What’s your why?
Before today, have you ever really asked yourself that? Most people haven’t, and I’ll bet you haven’t either.
Yet, the key to life lies within that question.
If you just knew in your heart your own answer to that question, staying motivated and driven on your own would be so much easier.
But that’s just the problem, isn’t it?
Nearly no one knows their answer to that question. Nearly no one has ever even thought to ask themselves that question. And so the entire world stays stuck in the same rut, utterly unable to get out.
What is this? You don’t believe me? How could such a tiny question have such an enormous impact on your life? Well, don’t fret my friend, I’ve got an explanation. And here’s what it is.
Why a Three Word Question Can Drastically Improve Your Life
If you’ve ever been suicidal or depressed, then you know just how it feels to just want to give up and release yourself from all the stress and pain of your life.
You know just how bad it can get and you know just what my mom, Pratima Aravabhoomi, founder of Craft Street Design, felt not too long ago before she decided to start her business.
We’ve all been there, and we know that there is nothing worse than that dark, dark place full of sorrow and misery. We know just how hopeless you can get when nothing seems to be going right and you’ve got yourself questioning just why you bother to continue with your life.
And we know it’s beyond difficult to pull yourself out of such a deep depression where all you can see is that dark place you never wanted to be in to begin with.
That’s understandable, but, in times of despair, what you really need to know and hold onto with every last bit of your might is your answer to this one simple question, “What’s your why?”
Why have you held on all these years?
Is it because you’ve got a dream you’ve always wanted to realize?
Is it because you couldn’t bear to leave your loved ones behind?
Or is it just because you’ve still managed to hold on to the hope that things will get better if you just work a little harder?
Whatever your case may be, all you really need is to hold onto that “why” with all of your heart.
Because with your “why” and only your “why” in mind, you no longer have to feel like a hopeless failure. You know your “why” and you know exactly what it is you’re working so hard towards. And through everything, you know that no matter what, this “why” is the most important thing to you and you will live for it.
Don’t believe me? Just ask my mom, Pratima.
She somehow managed to turn her life from a place where she felt trapped in a horrendous marriage, one where nothing seemed to be worth it anymore, and into one where she could be happy starting her own business selling beautiful inspirational quote prints through Craft Street Design. Insane right? Here’s how.
From College to Marriage in a Heartbeat
My mom’s story starts about 15 years ago when she had just gotten married to my now estranged dad and her ex-husband.
She had been 21 at the time and she didn’t really want to marry anyone. However, her parents had arranged the marriage because they thought it would be the perfect opportunity to curb their unruly daughter’s behavior. And not wanting to upset them, she went along with it.
It was a marriage to an Indian man living in America, far from her home country of India.
And after a huge Indian wedding (sorry no elephants or Bollywood dances), she moved across the world from India to America to quickly find that this husband of hers wasn’t at all what she had thought in her naïve 21 year-old brain he would be like.
Despite the fact that her parents had arranged her marriage thinking that her husband would be the perfect match for her, he was far from a decent match, let alone a perfect one.
The two had absolutely nothing in common–the 8 year age gap didn’t help things–and shared none of the same ideas about what a good marriage should be like.
His idea of a proper marriage was one where the woman’s only purpose in life was to just cook, clean, and be a “good Indian wife”, taking care of everyone and everything but herself as the husband goes out to earn their money day in and day out. To him it didn’t matter whether the two ever actually loved each other.
In fact, all that really mattered to him was keeping up good appearances to all the family friends and relatives. He wanted to have a wife that was completely and utterly dedicated and obedient to her husband.
And as long as they were married under the same roof with a certificate to prove it, he believed that the two must do everything to make this “proper” marriage continue.
The Darkest Hour Is Before Dawn
His ideal of a perfect wife and a good marriage wasn’t anywhere near what my mom wanted. And so, the two never did get along well.
The marriage only dragged on because my mom didn’t want to fight, so would bite her tongue as much as possible and let my dad do as he pleased, whether or not she actually felt it was right. But, even so, soon, she decided she wanted to go back to school to study design.
She was able to continue her schooling even when she got pregnant with me. But since it had already been nearly impossible to keep up with all of her school work and her role of being a “good wife”, with a baby on the way, things only managed to get much worse.
My mom, took a short break to have me, and the next thing she knew, she’d become prisoner to what felt like more of a jail than a marriage.
My dad showed himself to be jealous, over-controlling, and completely unwilling to pull any weight in the marriage, demanding that she do exactly as he say with no complaints.
There were many incidents before, during, and after her pregnancy that my mom found herself having to try hard to forgive to honor their marriage.
With every argument things just seemed to explode and there were multiple incidents that really tested my mom’s strength to keep going.
There were things like the time her husband left her stranded on the highway in the middle of the night with no shoes and no way of getting back home.
There was the time he locked her out of the house, 6 months pregnant, because of some petty argument.
And there was even the time he abused her simply for not color coding the towel closet to his exact liking.
Somehow, in spite of all that, my mom kept holding on and continued going to school, even when he absolutely refused to have any part in watching me, I was just a toddler, for even a few hours when my mom needed to work on finishing her degree.
Unfortunately not even the most steel hearted of people can endure such hardship for too long. And so things gradually began to spiral out of hand for my mom.
My dad made it a point to make each and every day of her life a living hell and gave her everything she would never want in a marriage. She’d gone on like this for so long, but with school and a baby daughter to care for on top of everything else, my mom found herself feeling miserable and like she’d be unable to continue on with life for much longer.
Before that point, she said that many times throughout her long and strenuous marriage to my dad, my mom had looked at the quote on her wall, “The Darkest Hour Is Before Dawn”.
It had given her the hope and strength to continue all those years, and so in many ways had been her lifeline, those six little words.
However, that hope she’d held for so long was fading fast for her and things were so bad one day, that after she put me to bed, she walked into the kitchen clutching a bottle of bleach tightly in her hand as she decided that it was time to just end her life.
Every day of her life was filled with sadness and anger and she wholeheartedly believed that there was no way things could ever get better.
And so, she stood there, about to drink the bleach and end it all.
But just as she was about to down the bleach, those six words came flashing back to her. “The darkest hour is before dawn.” And the fighter in her awakened.
It had been ten long years that she’d just bowed her head in submission and borne everything her husband had ever put her through. And she decided in that moment that it was time she would stop lying down for it and letting him get his way at the cost of her happiness.
That incident where my mom found herself so terrifyingly close to suicide really made her think and it proved to change her life forever. She realized that all those years, she’d never actually asked herself the most important question, “What’s your why?”
Why was it worth it to stick through her marriage for so long?
Why did she choose to live in the moment where she could have killed herself?
And just what was left for her?
At the Break of Dawn
The answers were clear to her and so she did exactly what she knew she should have done years ago.
She quit her marriage.
She changed her life.
The divorce was more than stressful and the battle for custody over me, her five-year old daughter at the time, was long and painful. But through it all, even having to settle for thousands of dollars in debt and none of her husband’s money to support herself and her child, my mom survived.
Yeah, she had to work two jobs and manage multiple side businesses just to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. And yeah, it was never easy in the least.
But she survived with no one, not even one of her former “friends” helping her.
She survived because of that beautiful quote soaring in at exactly the right time and her three word question, “What’s your why?” Those three words really did change her life.
A bit after turning her life around, my mom, Pratima, realized that if just these few simple words could change her life so much that she went from nearly dead to more than alive with just their help, than those words could help anyone.
And so her small hobby of collecting inspirational quotes to help her get through the worst of days gradually grew into a passion for helping others with the power of words through her company Craft Street Design.
What’s Your Why?
Today, Pratima is happily married with a teenage daughter and a joy filled life. She says that if it weren’t for those six simple words and that one little question, “What’s your why?” she probably wouldn’t be alive to tell the tale.
And that’s just the thing, I think that if my mother, an ordinary woman raised in the South of India by two parents who tried their best but just couldn’t understand her, was able to find the strength to drag herself out of a horrible marriage almost broke and completely in debt and raise her five-year old daughter with nothing but pure determination, you, dear reader, and I, can get out of whatever terrible things life throws our way.
No one ever said things would be easy.
That’s just not how life works.
And we all know that somewhere in our hearts. But that doesn’t mean you should just give up when things get tough, because cliché as it is, the saying holds true, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
And so, if you’ll take anything from that long story of my mom’s, it should be this: Within everyone there is a strong-willed, undefeatable person trapped behind whatever walls of fear we’ve put up inside our minds.
So when things get hard and you begin to struggle, you can either give up and run, or let that fighter within you out.
And when you know your “why”, when you know just what it is that keeps you alive despite all the hardships you have to face, that fighter fights just that much harder for your “why”.
So through whatever life throws at you, just ask yourself one simple question, “What’s my why?” and persevere through it all. I just know you can.
What is your why? How have you been able to put up with all the crap life’s thrown your way? I do wonder what it is and I’d really love for you to let me know down in the comments below!