We sit down with Pranjal Shah for a heart-to-heart conversation on the emotional strength it takes to help the most vulnerable in our society.
In Pranjal's words:
I am an avid traveller and ever since I was in college I have designed my life and career such that I can be exploring new places and gaining new experiences every single day. This has put me in touch with a lot of people from every walk of life and made me realise that most people in today's world have no one to talk to, that has propelled me to become a crisis counselor that can be there for people.
What drives you to give back?
I receive so much everyday from people around me. The smiles, the hand shakes, the eye contacts of strangers when you travel make you feel comfortable in unknown situations. I am able to navigate the world because of the generosity of people, it's this compassion and empathy that makes me want to be there for others when they are in a tough spot. Just knowing that we are all walking the same path, helps in creating the space that each of us needs to feel comfortable with another person.
What is the most meaningful part of your job?
A crisis text counselor is unable to see who they are talking to, and vice versa the texter is unable to see who we are. They could be 13 or 83, he/she/they, they could be in deep depression and unable to get out of bed or just had a fight with a loved one and need a shoulder to cry on. There are so many unknowns that it takes a form of compassion of its own.
I am able to relate to nameless, formless individuals with a love that is unbiased and pure. It's just one soul speaking to another, finding a way to connect that is natural in its flow and powerful in its essence. This is the most meaningful part of this work.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
These two sum up my accomplishment. If I can help one person feel better about themselves, even for a little while it feels like its all worth it. Just to know that you can be there both for the troubled texter and for your peers is a success in my books.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
"Trust your intuition".
I have spent years second guessing myself, trying to rationalize my decisions and trying to fit in to be able to navigate through tough situations. We are conditioned to imitate others, to blend in and be part of the herd. This is all to make us walk on the existing paths created by others before us that looked like success.
Yet, as we get older we realize there is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path and your intuition is already attuned to this path. You just have to listen to it, believe in it and be patient with yourself. Self compassion has to be practiced daily along with compassion for others. Only then can you create an environment where you are able to give back.
Do you have a favorite quote?
"You cant pour from an empty cup"
This may seem like a very simple phrase but it has helped me a lot. Please talk a lot about self care and self compassion, but most of us are programmed to feel guilty about indulging in these. Whenever I am about to experience something new, this is a powerful statement of self affirmation, I tell myself, I am filling my cup so when I am needed I can be there for others.
1000 Spotlights: Why We Give reflects our mission of giving back, to mentor and to inspire those around us. Through a series of interview questions, we explore intrinsic motivations behind why we give, and talk with those inclined to make a difference in the lives of others. If you are involved in charitable activities, volunteer and paid academic engagements or in community service, we want to talk to you.
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