on failure, growth & self discovery (a never-ending story)

These few letters, transformed into choice words and injected with great power and meaning, have turned into a mantra that escaped the tip of my tongue in the early mornings and flooded all my late-night thoughts the past few months, replaying over and over and over again.

Those nearest and dearest to my heart all have known that since the moment I began preparing for my journey back to the US after my internship with SPS two years ago, I have had a burning desire to return, and while it flickered, it remained wholly inextinguishable. On that last full day in India, watching the sun rise along the banks of the Yamuna River, I gaped at the Taj in complete awe and wonder, but I felt adamant and headstrong in those moments that it would not be my last time in this wonderfully colorful and complicated place. Now, as I sit watching the morning haze slowly come up over Delhi at the India Habitat Centre, I’m reflecting on the physical, emotional and mental journey it took to get here.

The past year has been, well, weird – to say the very least. I felt very insecure and unsure about the future as I left Philly and returned to Texas, struggling to figure out what my next steps would be. I never in a million years imagined I would be at home, and I felt embarrassed, like a failure. I would wake up and face each day filled with uncertainty and loads of self-doubt. After exhaustive job searches and application after application, I was really feeling discouraged about my life after college. I wasn’t sure what the next steps would be, so I took the time to re-evaluate my passions and goals; I tried to transform a scary world of unknowns and big questions marks into an exciting opportunity to dive headfirst into something significant and meaningful to me, like returning to work with Kumbaya. So it took me a while to realize that being at home, spending time with family, figuring out what drives me, focusing on myself — that was truly a blessing. it allowed me the time to look deep within myself and think back to one of the most significant, inspiring times of my life.

That summer I spent with Samaj Pragati Sahayog was so eye-opening…I felt truly lucky to have been welcomed at an organization that believes in true empowerment and strengthening at the roots. After constant daydreaming and imagining myself back with the Kumbaya team after the great work we did together, I discussed with Nive didi to make it a reality. And now, I’m so, so happy to finally share that I will be returning to Madhya Pradesh for a position with Kumbaya, a brand whose passion for design, creativity and sustainability is wholly propelled by the energy and work of the producers in the challenging farmland regions of MP- but this time I will be here for 10 months to fully immerse myself in the entire process, from the designing, to marketing, to production and distribution. I am so truly thankful for the support from amazing Nive didi, Aparna, CASI, UPIASI and my parents for helping make this amazing opportunity come to life after months. It took me a while to be honest and true to myself, to acknowledge that this was what I really wanted in my heart, but I can say for the first time in a long while that I’m really excited and not as terrified for the (near) future.

To conclude, in the words of Melissa Harris-Perry from an amazing article on failure: (http://www.elle.com/life-love/a36936/melissa-harris-perry-ive-failed-over-and-over-again/)

“Guilt about our failures can be an adaptive emotion, one that motivates us to do better in the future.”

We should acknowledge our failures, we should embrace them as stepping stones and learning lessons in life that encourage us to improve and focus on our overall goals (like returning to work with your dream organization in India). The whole beauty of having either succeeded or failed is the decision to have tried something new to begin with! 

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

So, thanks for having me again on the CASI blog – I can’t wait to share more about this amazing journey I’m about to embark on with the Kumbaya team!

Much love,


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About Dani Castillo

passionate creative working with Kumbaya- Samaj Pragati Sahayog