Grace Chang, Founder and CEO of Kintsugi interviews Rajeshree Dembla, a San Francisco Product Manager on self-discovery and finding the coping mechanisms that resonate with you.
GC: Hi Rajeshree, welcome to the Kintsugi Journal and I’m pleased to introduce you to our fellow community. You’ve made quite an impact as not only a frequently requested Moderator of Mentor Night, an organization to support women in product in the Bay Area, but also an incredibly stirring career leading product as a Product Manager for Autodesk’s flagship product, AutoCAD for the last four-and-a-half years, and now I hear, an exciting new opportunity at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park!
RD: Hi Grace, thank you so much for having me, and I’m excited to be here speaking to your community at large. It’s been a whirlwind year and there’s a lot to unpack!
GC: Great, well before we dive into your latest, I’d like to dig a little deeper into your past. Tell me more about growing up. As an Indian woman living in America, I’m sure you have a unique perspective to share.
RD: Since childhood, I’ve never openly spoken about my feelings - somehow it wasn’t a conversation anyone engaged in. I remember brushing off my feelings when I was upset, if something bothered me or even if I was really happy and wanted to celebrate. The only thing we celebrated back then were my grades. It was the normal I knew.
GC: As an immigrant from Taiwan, growing up in Colorado, I can definitely empathize. My parents were exactly “caring” in the same way with grades, and it was not easy to talk openly about how I was feeling, like ever. How about now?
RD: Fast forward to 2018, I felt like I was carrying a huge weight on my shoulders every step of the way and it was starting to slow me down. I felt lost and didn’t understand why I was exhausted all the time. That’s when I decided to invest in myself, my mental state and playing detective to my own feelings.
GC: I love that you were cognizant enough to realize your personal needs.
RD: I started to observe my triggers, my reactions and noted everything down to find patterns. I, for the first time ever, sought help from a coach, friends and family to talk about my feelings, talk being the key word here. While I believe I’m still in the phase of discovering myself, I want to share one learning that positively impacts my state of being. In the past, I’ve always suppressed my emotions and focused on what I need to do next to be happy. It was my way to avoid dealing with negative emotions. Or you could say, I was perpetually in denial.
GC: That’s interesting that by taking a pause to observe yourself, you saw yourself for the first time. We, myself included, feel like we need to suppress our feelings in order to look on to what’s next and how to be happy, and we laugh now that we can see that we’re just in denial. So, Rajeshree, how do you cope today, now knowing your triggers?
RD: Today, when I’m sad, stressed or anxious, the first thing I do is ‘say it out loud’. Verbalizing the situation helps me analyze my emotions, acknowledges my feelings and makes the issue and situation real. It’s my way of accepting reality and figuring out a way to cope. Since saying things out loud helps me realize and rationalize a situation, I've found Kintsugi to be really helpful to talk to when I need to ramble. That’s when I transition from denial to acceptance. Then, I intentionally listen to my ramble on loop, which isolates me from the situation and gives me the third person perspective. It almost like listening to someone else’s ramble. This gives me clarity and an unbiased approach to deal with situations in a calm, composed, and resilient way.
GC: Thank you for sharing, Rajeshree. It makes my heart sing when I hear that we’ve built something to personally help you through your challenges. Dozens of studies have shown the benefits of verbalizing problems and part of the effectiveness of journaling is the ability to articulate an issue and the other is the act of venting, as we often do with our loved ones and those we trust dearly. We are thrilled to launch our U.S. patent-pending intelligent voice journaling app for mindfulness in the Apple store (bit.ly/kintsugi-preorder) and excited to continue efforts in making progress for improved mental health everywhere.
RD: I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my story and invite your readers to reach out to me anytime.
GC: Thank you for being so generous with your time. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I am truly grateful for friends like you who have a unique perspective to share.