28: Finding Your Authentic Path w/ Kajal Pandey
Kajal Pandey is a life coach, self-love revolutionary and writer. Her story will inspire you to follow your heart and happiness to live your most authentic life.
Links: Kajal Pandey
- Website | www.kajalpandey.com/
- YouTube | youtube.com/dearkajal
- FB Community | www.facebook.com/groups/thesoulsanctuarycommunity/
- A Course in Miracles | www.acim.org/
- Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani | anitamoorjani.com/books/
- Conversations with God | www.cwg.org/
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- If we don't do what we love, if we don't follow our heart, we can never make anyone else happy.
- When you love yourself, you can love your life.
Welcome to the Lavendaire Lifestyle, the podcast on lifestyle design for millennials. I'm Aileen and I'm here to guide you to become a master artist of life. Every Sunday you'll get new insight and inspiration on how to create your dream life. After the episode, the conversation continues in our Lavendaire Lifestyle Facebook group, so I can't wait to see you there. Life is an art, make it your masterpiece.
Aileen: Hi everyone! It's Aileen, your host of The Lavendaire Lifestyle. Today I have a special guest that I'm excited to bring on the show again. So her name is Kajal Pandey, and if you listened to the first season of the podcast, you'll know who she is because honestly, that episode where I interviewed Kajal was one of my favorite episodes still, to date. So I really wanted to bring her back just to catch up with her and introduce more of her story to the rest of you.
So Kajal Pandey is a life coach, self love revolutionary, and writer. And you can find her on her website at KajalPandey [dot] com. That's spelled K-A-J-A-L P-A-N-D-E-Y dot com. So hi Kajal, what's up?
Kajal: Hi Aileen. Thanks so much for having me, again.
A: I know! I'm so excited to have you back because I think you're just so wonderful. You're so real and you know what you're talking about. You're just so good at it.
K: Thank you.
A: Alright, so let's talk about your story a little bit because I want to know the ‘why' behind everything that you do, because I know you're a life coach and you're all about self love. Can you talk about what exactly got you into it?
K: So I was a…always a very curious kid. I always looked at the world and I would always think to myself, “Hmm, why is it like that?” I was never the kid that would just do what they were told. I was always questioning my parents all the time: “Why do we do this? Why don't we do this?” And as an immigrant to this country–I moved here when I was five–I didn't speak English. It's actually my second language, believe it or not.
K: I had this kind of–instilled within me that we moved here for the American dream, we moved here for better opportunities. And so I kind of–that was a really big part of my upbringing. So for me, it became very important for me to find my own voice and find my own path very early on in life, because I saw my dad struggle so much to get us to this country. And it kind of put this, I guess, responsibility–I'm also the oldest child–to make sure I used that opportunity he gave me in a very full spectrum way. It was very untraditional in the way I went about it. It was originally–my whole dream, life dream, has always been to help people. That was my goal ever since I was five years old, and I thought that meant to be a doctor. That's typical for Asian parents to put that upon their kids, very typical for Asians to want to be doctors.
But there was something that was not in harmony, in resonance, with me even though my whole entire life had been set up so I could go to college, be a doctor, and you know, help people. And I thought helping people meant to be a doctor. And when I had this realization that that's not the form it needed to be in, I told my dad that–I think I was nineteen at the time. I went to my dad and I said, “I don't want to be a doctor anymore,” and he looked at me and he said, “Kajal, you broke my dreams.”
A: Oh sh–oh my god.
K: And I said, “Yes, because they're your dreams. Now I'm going to find what my dreams are.”
A: Oh wow.
K: So that–saying that statement, having that conversation with my father, was the hardest thing I had to do in my life because I was defying everything he's ever taught me, and defying the quote-unquote “opportunity” he brought me over to give. Because in his eyes, that was, you know, to be successful, to have a good job, a good career, make good money. And I didn't know what I was doing at the time. It just kind of opened this doorway. It's like, “Okay, well I want to help people,” because that was really still prominent. I was like, “That's my goal. My mission was to help people.” And I thought I wanted to be a diplomat. I went to school and got a degree in International Affairs, Diplomacy, and International Security. Again, the theme is helping people.
But when I had what I call my “divine storm” in 2000, I want to say, 2011 when my whole life fell apart. I was graduating college. And it was really funny. College set you up for knowing what you want to do with your life. It was the exact opposite for me. I was like, “Well, I have a degree now.” But I was more confused than I ever was.
A: Same for me, exact same.
K: Just kind of began on this whole searching experience, seeking truth, what is real for me. I have this desire to help people but what does that translate as? What does that look like? And so I got really, really hardcore into personal development.
A: I kind of want to rewind because I don't want to brush over the part where you had to sit down and talk to your dad. I'm sure that it took a lot to get to that point. I know a lot of people out there, they feel like they're not living aligned to what they really want to do, but they do have that parent pressure on them. So can you share about what even–how did you even gather the courage to do that? Was there a breaking point? What happened?
K: For me, I've always had this strong inclination that if we don't do what we love, if we don't follow our heart, we can never make anyone else happy. And so I always knew that if I were to do–if I was ever going to make someone else, it had to come if I was happy. And I think this realization along with–I kind of really asked myself–I kind of weighted the pros and cons. I was like, “Well, if you continue to become a doctor–” and by the way, I think me not doing good in my organic–me not doing good in my organic chem classes was a sign. I was like, “Well, you know I probably should not be getting a C or D this semester right now, and really messing up my GPA.”
A: I mean, I've heard that that is like one of the hardest classes ever.
K: And I was like, “Well, if I can't get through O-Chem, then I'm probably not going to make it through med school.” It was just–I was weighing this out. And I was like–and the other thing was I started asking myself like, “Am I really enjoying myself?” Like do I enjoy taking my classes? Do I really enjoy studying and the whole experience of going to school as–I was a biology major. And I was like, “Am I enjoying my experience right now?” and it was always this no. I would hate to go to classes and I didn't feel motivated or inspired to study. I was constantly like–it felt like a chore rather than an excitement. And I was like, “Well, if this is going to be the next,” you know, I think it was eight more years to go. I couldn't, I couldn't do it.
So I kind of sat there with myself and I said, “Right now, you're struggling to even get through your classes and even show up for what you need to do right now. And the pressure and workload is only going to get even bigger. I don't think I have the capacity to do that.” And I just checked in with myself and I said, “I'm actually miserable.” and I don't want to prolong my misery even more. And I want to feel happier.” If a job that you're doing doesn't make you happy, then it's not aligned to you.
A: I think a lot of people zone that out, though. They block it out like, “I have to sacrifice to get that reward.” But they don't think about “Am I actually happy right now?”
K: Yeah, and that's where it comes back to–journey is just as important as the destination. If the journey is not fun and exciting, it doesn't matter what the destination look likes. It will never feel exciting if the process doesn't feel exciting and doesn't feel good for you.
A: I think that's wonderful news because that means you should be enjoying every day in whatever you're doing. If you're not enjoying every day, then that means maybe you should do something else or who knows what. You should shift something, right?
K: Right. And then another thing is: if you have a dream–let's say your dream is to be a doctor. And that's so amazing that your dream is to be a doctor. But if you're not in love with the process, then it's not really your dream; it's a dream that you've been taught is yours.
A: Yeah, there's a big difference there. You have to love the process. Okay, you can continue on. So you found yourself, right? You're exploring.
K: Yeah, so I didn't love the process. So I was like, “I'm miserable, and if I'm miserable now then I'm probably going to be miserable when I am a doctor working crazy hours.” So I just literally–I literally just had to do it for myself. As I went and I had this conversation with my father–and it wasn't, it wasn't good. There was a lot of emotional heaviness, crying and everything. And I just remember telling him one day, I was like–not telling him one day, but I remember telling him that day. I said, “I don't know what I'm going to do with my life, but I know I'll make you proud.” That's all I said.
K: And at the time, I was like, “I have no idea what I'm getting myself into.” But I just, I just want to tell everybody who's listening right now is that, if you're doing something you don't love and you're not enjoying the process, take that as your sign to kind of check in with yourself and be like, “Well, am I doing this because this is what I was taught I should do? Is this my mom and my dad's dream? Is this what think is successful? Will it make me a lot of money?” And check in with yourself: “Well, what do I want to do? What makes me feel happy? What makes me feel excited?” And when you check in with yourself and you start honoring that, you'll realize that that's what you need to go out to do to really fulfill whatever it is that you want to have and achieve in your life.
A: Right. So what about you? What about now in your journey? Do you feel like you love the process?
K: I do. I…it took me a long time to get to this place where I knew that I wanted to be a life coach, because it's not a very–it's not a regulated field. There's not a career path you could go down and follow. While I was doing my searching on Google and things like that back in 2012, I came across the words “life coach”, and it just hit me like a wall. I was like, “I don't know what this means. I don't even know what a life coach is, but this is for me.” And when I understood it’s all about helping people remember the truth about who they are, helping people fall in love with themselves, helping people become the best version of themselves, I was like, “This. Is. It. This is it.”
And so I went ahead. I did a life coach training program. I read so many books. I connected with other coaches. I would get on Skype calls with them, and I would be like, “What was your process? What did you do?” just to pick their brain. And at that point in time, my confidence levels were so low. But one thing that really helped me was I started making YouTube videos around that time. And I started making my YouTube videos as a way for me to teach myself what I was learning. Because I was in a Kundalini yoga class, and my teacher told me this statement by Yogi Bhajan. She’s a master of Kundalini yoga. She said, “If you want to learn something, teach it.”
A: Yes. That's part of why I started my channel too. I had to learn the stuff.
K: So I used my YouTube videos as a platform for me to learn, and it started evolving into something where I started gaining more confidence and more courage. And I came to realize that I actually know what I'm talking about, and all the personal development work that I've been doing myself was actually–I could see the physical results of it. And that's when I was like, “Okay, really, that word “life coach” that I saw two years ago, I'm going to really step into that.” And that's when I met my mentor who I took the life coach training program with. And it just evolved into something that became that mission that I had since I was little, was to help people.
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A: Yeah, that's wonderful. It sounds like it all just happened so fast and so magically, like the universe conspired to help you to become a life coach. But do you want to get into the details of how that actually happened? Like did you have some years of being confused and being uncertain as you were trying to find this?
K: Of course.
A: Yeah, it's not easy. I know it's not easy.
K: It may seem like, “Oh, it happened so magically and so fast and so organically.” It didn't feel like that at all. It was such a struggle to come into my own, to feel confident in my voice, to feel confident sharing myself, to feel confident in who I was. It wasn't, you know, night and day switch. It was an experiment. I would consistently–what I told myself is the way we get good at something is we keep practicing at it. So for example: if you want to be a world-class violinist, you have to practice like three or four hours or eight hours a day to get to that level of your game, right? So I told myself, well, if I wanted to feel confident in my abilities to help people as a coach, I had to practice at it. And what I would do is–literally, I would read and then I would coach myself through the experience. I would record–I'm not even kidding–I would record myself and talk to myself out loud as if I was a third person listening to my story. I had my meditation practice. This is where–this is where mind dump journaling came big for me. I think it's also called Morning Pages. I used to do that a lot.
What I started doing was getting aware of my inner world. What was going on within me? What belief system did I have that told me that I can't do this? We have a list of Why's–we all have a list of why we can't do something, and then we harp on that. But how many of us actually have a list of why I can do something? So start making that list of why I can do this. That's where you pull your confidence from and your ability to believe in yourself from.
A: Alright, let me just recap because you shared a lot. So it's all about practice makes perfect and, you know, asking yourself why I can do this. You know, building that confidence over time because I know it sounds like, in hindsight, all of these amazing things have been boom, boom, boom, and it was perfect. But, you know, as the process what happening, it wasn't so easy.
And I just want to share that with everyone because I know that when you're looking at someone who's there already, who's successful, they're like, “Oh man, it must be easy for them. They're there already. I'm still struggling.” No, everyone goes through that uncertain period of time where they're exploring and you really have to build yourself. You can't cheat that. There's no shortcut.
A: Another thing I do want to mention is it's so fun that most people don't realize that I met you online when we were both starting out. Was it 2014?
K: I think, yeah. It was two years ago, I think.
A: Kajal, you have a special place in my heart because you were the first person that I found on YouTube who was talking about personal development and self love, all of the stuff. I think we were–our channels were both really small. We were just starting so I was so excited to find your channel. And then we just became friends online. It was so cute.
K: As I. I remember finding it. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I'm not the only crazy person talking about this!”
K: And the weird thing: when I started my YouTube channel, I felt like there was a niche missing. It was like young women who were talking about things other than fashion and beauty. I mean, they're so perfect in their place, but I felt like there was no one really talking about the guts of what really matters in life, our emotional state and our mind and our body and our soul. And when I found you, I was like–it was such a validation. I was like, “Hooray!”
A: Yeah, I felt exactly the same way. I was like, “No one is talking about this stuff. I'm freaking lost in life and no one is talking about being lost. No one's talking about reading books and developing yourself.” So I think it's really, really cool to just connect and have gotten that from you. So thank you! I'm very grateful for you.
K: As am I.
A: So let's go back to you. You didn't mention it today but I know this is a part of your story. You have mentioned that you've struggled with depression. And now you're completely self-loving and positive and empowering. I want to know: what advice do you have for either someone struggling with depression, or someone who has a loved one struggling with depression? Because I've known–you know, sometimes there are people in the Lavendaire community who are going through that phase and I just want to know: what's the best way to handle that?
K: Okay, so first understand what depression is. Depression is not who you are. It is who you think you are. And I use this analogy all the time. Depression is like wearing sunglasses and wondering where the light is. Over time, what happens is: circumstances or situations or life events happen that kind of just lower your vibration, lower your vibration, and kind of put you into a hole. And then you develop this self of having depression, and you wear these sunglasses. And then they're covering your eyes and you can't really see around you. It's like, “Why does everything look really dark and murky?” And you're just–”I'm over this experience of this darkness.” That's what depression feels like. It feels like this dark cave. But all you really have to do is take those sunglasses off and realize that light has been there all along. You just chose to wear sunglasses.
And the reason I use that analogy is because it's such a simple way of helping people understand that depression is a choice. Choosing to feel depressed is a choice. And I know that sounds very harsh. Why would I choose to be depressed? Well it's a non-conscious choice. Maybe, perhaps, you had a really hard childhood like I did. Or you had a really hard time getting good grades in school like I did. Or you had a really hard time finding what your career path was, like I did. And everyone around you is successful and you're like, “Well, what's wrong with me?” So it's natural to kind of feel really low and depressed about that. But the more you continue to believe that is the truth of who you are, the more it will feel that it has become you.
So your job is to go back and be like, “Okay, well when I was a baby, did I feel this way? No.” So there's obviously something that happened along the lines that I have chosen to feel this way about myself, instead of feel empowered and realizing that it's like wearing sunglasses that are blocking out all the amazing things and all the wonderful opportunities, and all the wonderful things that can happen for me if I just take these bloody sunglasses off and realize that I have just as much opportunities or just as much capacity or just as much, you know, intelligence or worth or deservingness as anyone else does. I just have to stop choosing to think of myself in this way and define myself in this way.
And then the question I would ask on top of that is: What would the empowered woman or man that I am do? How would she live? How would she think? How would she feel? How would she, you know, act? What would she do? All these things, it's a process. It's constantly asking yourself, “Okay, I hate the way I'm feeling. But I want to feel better.” That's also a choice; choosing to feel better is a choice. “If I were to feel empowered about who I am, what would that look, feel, act like?”
A: So just asking that question is so key though. What would the empowered version of me act like? What would I do? I think that's not something everyone thinks about off the top of their head. You have to make it conscious. Right. And what if, like I said, one of your loved ones is depressed, as someone from the outside? Because, you know, sometimes when you tell people things, they can't really receive it? Just curious.
K: If your loved one is depressed, the best thing you can do is love them as they are right now. So what happens sometimes when someone is depressed, what we do is: “Oh, you shouldn't be feeling this way. There's more to life out there for this. You know, it's not worth your time feeling this way.” In the state of mind that they are, they don't know that's possible for them. So when you do come to them and you say, “You should be feeling better,” or “This is not right,” they get even more defensive and they’re just like, “Go away.” If you can meet them where they are and be like, “I understand what you're feeling. I know this must be really hard for you. I know you're having a hard time. I know it's probably really hard to get up in the morning.” Just kind of show compassion, kindness to where they are right now.
And then kind of just plan an activity with them. It's like, “You know what? It's my treat. I want to really take us to go get some ice cream,” or “I watched this trailer for this movie and I think we should go watch it together.” Meeting them where they are with kindness and compassion, Step 1. Step 2 is: Plan an activity for you to do with them so they start trusting you and start knowing that you're there for them in their time, rather than forcing it upon them to change and be like, “Dude, get over yourself.”
A: No, that makes total sense. So meet them where they are, love them, and show that you care through acts. Yeah, it's funny that you bring that up because I also went through some sort of depression the end of my college years and right after I graduated. And I remember during that time, I was crying all the time. I would tell my boyfriend and my brother and my mom that I was depressed and I wanted to find help. I called the school psycho–I don't know what they're called–psychological help line or whatever. I did that. I went that far. But they didn't believe that I was sad as I was. They were like, “Why can't you just get over it?” Then my boyfriend's like, “I don't understand.” And it was just not compassionate. He's not a very empathetic person. He's more logical or whatever, but yeah. I understand that that hurts, when people just don't get you. So it's best to just love them no matter what.
K: Yeah. Another thing is: when someone is telling you “I really don't feel good. I really don't feel like myself. I really do feel depressed,”–and for me, I had suicidal depression and I didn't have anyone to say to that I feel that way. But when someone is telling you that–for someone to feel this way, they must really feel this way. Don't just brush it off and just be like, “Oh, she's just having one of those days.” It's–for human beings, it's really not easy or comfortable for us to say we're not feeling the best about ourselves because we're taught to just kind of fake it and put a smile on our face and cover it up. But if someone is genuinely telling you “I really think I need some help,” or “I just don't feel my best,” or “I am in depression,” take them seriously.
A: Alright, take people seriously. As we're towards the end of the episode, I want to ask you: do you have a favorite book or resource that you're inspired by at the moment?
K: At the moment…at the top of my head, I'm gonna–well, you obviously know this. I'm a huge, huge, huge–I won't say advocate, but a huge follower or student of A Course in Miracles. That book has been so profound for me in my healing and my journey. I come back to it every day. It's just something I come back to to anchor myself. But for your listeners, I would really suggest Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani. It's a great book on self love, on treasuring your magnificence, owning your worth, owning your value, really understanding what it is to fall in love with yourself. And if you don't do that, you can't create a life you love. And I always say this: when you love yourself, you can love your life. It's just synonymous for one another.
And then the book that I think–a book that I'm currently reading is a book called Conversations with God. It's a metaphysical book, but it's just a beautiful journey of this man who started a conscious stream of writing, and he was so sick of his thoughts and how he was feeling that he would write it out in his notebook. And he started realizing that God or your higher self (however you relate to higher power, higher energy) started speaking to him. Basically the truth is that you are in charge of what happens to you. You are in charge of your life. You are in charge of your destiny. You have to go out there and basically birth whatever you want. There's no one coming to save you. You are that person that you need that will come and basically save you and give you all the things that you want. So that's what I'm reading right now.
A: Awesome. Sounds amazing. So: Dying to Be Me and Conversations with God, correct? I'll have links to those in the blog post. Send me those links, Kajal, and I'll share it with everybody. And one last question is: What action can we all take today to bring us closer to living our most authentic life?
K: This is something that I do every day is asking myself the question: What is going right in my life? Because so many times, we're always so focused on what's wrong, what's not working, where I'm not yet, who I have not become yet. But coming back to this moment today, and ask yourself: What is going right? And you'll realize that, “I am further along than I think. I am feeling better than I did yesterday. I do have a roof over my head. I did have this amazing meal or this amazing conversation.” Always coming back to that place of appreciation, gratitude, and appreciating the goodness that is your life because it doesn't matter how something may not be working or doesn't feel right. It's this quote–what's this quote? “Every day may not be a good day, but there's always something good in every day.”
A: Oh yeah. Love it.
K: So when you ask yourself the question “What is going right in my life?” well, you have all this stuff to pull from. So when you're having a bad day–I love to use this when I'm having an off day. (I call it an “off day”.) So I ask myself, “What is right in your life, Kajal?” And then it's like, “Oh my gosh, so many things are right in my life.” And it instantly reenergizes me and realigns me. It's like, “Okay, things aren't really as bad as you think they are.”
A: I love that so much. I'm like a natural note-taker so as you're speaking, I want to type that in and take that note. “What is going right in my life?” Everyone, journal that. That is your journaling prompt for today. I'm totally going to journal that right after this interview. But thank you for sharing that. I love it so much. You're always such a bright, shining light. So lastly: where can our listeners find you?
K: Come over to my website at KajalPandey [dot] com. Or you can go check me out on YouTube at YouTube [dot] com [slash] DearKajal. And then you can find me on all social media as @DearKajal as well.
A: DearKajal. So it's K-A-J-A-L. Alright, thanks so much! Have a beautiful day.
K: Thank you so much.
Alright, that's it for today's episode. Thank you so much for listening to The Lavendaire Lifestyle. If you like the podcast, please show your support by leaving a review on iTunes. It helps me so much. It also helps other people find the show. You can also catch me on YouTube and Instagram at @lavendaire, where I have even more content for the Artist of Life.
Alright, love you all. Bye!
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