Hey There! Though we do not know each other but probably by the end, you will know a little about me. I hope this inspires someone sitting out there, in a cosy corner, confused about the choices to make in life.
I am Sheenu Diwan, a woman with a strong vision in life, a vision to live all my heart’s desires. I believe that anything is possible if you put an honest effort, continuously, with patience and perseverance. Let’s begin from the beginning. Back in 2017, I realised that I am missing out on a lot of things in life. I, being an introvert & shy girl, who had never stepped out of her house without someone, suddenly wished to fly. I hail from Ludhiana, a city in Punjab. Right from my childhood, I had been a very protected kid. For quite many years, I was happy in my comfort zone, dependent for the smallest of my needs on people around me. From the very beginning of my childhood, I had a very keen interest in art. The bright colours used to fascinate me. More than the toys, I had huge collections of colours and other art supplies. I always had this desire to become a renowned artist. But life had a different plan. Being a very bright student, like any other Indian family my family also wanted me to become a doctor or engineer, but that was something I never wanted to do.
A literal negotiation happened between me and my family. They wanted me to opt medical and I wished to go for arts, thus a decision was taken mutually and I opted commerce with Art as an additional subject. Everything was going fine until I got a reality check that “who am I without people around me?”, “I am capable of doing anything, literally any smallest of things without them?”
That’s when I decided to move out of my comfort zone and shift to some other
city for my post-graduation. This was another task in itself. Can you imagine, someone who never stepped out of her house without her parents, all of sudden put forward a demand of moving to a new city and living alone for the next two years?
It was a sought of mini heart attack for my parents. When I told them about this for the very first time, they thought that I was kidding, there was nothing serious about this. But when they realised that I was serious, there was a moment of strange silence between us. I felt that I was being rebellious.
From my parents to my cousins to everyone else who was related to me in one way or another, tried to convince me to change my decision. But as I wrote in the very beginning, anything and everything is possible if you put an honest effort, continuously, with patience and perseverance. Eventually, after 2 months of repeated efforts, my parents agreed for me to move to Chandigarh for my postgraduate studies.
Eventually, everything started to fall in place. I started enjoying my own company. I started going out for buying the art supplies, and that’s when I realised that it’s fun to explore a city all alone, after-all you don’t need to share food with anyone ? For me, it was an achievement in itself. Can you imagine the feeling of a bird who made its first flight? It was exactly the similar feeling I was experiencing. I started going out to movies, shopping etc. and I was enjoying every bit of it. And then, there was no looking back.
A year passed and I was happy with my life. All I wanted was a friend, just one friend in the city. And that’s when I met Sakshi. She was my junior in college and rented another room in the apartment I was living in. I met her and within a few months, we became the best of the best friends. Everything was sorted now. On one fine day, I and Sakshi were sitting in a cafe, having a regular chit chatI told her about my desire to do art workshops
and that’s when she told me about this community called Stay On Skill (SOS), a community of travelling artists who used to get sponsored vacation to exotic locations in exchange for conducting the workshops at the location where the artist is travelling.
I without thinking much dropped them a text on Instagram and shared my interest in conducting the art workshops, but I was not ready to travel, that too solo. I still remember Arjun, the person on the other side of the call, trying to convince me to travel and I kept on insisting him to conduct the same in Chandigarh itself.
Finally, we agreed upon travelling to Delhi, the nearest location from Chandigarh. It was April 2019, I went to Delhi for the first time. Solo? Naaa, Sakshi accompanied me. My first ever experience of living in a backpacker hostel, conducting workshops, meeting new people, talking to them and that was the first time when I made so many friends in just three days. I came back as an altogether different person, someone
who was more confident and somewhere proud of herself. It was one of the best experiences of my life and then I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to live those moments again and again. I started travelling on skill with SOS to various locations like Amritsar, Dharamkot, Manali etc. for doing art workshops. The experience cannot be described in words. I was living my dreams.
But, a good time is always followed by a hard time. Everything happened during the last semester of my M.com. I never realised that it was almost the end of my semester and I was supposed to move back to Ludhiana after my final exams.
But that was something which was never acceptable to me. I never wanted to chop my wings just when I learned to fly. I had the constant pressure of clearing the UGC-NET exam as well, for which I took admission in a coaching centre. The duration of the coaching was 4 months but I went to the class for only 26 days. I was not enjoying that and I never felt that it was something I was meant to do. The semester exams were scheduled in
May and the NET exam was scheduled for June. I told my parents that I had my coaching in the month of June, which was not the case and for the complete month of June, I explored art for full time. I collaborated with some architects and made paintings for them, showcased my paintings in the World Art Festival organised by Plapp and took a lot of freelancing projects. Throughout this time, I kept on looking for a job for myself in Chandigarh without telling my family about this.
Oops, I forgot to mention that my mom and dad visited Panchkula for my art exhibition and somewhere they were proud of me.
Somehow, after giving the NET exam for which I never prepared, I convinced them to stay for one more month in Chandigarh. I kept on looking for a job for myself, did a literal job hunt, went from one office to another for the job search, did another workshop in Chandigarh and somehow managed to fund my expenses by myself.
Trust me, such an amazing feeling it was. For the first time, I was feeling completely independent. The Manali trip was scheduled by the end of July. By that time, I accepted the fact that I had to move back to Ludhiana since I couldn’t find a job for myself in Chandigarh. Plus I cleared the UGC NET exam as well and everyone wanted me to opt for the job of an assistant professor in some good college. I thought Manali trip was my last solo trip, once I am back to Ludhiana, all the efforts I had put to make my life a better one would go waste and I will become the same Sheenu who was dependent for the smallest of her things on people around her. I came back from Manali on 29th of July’2019 and my Dad was supposed to take me back to Ludhiana on 1st of August. Sitting in my balcony, with tears in my eyes, unhappy and agitated, there was a buzz in my phone. It was a very random chat happening in the Manali Trip Whatsapp group where everyone was expressing their sadness about coming back from mountains to the city life, sitting in front of the laptops and doing the monotonous jobs.
Arjun, the founder of SOS shared a picture of SOS office in Chandigarh and said that it’s a beautiful place to work at. For some unknown reason, I replied to that picture and wrote“Unemployed logo ki kami nahi hai Chandigarh mainand left the chat. Within the next 1 hour, I got a call from Arjun and he said, let’s meet Sheenu, we have a vacancy in SOS. I went to meet him, totally unprepared, without carrying any of my certificates and resume with me. I told him everything about me very honestly.
The job that was offered to me had a lot to do with talking to people and I being an introverted person, I had zero confidence in me for doing such a job. I asked for a day’s time from him and travelled to Ludhiana the very next morning, told my parents about the same, lied about my salary (told them an additional 5k) and somehow convinced them. Trust me, those were the most difficult five hours of my life, I was crying, my parents were crying, they were agitated but I don’t know how they got convinced and I moved back to Chandigarh. But this was not the end of the hardships. My room was rented by someone else from the 1st of August and now I was basically homeless. I searched for a new house for 2 days, didn’t like any of them.
Finally, I told my landlord, ”I am not going anywhere. Now it’s your responsibility how you are going to accommodate me”. Then what, I managed to have room back. Taurians are stubborn, and I proved that :p Everything was almost sorted, I had a job, I had my house and I had people who were there to support me.
I performed really well at my job, my boss was very happy with my work and within 10 days of joining, I got an increment in my salary for 5k, and now my salary was exactly what I had told to my family.
Though my family was not so happy with my decisions then, but now everything is sorted. They are very happy with what I am doing. Everything is going pretty well in life.
I am giving time to my passion, managing my Artist cum traveller profile (Sheenu_Diwan) on my Instagram, getting acknowledged for my work, pretty happy with my job, doing art workshops on a regular basis- both online and offline, I have my students from across the world. Life is good!
Recently, I conducted an online art workshop for the government of India (CAG department) through SOS. That is one of my biggest achievements to date.
So trust the timing of life, believe in yourself, trust your decisions, and trust the ultimate power guiding you in life. It’s very important to take a stand for yourself. I read it somewhere that his plans are always bigger than yours and trust me, I have experienced that in my life. All I want you to know is you are enough for yourself, get up and grab what you think is yours. Do not let the days slide on by and start valuing every single one for the gift it is.
This is Sheenu Diwan, signing off.