helped her check off 2/5 of the things on her list.
The next part of the list was her friendships. We both shared the commonality that we struggle with maintaining long-lasting and deep friendships.
“I was just so scared of being vulnerable. I now push myself to be more open because I know that they’re vulnerable with me, so I owe it to them to make sure I’m vulnerable with them.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
Being vulnerable with someone feels like a compilation of all of your insecurities are staring right back into your face, which is why it is so frightening for a lot of us. Janaki used the alone time she had during quarantine to do a ton of reflection on how to be more welcoming of opening our heart out to someone. Reading numerous books taught her about the art of vulnerability.
Being scared of being perceived is one of the main reasons why many of us hold back when it comes to relationships.
“I am going to live my life showing up as me because ‘me’ is okay. You need to start loving everything that makes you ‘you’ – whether you’re too loud or too much ‘this’ or too much ‘that.’ You’re not ‘too much.’ You’re just ‘you.'” – Janaki Patel, 2021
I am about to frame this quote and plaster it on every wall of my house.
As she kept adding actions and going through the list, Janaki found that her life just started to evolve. She re-discovered herself amidst all the clutter and noise. And she is freaking SLAYYING in life at the moment. I just witnessed it peeps.
- Doing things alone is uncomfortable.
As we were talking, I realized that I don’t do many things alone. For majority of my day, I am surrounded by my family and do things with them – whether it be eating, shopping, working.
This is interesting because my anxiety tends to peak when I am required to do something alone, so it’s probably because I am so primed to constantly having the energy of others around me for every task that causes the anxiety.
Janaki had the same revelation. It was uncomfortable for her to do things alone as well, so she started small.
“I started going to the mall alone. I bought groceries alone. I would get coffee alone and I even went to the movies alone once. You’ll eventually just start loving being with yourself.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
- Skinny shaming ruined our self-body image.
Janaki and I had a very similar self body image growing up. We both hated the way we looked. I often would actively try to cover up my legs to prevent more of the “Your legs look like toothpicks” comments. It was degrading and made me feel extremely uncomfortable in my own skin.
“I hated my body because of it. Majority of it came from my relatives, who’d call me a ‘stick’ and tell me to eat more bread and butter.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
Shaming anyone for their body type is NOT OKAY! It doesn’t matter what you look like, and the ‘shamers’ just really have to get over it and be more respectful of the people around them. It’s 2021. There’s no such thing as an ideal body type.
Sadly, the haters are never going to disappear. As a result, Janaki and I used 2020 to change the way we saw ourselves instead of trying to control the opinions of incompetent people. 1) Working out has helped us feel stronger, both mentally and physically. 2) We also just don’t care anymore because there are bigger things happening in the world for us to be worried about and put our energy into.
- Childhood incidents impact us in ways that we don’t event predict.
I WAS SHOCKED! Within all the years we’ve known each other, I didn’t think that Janaki and I had such a similar experience growing up. I mentioned this before, but many parents (whether consciously or unconsciously) dismiss their child’s feelings. This can be because they think that children don’t have problems, or they themselves were never allowed to express their emotions, or they’re just so impatient and caught up with work that they don’t take time to become emotionally available for their children.
“I saw that a lot of my incapabilities to be vulnerable came from my childhood.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
Either way, these actions force a child to repress their feelings to a point where it translates into their future. They will no longer be able to open up in the same way that they used to when they were little because they’re automatically primed to repress, repress, repress.
- You can have MULTIPLE professions!
NO ONE EVER TELLS US THIS!
When we’re younger, we’re often told that we can “be anything that you want to be.” However, no one tells us that “you can be AS MANY things as you want to be.” At least I don’t think I was.
My goal was to always become a surgeon. That was the only real profession I could be a part of. All of my other interests fall under the “hobbies” category. But why can’t we be in multiple professions without having to pick one and leaving the rest as casual hobbies?
Many people are entrepreneurs, philanthropists, models, actors/actresses, doctors, directors, etc. all in one! Isn’t that the real beauty of life? How can we condense everything that life offers to fit into one profession? Life is so vast and complex, giving us the freedom to be AS MANY things as we want to be.
This came up in our conversation because Janaki and I were both talking about the various projects and goals we had in mind. We realized that if we force ourselves to fit into one career path, then we’ll never fulfill all the things that we want to fulfill in life. Instead, we need to be open to the idea of putting our foot into as many fields as we want to be a part of.
- Fitness should be empowering – not degrading.
Now that I got more into fitness, I definitely see both my physical appearance and mental health drastically changing. However, with the benefits of fitness comes some disadvantages.
One of them being the fact that I sometimes become way too nitpicky about the way I look or the fact that I skipped a day of training or I ate too much junk food for a day. This extra harshness makes me feel like shit for a week, so I asked Janaki if she feels the same way now that she is also a fitness queen and if so, how she copes with it.
“I make myself treat myself.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
Natacha Océane talks a lot about intuitive eating and how you should just give your body unconditional permission to eat whatever it wants in that moment because you’re hungry and craving something. It’s the idea of eliminating the toxic diet culture and giving your body what it needs when it needs it. This is basically what Janaki said she does. She doesn’t vigorously restrict what she’s consuming.
“I usually eat whatever it is that I want.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
Fitness should not become a barrier between your mind and body. It should be an empowering journey where you feel yourself becoming more emotionally connected with your mind and body.
- What we can learn from toxic relationships.
The craziest thing Janaki shared about her past relationships was that she was always with people who were confident and secure individuals on the outside, but really just as insecure as she used to be on the inside.
“I would look for someone who was everything that I wasn’t. Now, I use that as a map to become everything that I wanted.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
The fact that she was even able to recognize that pattern was inspiring. Relationships are no longer something that she yearns to be in because she has been actively trying to develop the characteristics that she was attracted to in the first place – whether that be unwavering confidence or the ability to trust her own gut.
- Let your feelings guide you.
Similar to coffee date #10, Janaki also started off as a pre-med in undergrad. Later on, she realized that medicine was not for her.
“Go towards what gets you riled up and makes you want to discover something more. You’re going to be successful either way.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
“Never ever let prestige, money, or fame dictate what you want to do.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
- Journaling is a long and reflective process.
I’ve known about the benefits of journaling for ages now, but there’s something about sitting down and making time to write in your diary everyday that makes it so hard to maintain.
Hence, why I invested in the Five Minute Journal. I’m coming up on the 6 month mark soon and I love it! It’s quick and effective (at least I think).
I realized that journaling is not much help in the moment. It’s more useful when you occasionally go back and read your entries. You realize that slowly, with the energy of the Universe, you have been progressing to become your truest, most authentic self. It’s a slow and steady process that you will often overlook if you don’t take the time to go back and reflect.
I was SO happy to hear that gratitude practice was helpful for Janaki because I was afraid that it wasn’t really working for me.
“Gratitude is my default emotion now.” – Janaki Patel, 2021
HOW BEAUTIFUL! Our default emotions were always feelings of insecurity, so to come to the point where we have transformed those feelings to gratitude makes my heart feel so warm.