Nik Davis has lived through euphoric highs and devastating lows, gathering a wealth of experiences and learnings along the way that she now shares with the world unfiltered and uncensored. She has lived through being poor and being rich, found her very own fairy tale love story and three beautiful children, being a successful consultant transforming organisations, and through a career break and as a stay at home mom, as a fashionista and an interior designer, and through depression, grief and a tough menopause and back to being a successful consultant but now on her own terms. She shares her varied interests in her three blogs she maintains, one on her personal life, one on her consulting career and the other on the interior design that she started as a hobby during her career break. She embraces social media and is brutally honest about her flaws bringing her authentic self as she records her blogs without a trace of make-up and isn’t afraid to show all her emotions in all its rawness.
To be a role model in sharing successes painting a rosy picture for the world is easy and an oft-trodden path while it is a rare feat to share personal failings and make her own self as an example without being preachy so others may benefit and this is how Nik differentiates herself.
In her own words, she was born into a working-class family growing up on a council estate where money was scarce and times were tough. Her early memories are of her entrepreneurial and hard-working father working out that campsites in the South of France were affordable, driving the family all the way there with no aircon, no power steering and not enough to even pay for the toll roads that they crossed. However, she emphasizes that she and her sisters were brought up to be feisty young women empowered to follow their dreams and passions. Nik was full of drive and ambition, seeing her sister being treated with scorn when she accompanied her shopping and having to pay with Government issued coupons, she promised herself that she’ll never be poor.
From an early age, she started work doing door to door sales of AVON and working as a waitress. She went to university working every hour during the holidays to help pay for it. She didn’t make it to blue-chip companies straight away and was told her resume wasn’t sexy enough.
From an early age, she started work doing door to door sales of AVON and working as a waitress. She went to university working every hour during the holidays to help pay for it. She didn’t make it to blue-chip companies straight away and was told her resume wasn’t sexy enough. And she responded by working hard in boutique consulting companies until she found her way into a blue-chip consulting company at which point she states she felt a true sense of utopia having arrived and feeling like one of the people she aspired to be. While she had by then gained access to socialites she was more attracted to people who had intelligence and could offer interesting conversations. And that is how she found her husband, a technology geek while working at Deloitte who according to her is a resilient, stoic, quirky and incredibly kind man, supporting her through thick and thin come what may.
Nik decided to set up her own boutique consulting company and her husband, also a Nick, joined her to help establish herself. In quick succession, she had her three babies going through a difficult delivery with her second boy who weighed over 11 pounds at birth. All through this Nik continued to work, sending emails she says from the hospital bed right after her delivery. She was trying hard to keep it all together, home, her children, and her work.
She remembers being envious of other mothers who seemed to have it all figured out while she felt like she was drowning and wasn’t doing a good job as a consultant and an even worse one as a mother. This went on until her husband decided to take her to a Doctor who identified her condition as a classic case of post-natal depression and helped her through a recovery process. Taking anti-depressants, Nik felt the need to share this with her school group and learnt that a significant number of other mothers were also taking anti-depressants themselves which astounded her as these were the same mothers she envied seeing how put together they all seemed. She believes that it may have helped to know earlier that she was aspiring to achieve an illusion that didn’t exist and from there stems her attempt at sharing her life without any gloss to help other women understand that it is ok to not be perfect all the time.
“The post-natal depression and subsequent experiences with death led to my lowest but also my most transformative moments. Before this period, I was driven by ego, measuring success based on materialistic and meaningless values. My life was ‘transactional’ chasing a ‘man-made’ rainbow and missing what really mattered. Going through these experiences helped me understand what mortality meant and that it is not a ‘theory’, learn to focus on what’s really important, recognize that there was quite a lot of me that I needed to work on – because I actually didn’t like myself that much and my dad was no longer around to protect me from myself and that my failures and weaknesses were probably the most important part of me that I could share – that is where the real lessons are. It also set me free in many ways – after the loss of loved ones, your perspective is forever changed and for the better actually. You finally get to open your eyes and see things and people for what they really are. Your hierarchy of importance is re-ordered by nature, not humans. Death is a harsh but real truth and somehow it enables you to see the truth in other aspects of your life too.
Grief and depression are lonely experiences, further exacerbated by our reticence to discuss them. I felt desperately alone, isolated and abnormal at times despite being surrounded by people who loved and cared for me – because no-one really talks about the dark, unpalatable aspects of life, no-one really knows what to say or do when it happens. That is why I made the decision to share my journey, for better or worse, to get behind the optical illusions and meaningless values to bring out into the light, the reality that people are often too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about.
I was lucky, I came back from my dark place – many people don’t make it back and therefore cannot helps the others who have yet to go there. I genuinely want to use my experiences to help others, to make sure they can come back too. I have a voice and an ability to do this. I was blessed with loving and caring people who all helped me through my darkest periods. I know that not everyone has this. I feel a need, a drive to use the skills, experiences, and support I have had to turn my sour lemons into lemonade for others.
I guess in a nutshell it’s about helping people to redefine what makes us all a true success, to live more authentic and truthful lives, to be whole and to be able to reveal our vulnerability knowing it will be met with compassion.”
Post-natal depression wasn’t the only difficulty she would face. She lost her brother in law, her sister’s husband whom she was close to and then discovered her father was terminally ill. Again, not being able to take charge, not being in control and being able to project manage her father’s last days, without adequate information, Nik felt at loss. And she wasn’t prepared for the grief she experienced on losing her father. She has done a vlog on grief where she gives in and cries and says ‘this is how grief looks like and that it is ok to cry’. Before she realized post-natal depression had hit her, her consulting business took a beating following the financial crash which was when her husband decided to go back to his old consulting job in a blue-chip company. She decided to take the hard decision to be a stay at home mother, winding down her projects, letting her associates go as well as her nanny and home help.
Being a stay at home mother did not prove to be easy and while managing three children Nik took up her other passion, being interior designing and set up a gorgeous lifestyle blog helping clients with interiors. She constantly felt an identity crisis – questioning her value and ability as a parent, managing the home and the children. Her husband would frequently tell her that he’d support her back into work if she so chooses, to try and help her see that she did have a choice and was not alone. But she chooses to abstain for as hard as being a stay at home mum was, the thought of leaving the children for several days a week was harder. It was after she lost her father and through the grief together with her grief counsellor realized that she needed to fill the hollowness and to re-invent herself as she could never be the person she was before her father died, that time had gone. And this was the beginning of her new professional career and personal mission.
And thus begins the renewed and current phase Nik is at, weaning her way back into the professional world. Her children are back at school, her youngest girl being seven years old. The career break has proved that Nik still likes to be the home-maker mom, being the primary caregiver for her children and running her home. She found that formal, employed positions as a part-time worker didn’t allow her to take on the exciting opportunities she vied for and decided to stay freelance and create her own reality. She is now is working to develop new and innovative transformation strategies for organisations while leaving the delivery phase to others.
She is doing the things she loves, reading and researching new approaches to management and life and has found that her corporate network, many of whom are men appreciate her position and are very supportive. At the same time, she is casting her net wider, going to networking meetings she wouldn’t have gone to in the past viz., spiritual retreats. She says a current project she is working on is from a lady she met on a beach in the south of France. And as she forays back into consulting, she brings her authentic self into the equation including transparency about the impact of the menopause on conversations and losing her line of thought, sharing her experiences encouraging organisations to adopt meaningful and flexible work environments to help people really flourish and reach their full potential. She signs off saying social media can either be used as a tool to show the world a photoshopped version of one’s life, or it can be embraced to support a community of people facing similar challenges and that she chooses to do the latter and hopes this proves helpful to others of her ilk.
Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on Life Less Ordinary – authored by Asha P. Pillai and Krieshma Suresh Jain, and is featured here with permission. Nik Davis is a Featured Contributor for our Site.