At BHAV, we believe in empowering women to find unique ways to embrace their cultural heritage. We started 'The Culture Connection' to explore the impact (both good and bad) of heritage on a variety of incredible women, and understand how it continues to play an influential role in their lives. We invite you to join us on this journey, with the hope that you find value in these conversations.
Neha is a former advertiser turned career coach, who has built her successful business dubbed 'Somewhere in Between' (IG: @somewhereinbetweencoach). When she's not working on her business, Neha loves exploring new fitness studios and coffee shops, as well as practicing mindfulness (journaling, meditation, yoga, etc.). Read on to learn about Neha's heritage, her multicultural marriage, and how she got into career coaching.
On Her South Asian Heritage & Multicultural Marriage:
What's your background?
I'm a first-generation Indian American in a multicultural marriage with an Irish Italian man.
How has, or currently does your heritage play a role in your life?
My heritage has played an interesting role in my life. I think of myself as a cultural platypus (let me explain!). To quote National Geographic, a platypus is "best described as a hodgepodge of more familiar species: the duck, beaver, and otter.” That concept of being a hodgepodge of things is something I’ve always related to, especially culturally:
- I’m a first-gen Indian American - straddling the world I’ve grown up in with my heritage
- A child of dual religion parenting - experiencing two faiths as my foundation
- A wife in an multicultural marriage - fusing two cultures to create one incredible family
I call that feeling being "Somewhere In Between”. Growing up, I found that feeling difficult, especially in a society that loves fitting our identities into singular boxes. I often felt misunderstood and not belonging to any cultural group, but as I grew up, I realized most of us have felt that at some point in our lives. More often than not, when we’re in an undefined “in between” place, we're labeled as confused, in crisis, or merely an outsider.
I wanted to change that stigma because we’re all multifaceted human beings and there is nothing more beautiful than being "Somewhere in Between". One of the things I love about the concept is the inherent power of choice and open-mindedness that comes with it. From a cultural standpoint, embracing the “in-between” means you keep an open mind to all cultural beliefs, but that you have the power of choice to choose which elements of culture serve you vs. those you choose to release.
For me, that’s looked like:
- My Indian American "Somewhere In Between": Embracing the American values of independence, equality, and opportunity while preserving the Indian values of generosity, nonviolence, and harmony.
- My Religious "Somewhere In Between": I have adopted elements of both the Hindu and Christian religions to create my own spiritual beliefs. I believe there’s a lot to learn from all religions.
- My Multicultural "Somewhere In Between": My husband and I get the pleasure of celebrating both of our cultural backgrounds through values, holidays, cuisines, and traditions and travel. Both of us have learned so much from each other’s cultures.
Can you speak on your experience being in a multicultural marriage?
I think multicultural individuals and couples are great examples for humankind. Multiculturalism shows us how we can come together in compassion to not only understand and embrace our differences, but also to realize our similarities.
However, getting to that point isn’t always easy. It takes compassion, effort, understanding, compromise and oftentimes some very uncomfortable conversations. But like I previously mentioned, our marriage has given us some incredible experiences together that without a doubt outweigh the hardships.
I’m also grateful for the impact our multicultural marriage has had on our families. We have been extremely fortunate to have families that have supported our multicultural union - a gift I know not all multicultural couples are given. It’s been such a pleasure to see how lovingly each side has embraced the other culture and how much they have learned from one another.
Was there a specific moment when you decided you wanted to pursue career coaching?
The moment I decided I wanted to become a coach was a result of a lot of hardship and over a year worth of research on how to design a career and life you love (this all came after burnout in my advertising career). You can read more about the details of that journey on my blog:
- Part 1: My burnout
- Part 2: Realizing I wasn't the only one who wanted a change
- Part 3: I cracked the code on how to design a career and life you love
What's your go-to cocktail, spirit or drink?
A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or an Old Fashioned.
What are you currently watching?
'Little Fires Everywhere'.
Name of the best book you've read in a while?
'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho is my favorite book of all time.
Morning person or night owl?
I used to always be a night owl, but recently I’m loving mornings thanks to my mindful morning routine. It’s a game changer!
What's 1 small thing you couldn't give up (daily ritual, accessory/personal item, etc.)?
Streaming music, coffee and my gratitude journaling daily ritual.