Beyond the Spotlight: Celebrating the Unsung




What, or rather, who do you think of when you read these words?

Was it the face of a fearless historical figure?

Perhaps it was the author whose words linger in your mind eternally?

Or was it the charming actress with flawless features?


When the prompt “inspirational women” echoed in my mind, I never envisioned the woman who played a pivotal role in shaping my life’s narrative. This, I admit, was a grave oversight. I was brushing through my memories, searching for the woman who always inspired me.


In the unwavering strength and captivating stories of my grandmother, I discovered a spark. It was through the boundless patience and selfless love of my mother that I learned countless valuable lessons. It was in the carefree confidence of my female friends, the tenacious journalist who quit her job to pursue her own path and the authors who left an indelible mark on my soul with their words. The singer piercing my heart with her mellifluous voice also joined this cloud of inspiration. Yet, amidst this impressive list, I overlooked the one genuinely significant person who consistently stood by my side, the one who ignited the fire within me to chase my dreams.


She maneuvered the world with a quiet confidence, a woman who was both steel and silk. Her perfectly ironed indigo saree held intact the mysteries inside her. Minimal makeup lets her expressive eyes take center stage with expertly applied kohl and winged liner. Her delicate brown colored tresses flowed down her shoulders. A tiny red bindi, antique jhumkas, and an infectious smile complete the picture – a blend of grace and strength. By day, she was a corporate professional; by night, an aspiring writer fueled by her playlist that echoed through her veins and experiences that colored her world. A perpetual overthinker, an anxious young woman, and yet a forever student of the world with a heart overflowing with stories yearning to be told.


From a ten-year-old girl drowning in a sea of self-doubt to the independent multi-tasking woman, she has come a long way. The world was a vast maze filled with failure around every corner. Negative self-talk was a persistent, unwelcome companion. In all honesty, it still follows her like a shadow, whispering doubts and anxieties that erode her confidence. Yet, somewhere along the way, she discovered a spark. A spark that ignited, burning away the inner demons to ashes. While these demons aren’t entirely defeated, she has learned to confront them head-on.


The monsters outside wore human masks and took different roles in her life. They lurked around her day and night, making casual sexist remarks. They resided in the comments that questioned her appetite when she looked thin and labeled her a couch potato when she gained weight. They were present in the jokes that objectified her, phrases like “don’t be a crybaby” or “learn to act like a woman” – ones that have infected her everyday conversations. She tried conforming to the societal mold of womanhood. To her dismay, the harder she tried, the more she failed. The ever-changing narrative of a ‘good woman’ made success elusive. “A woman’s place is in the kitchen,” they said. But within that kitchen, she envisioned more than cooking and cleaning – she dreamt of wielding a metaphorical knife against the limitations they tried to impose.


The world is a draft of unspoken expectations and for women, the pages often weigh heavy on domestic duties.


This woman defied those expectations. She wouldn’t cook because it was a prerequisite for marriage. She didn’t prioritize getting married at 23 just because her biological clock was supposedly ticking. She meticulously carved her own path. This story might sound ordinary, but that’s precisely what makes it so remarkable. She was beautifully human, and that’s what truly inspired me at every step.


In this constant search for external heroes, I had completely overlooked the extraordinary woman in my life. Even as I write this piece, she’s beside me, offering valuable insights and anecdotes. Yet, I turned a blind eye to her. This simple yet profound truth struck me – the most influential woman in my life had been staring back at me in the mirror all along. Yes, it was me. I am the architect of my journey, the hero of my own story. Call it self-love, excellent. Label it self-absorbed; perhaps I am. But don’t we all deserve a little self-centeredness?


Isn’t it pathetic that we weren’t the first people to come to our minds when we think of remarkable women? We face so much and fight our own battles, yet sometimes struggle to be our own source of inspiration. Ironic! I will proudly say my younger self inspires me. When I want to give up, I remember how much I’ve overcome. The challenges that once seemed insurmountable, the hurdles that threatened to break me – each one revealed a hidden strength within. The ability to learn, the quiet resilience that refused to give up, an unwavering determination to succeed against all odds. I am independent but not alone. I seek emotional support and cry sometimes. Hey, it’s a great way to release pent-up emotions! My therapist suggested journaling, and guess what? It turns out I’m usually anxious. I tend to rant, even when the problem is minor. But that’s me, and I accept it. This woman right here makes jokes (maybe even bad ones!), cries it out (if that makes me a crybaby, so be it!), and that’s perfectly okay.


And, by the way, I can cook because I choose to, not because I am expected to.


These aren’t traits I possess because of some inherent talent. They are the hard-won trophies of battles fought and lessons learned. Remember the “average” student in math? That girl who couldn’t see the logic, the beauty in numbers? Today, I lead a team in data analytics. Numbers are no longer a source of frustration but a complex language I’ve painstakingly learned to speak.


The transformation goes beyond academics. Once, I was hesitant to speak up, worried that my voice wouldn’t be heard or, worse, found lacking. Today, fueled by a desire to connect and make a difference, I aspire to be a writer. The words that flow from my pen have the power to touch lives, create empathy, and ignite change.


There were countless other battles – standing up to authority figures despite the fear of repercussions, taking calculated risks, and forging my own path. Each victory, small or large, fueled my self-belief. It wasn’t always easy. There were days shrouded in doubt, moments when the fire threatened to flicker and die. But through it all, a voice whispered, “You’ve come this far. Don’t give up now.”


This essay is not about the struggles, though they are a vital part of the story. It’s about the woman who emerged from those struggles stronger, more confident, and deeply proud of who she has become. This woman, a product of perseverance, self-discovery, and unwavering self-belief, is the true inspiration.


And it is finally dawning on me – this woman standing before the mirror, this writer, this fighter, this leader – she is me. It was always me. All along, I have been my own greatest inspiration.


So ladies, the next time someone asks who inspires you, be bold and say YOU. You’ll set an example, not just for yourself, but for countless other ordinary women who do extraordinary things yet remain unseen. Let’s celebrate ourselves, the heroes born, nurtured, and evolved within us.



Akshaya Ganesh:

A data analyst who is on a journey to quench her thirst for artistic pleasures. She is perpetually seeking out conversations and experiences that will ignite her soul and grey cells. The world to Akshaya is nothing but tales of different people from different walks of life. Driven by the mantra of Word. World. Wisdom. Lost in her own world of literature and poetry.  On a normal day, you can find her crooning an ARR song with a chai in hand.