What Taking Responsibility Really Means: Chermanna Achappa’s Life Lesson

He calls himself a movement enabler and he loves what he does. But 33-year-old Chermanna Achappa from Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), India, certainly hasn’t always been a strength and conditioning coach. For more than ten years, Chermanna worked in ‘a corporate setup’, while feeling a ‘constant tug within to do something with human movement or mountaineering’. “I felt stuck. Until I took full responsibility for my life and myself.”

text: Gwen Teo
photos and video: Chermanna Achappa

Chermanna Achappa was a happy-go-lucky child for a long time. He remembers being ‘good at picking up things’, drawing and Maths, as well as loving being physically active. As in many Indian households, his parents hoped their son would have a good and prosperous future, which included education and securing a stable job, Chermanna says. “According to many parents, the world is a volatile place, so sticking to a safe job is the best option. Although times are slowly changing, exploring uncharted ways and leading a more adventurous life isn’t always accepted over here. In that aspect, we still have a long way to go in India.”

Wrong direction
So as much as Chermanna wanted to explore other paths, he respected his parents’ wishes. Everything seemed perfect; academically, professionally and financially Chermanna didn’t have anything to complain about at all. Still, he was never truly happy and for many years he felt pulled between following his gut (“something about me always wanted to get my hands dirty out in the open”) and the life he was actually living. Chermanna says he has always loved helping people and enjoyed physical activities like mountaineering, so once in a while he would all of those things. “I would have these thoughts, saying Yes, this is what I need to do every day! but the next moment the comfort of my life, of getting paid regularly, of my mother’s cooking and my father being able to get me anything, overpowered me again.” Ten years went by and Chermanna realised he had hardly moved in the direction he wanted. And with that, he had not only created what you could call a strangely uncomfortable comfort zone for himself, but also for his parents. “My choices made them almost look down on every radical new thing I wanted to do, regardless of whether I was good at it. In my parents’ eyes, these were just impulsive ideas their son would have every now and then and they knew I would give in or forget about them sooner or later. For a long time, I held my father and mother responsible for the way I felt stuck between these different emotions, while liking my parents at the same time for the life I had. It all came down to the fact that I had not taken full responsibility for myself and my life.”
story continues under video

"It all came down to the fact
that I had not taken full
responsibility for myself
and my life”

Intuition
Chermanna says he almost hit rock bottom emotionally and physically before he finally decided drastic change was necessary. “Someone I loved dearly wasn’t around me anymore, I found myself in my worst situation at work, I felt physically down and was loosing muscle. On top of that I was in my thirties, so my parents were pressuring me to get married. During nightshifts I would cry my heart out in the empty office’s restroom.” But even during those moments of inner struggle and, finally, lots of introspection, Chermanna never felt like giving up. He says he has always been there for himself during the tougher times in his life. That characteristic and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner’s course he had taken after his mentor had suggested it, helped him while feeling so down. “The NLP thing is powerful. Not everything might connect right away, but once assimilated correctly, NLP triggers things at the right time. It helped me trust my intuition more and more. I knew if I didn’t change something at that moment, I would end up feeling dead inside. Which would be terrible for myself ánd for my parents.” So one evening in April, Chermanna wrote his resignation email. He remembers calling his father, who broke down in tears and asked why Chermanna was doing this to his parents. “I didn’t have an answer. Nor did I have a job anymore. All I had was a plane ticket to Turkey, to accompany a storyteller as a photographer-videographer, something I liked to do in my free time. I wanted to go, I needed the break badly and it turned out to be a life changing experience in itself. But that’s a whole other story.”
Find out more about what Chermanna Achappa does (and why he does it) next month.

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Chermanna Achappa

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