Introducing Matoyana Media’s interview with Foodpreneur, Chef, Author, Business Woman and fabulous warrior woman, Yudhika Sujanani.
Hello Yudhika and thank you for your time, tell us a bit about your approach to life?
“Underneath it all, we are all just humans, we are all just people craving the warmth, the love, the affection and care. We want life to be fair and we want to be seen for who we truly are. I think that’s who I am, that’s my essence, that’s my core. So yes – it’s the mom box ticked, ticked the entrepreneurship box, and we tick the fearless and the warrior box. And through it all, I’d like my journey to be known more than the labels that we attach to ourselves. I think society is very keen on sticking labels on us, but actually we need to define the journey and respect it and honour it every day of our lives.”
What is your definition of a modern day warrior woman?
“I think women are generally ‘worriers’ – we worry about everything from a very young age. Worry is like a nagging child, it will take all your energy and your focus and at times we shut everything out and connect constantly with worry. So the real warrior woman is the one who overcomes the ‘worry’, putting it in its little box and becomes the “warrior”. Learning how to master and own worry and it is not just a process you go through during one phase of your life it is through every stage and every day – you are going to have to master the habit of worry and become the warrior and true power lies in what you do to conquer that, what you do in between.”
Why do you identify as a warrior woman?
“I’ve spoken about worry and I began worrying about my future at a very young age. What I have identified when looking back on my life is that whatever life has thrown me – I have overcome it – I’ve survived it. What’s strange is the major turning points in my life have never been at happy moments when life was perfect and I had an option, it was when I had no choice.
But through all of that real darkness that life can sometimes show us is when I’ve been shining most brightly. I think there’s something about women, when they are placed in extreme circumstances, if they can just stop for a minute – block out the noise – and just shine a way through it. Nobody can do that for you. It is something that comes from within.”
What has been your biggest and most important battle?
“I think mastery over my personal life and my emotion, because no matter how hard core you can be in a business, we are all ruled by our emotions. As entrepreneurs, we look for success in our entrepreneurship, but you will never have success in your life unless you master your emotions.
I’ve gone through various things in my life that have of shaped me. And I think there are extreme circumstances that don’t just shape people, but cause what I describe as ‘the mutation’. Because you stop one day and think – hey, I wasn’t this person 10 years ago but now I am – we mutate. Mutation is how super heroes come about – an experiment gone wrong. People being exposed to something that they shouldn’t have been exposed to, and as humans we have been all been exposed to things that we shouldn’t have been exposed to – as children, as teenagers and as adults.
I don’t feel afraid to say I came from a home where there was domestic violence, it plagued our home and there was poverty. At a very young age I was subjected to sexual harassment and to abuse and that’s a circle which will just repeat all the time unless we go through a phase or a process where we master our emotion, learn to say no, and we stop looking outside for people and things to fix us and we start to fix ourselves so we don’t actually invite those things into our lives – it is a long journey.”
What type of warrior woman would you describe yourself as and why?
“Let’s call me the Emotional Crusader because I’m kind of leading the charge and one of the things I’ve come to realise has held me back in my life is that I’ve said to somebody, ‘I’m having a bad day’, and their response is, ‘Don’t feel like that, don’t have a bad day, look at everything you have and what you’ve achieved.’ And I feel that is like a baby rattle being waved in your face to distract you from feeling your own feelings.
So I’ve been encouraging people to just feel the feelings. Even if something happened to you 20 years ago, it is in every cell of your body, where experience lives and will never be forgotten. But here we are, trying to plug the hole by buying a house or a car, excel in our career – all the things we can do from a superficial level but we are not healing and you cannot experience the success or achievement that you have if you are constantly distracting yourself.
We all go through this. I’m not a materialistic person but when I’m trying to fill a hole I will buy those shoes, hit the mall hard or go on a holiday – but nothing works and we can’t be talked out of feeling our feelings. The moment you address the feelings, let yourself mourn, don’t be distracted and let yourself heal, you’ll find the everyday things you’ve taken for granted will start to have a lot of meaning.”
Skills, characteristics or tools for a warrior woman?
“I don’t think we’re born with the characteristics of a warrior woman, I think we develop them. I don’t think any of us are born brave. I think bravery is often confused with desperation because when we, as women, have nothing left to lose that’s when we give our best and give things our all – we have to, we have no other choice.
So none of us are born to be warriors, we become warriors as we go through life. And we pick up our bag of essentials and our weapons as we go along. And for me that is the emotional strength, stepping away from a very material life and looking beyond. But we pick up courage, we pick up bravery, we pick up compassion and kindness, we pick up a bag of love somewhere along the way. Because at the end of the day, it’s all of those things. I can’t say that you can go out and get them all in one go. Every hardship, every challenge, every joy in your life will earn you your little star or your little badge. It’s like you’re a scout in life.”
Why is it important for women to see themselves as warriors?
“With social media there is a huge shift in energy and everything that has been normal before has become abnormal and unacceptable. I think we are now a race of bullied people. We used to believe bullying happened in a school ground – no, it happens in relationships, it happens in a workplace, in a supermarket. Now more than ever we are going to have to learn to step up and put our own boundaries in place and say no because we cannot allow abuse to perpetuate on any level. There’s a new consciousness and we can’t allow the old to be standard anymore.”
What are your words of affirmation?
“You need to decide to be the warrior. You’re either going to win it or lose it when you get to the other side. Are you going to be a prisoner on the other side? Are you going to be a captive or held captive or are you going to be set free? In every situation there are two choices, I’m either going to be the prisoner or I’m going to be a winner and for me there’s no choice- I’m going to be the winner.”
Which female warriors do you look up to?
“There are so many people that inspire me and I take inspiration from different places. I have a lady who has been working for me for 15 years and when I am really down she will come to me and remind me of the things that are really, really important. She has incredible strength and faith and that will ground me.
I always say that my paternal grandmother had the gift of giving pure, true love – and at some point I took that love for granted. And I just thought granny’s love is granny’s love. And when I gave that love the recognition and the honour and the respect it deserved I realised that if people can’t love me the way that she did, then I’m not getting into this. She was a women without education but every day I’d come home from school and she’d be reading the newspaper – slowly and a couple of times from cover to cover. She was resilient and determined and she knew how to love and that love was an example of how I needed to live my life and honour myself.
My grandmother was a real warrior, I learned to cook, bake, sew, draw, sketch and paint from her. So although she had no education, she was a giver – she was petite and quiet and gentle – but she was fierce in her determination. I think she’s the one person that just shines bright and I’ll always carry her. And I’ll always say to people, if you’ve experienced my love and kindness, you’re experiencing her.
There are also my friends who are warrior women and people who work in my team. There’s my daughter who is just an incredible support. People say parents sacrifice for their children but I think my children also sacrifice to be my kids because I do so much and I’m always busy running around and they’re very forgiving – so learn to be forgiving. As you get older you get a little more set in your ways, a bit of a dragon and my children have taught me to practice understanding and have a forgiving side. I learn from all over – there’s always something you can learn from people.”
Many thanks for your honesty and sensitivity Yudhika.
Listen to our podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/user-201756680-698831979/sets/warrior-women-series