Lily KC is responsible for the vocational training at ChoraChori-Nepal, someone it seems who can turn her hand to anything. Even writing!
“I come from a middle-class family in Kathmandu. I was the youngest daughter in a household of eight, with five older siblings. I lost my father when I was just seven years old. He had some serious health conditions, which later on we came to find out was cancer. My family had to face a hard time during those days. Being a single mother, my mother worked as much as possible so that she could look after the family. Even though my older sisters always had my back, they were mostly involved in their own lives with their families. Hence, I barely had anyone to talk to about my feelings and sadness. Later, I started living with one of my sisters, and grew up with my niece and nephew. I would babysit them, help them with their studies while studying for my own.
I have always been that person who interacted less with everyone. I was a kind of introverted person and was scared to share my feelings due to the fear of being judged. I had a few close friends, and most people who didn’t know me properly would think of me as an arrogant person. Different people had different opinions about me, which I could not change and cared less about. While this was happening in my outside world, I was transforming into more of a creative person from inside; I started expressing my feelings through different artistic things such as drawing, knitting, decorating home, music, poems and so on. However, even with all these, I still lacked self-confidence and caused me to have low self-esteem. This made me into a person who would either always think several times before speaking or keep one’s thoughts to oneself.
When I was in high school, my sisters started a small business of homemade products. It used to be sold in the Sunday Farmers market when they started. I started helping them with the business. Later on, I along with one of my sisters started handling the business together. I had recently passed my School Leaving Examinations and so, I started focusing on the business and my study at the same time. I was very young when I started handling business with my sister. We had little knowledge about doing business and it was definitely scary. But, I knew this was a one time golden opportunity and I shouldn’t let it go.
I had been struggling a lot with the registration process for our small business. I ran from one government office to another with the reference letter; documents after documents while the waiting continued. I waited for more than a year for the registration. Every official that met me used to question me because I was a young lady with a lack of proper business knowledge. Since the government’s working procedure always takes a long duration, it took me months to meet the concerned official in person. Without his signature, I wouldn’t be able to run my business. Finally when the day came for me to meet him, there was another fear added to my list. After being questioned often regarding my credibility, it was starting to get me; the fear of people not believing in me as I was still quite young. I was a quiet person who barely asked any questions. Being inside the office and knowing that the business would finally be registered, I was excited as well as nervous to answer the questions.
He looked at me and asked if I had anything to say. I hesitated, because every time I spoke before, other officials would make it harder for us to do the processing. But then, I realized this was my only chance which would make a difference in the business, and eventually change my life and myself. I explained to him how difficult it was just to get an appointment with him, and that it was discouraging the youngsters like me when we wanted to do something in our own country. With a surprise on his face, he said that I was very young and innocent yet quite sharp and intelligent. He encouraged me to open up my thoughts and be strong even amidst these challenges. He told me that he could see my hard work, and if I added some confidence in my personality, I could achieve everything in my life. He started explaining about women in our country struggling especially in the business field. He advised me to make that weakness into my strength. He then got up, printed something and gave it to me. The papers that he handed me included everything about how to run a business, business’s rules and regulations, and guidelines on how to maintain accounts.
Though I was scared of moving outside of my comfort zone, the fear of not taking the chance/losing the opportunity and being behind made me stronger enough to deal with new people. Whether it be the government personnel for registration of our homemade product business or to pursue a business market in the local grocery supermarkets, I started approaching them without any hesitation. I never stopped until I succeeded in getting things done. This gave me more confidence. Slowly, growing with the age, I also improved my communication skills. The growth in my self-confidence helped me to grow my business. This growth has helped me to explore different fields in my career, and to be where I am today. I have become an omnivert from a shy introvert.
When I look back now, it still goes back to this day when that man believed in me during the whole hassle of business registration. From that day onwards, I’ve opened up to express my thoughts and feelings to people around me. All the struggles I had taught me how to deal with the situations tactfully, and I learned that being confident helps not only to grow yourself but your surrounding as well.”