• Akhila Balasubramaniam

Women who inspire me

Updated: Jul 31

A room full of people, this one person walks in and makes all heads turn.

Strong and inspiring women can never go unnoticed. I have developed a radar for them by being surrounded by women like my mother and grandmother early on in my life.


Irrespective of the field and career, I am drawn to the women leaders there. On international women’s day, I came across a YouTube video by Aileen Xu, which was dedicated to the women who inspire her. That made me want to know about the women who inspire the women I look up to. (Tell it once again in your head if you didn’t get that)


Whether I found any is beside the point. But this gave me a reason to make a dedication to the ladies who give me the licence to have larger than life dreams. These are ladies who have done simple things, bizarre things, exhibited courage, vulnerability, and realness.


Lilly Singh


She is the Bawse lady who built her YouTube career from scratch, now an author of a book and a late-night host. Lilly to me is the personification of the statement “manifest your dreams.”.


As I read her book “How to be a bawse” I laughed, smiled and cried along with her. I experienced the same withdrawal after finishing the book as I did after Harry Potter or the F.R.I.E.N.D.S series. She lives by example in what she preaches. She has encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone to learn, grow, and allow myself to be a beginner in anything I start.


In her motivational videos and her book she explains what she calls the “Hustler’s FOMO”. It is the fear of missing out on achievements. Now, that’s the FOMO we all need in our lives.


Urmila Sathyanarayanan

Sometimes I need to pinch myself to wrap my head around the fact that she is indeed my dance teacher, and I got to spend such a large portion of my childhood being mentored by her. She is one of the inspiring ladies whom I’ve watched up close. Her performances and classes are food for the soul. “Urmila Miss” as I know her is far more than a graceful and expressive dancer.


She is an entrepreneur who built her academy for the arts, a devoted teacher and even today, a fervent student of the arts. Her talent is undisputed, but the empire that she has built today is a result of her relentless work ethic and focused hard work. When the early signs of haughtiness creep into my mind, her sincerity and beginner-like enthusiasm humbles me and puts me in place. The things that inspire me about her surpass superficial achievements and transcends to spiritual development, which is so golden, that it could be a topic by itself.


Elizabeth Gilbert

Liz Gilbert gave me the permission slip to start. In her book, “Big Magic,” she urges us to permit ourselves to get started on our endeavours. Our grand plans feel pleasant until we need to materialise them.


It seems terrifying to get started, sometimes the inertia to begin has intelligence that outsmarts us. When that happens, let her words of wisdom remind you that “A plan executed imperfectly now is better than a plan executed meticulously never”. I can in no way summarise the impact this book has had on me in a paragraph. Off all the incredible ladies I’ve mentioned, if there is one work I would recommend to anyone at all, it is Big Magic.


Sadia Badiei

Whenever I am overwhelmed with negativity, I tune into Sadia’s videos. I came across one of her videos in 2017 and I wasn’t familiar with veganism then. Though I was aware of it, I probably dismissed it as an aggressive leftists movement or a cult (Sorry Vegans!). Her take on this was very straightforward and shattered all the prejudice I had. A plant-based nutritionist and dietician who creates enriching and sensible content, she was the first person I came across who espoused its philosophy for what it is meant to be, kindness.


This kindness is not limited to the animals or the planet or for your health. It extends to all of humanity without harshly judging other people for their choices. Respect and honour others while being true to what you want to do. Moreover, throw the “go big or go home” attitude out the window. In her words, “do what is reasonable to you,” and every bit counts. Let me emphasise that her content is relevant to everyone, not just vegans.


JK Rowling


When I read Harry Potter, it felt as if this was the experience I longed for but went into a stupor and forgot about it until then. It was as if I had numbed the hunger pangs, and when I finally had it, I was devouring it. Creatives have a power that cannot be concretised. Irrespective of the art form, each of us would've been moved by some performance or artwork.


We can’t quite put our finger on it but it finds a special place in our hearts. Joanne Rowling created that for me. To be able to perceive creativity not just as an expression of fun and play, but to be enchanted by it. I channel this form of creativity into my dance. She fuels the artist within me to be imaginative and be lost in that bliss. Joanne is the architect of my wonderland that I so dearly miss and long to go back to, though I have never been there ever.


Adriene Mishler


Have you tried yoga with Adriene? If not, please go and do yourself a favour. You are welcome in advance.


Even though I had been doing yoga on and off for 10 years before I stumbled upon her videos, I did not advance as I had done in dance. I enjoyed it but struggled to maintain consistency. Adriene made me perceive yoga in a way that was never taught to me before. To accept and honour my everyday practice and celebrate where I am today, as opposed to what the pose is supposed to look like. If you are wondering if that’s alright? Yes, it is alright!


Yoga is a gradual process like anything else and with the time you will find your perfect practice. She not just guides you through the practice but teaches you how to teach yourself. Almost always I begin the practice in an “I don’t feel like it today, please go easy on me” state of mind. By the end of it, I am filled with gratitude towards her for pushing me and making me experience bliss.


Mel Robbins


If Mel is genuinely my inspiration, I do not have a choice but to 5-4-3-2-1 and wash the dishes tonight after writing this paragraph. We all have these glorious goals which we set our minds on and plan and talk and think about and on and on. Oh, did you miss the part where you had to do it? Me too 😇


Let me explain what 5-4-3-2-1-ing my way into action means. Whenever you get an instinct to do something, be it study, work, start a new project, work out (the hardest for me), you ever hear your mind starting to convince you not to do it with all possible reasons, some of them even rational? That is when Mel suggests, you count to 5 and physically move within that window. The countdown silences the thoughts and the physical movement alters your state of mind. She affirms that we are a 5-second decision at a time away from the life we want.


Excuses that our minds generate hold us back from actually doing the damn thing. Mel has more than just helped me do the things I want; she has made me believe in myself. That I can indeed do the things I set my mind on. To silence the BS in my head and 5-4-3-2-1 my way into action. Thank you, Mel. You are my superhero.



The successes of these women make me burst with tears of exhilaration. I am proud of them like family or a sisterhood. These women and many more whom I’ve not mentioned offer an abundance of motivation to us to practically do anything. Oftentimes we perceive what we see, and seeing these women enables us to conceive phenomenal ideas. As Napoleon Hill said, “What our minds can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”. I thank the world and share my love with all women; you all make this world a place to be in love with.


P.S. I 5-4-3-2-1-ed my way to wash the dishes. 😎

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