“If you don’t fall, if you don’t fail, you’re not going to learn” – Ankita Magdani, Therapist

25 October 2022
Neha Jain Written by Neha Jain
Neha Jain

Neha Jain

Neha is a freelance writer passionate about providing well-researched and empathetic mental...

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Growing up in Bombay, even at the tender age of 6, Ankita Magdani knew she wanted to fly and explore the world. It was a longstanding dream of hers. Her father, supportive of her passion, bought Ankita her first flight ticket. Though he never got to see Ankita on her first flight, his loss only strengthened her conviction to pursue her dream. She believed her father’s last action, buying her a flight ticket, was his way of telling her that he supported her plan. 

Ankita became a flight attendant, flying through cities and traveling the world.

Yet, after 14 years of being a flight attendant, Ankita changed careers. She wanted to become a therapist. And some dreams do come true. Based in Dubai, Ankita is now a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and career and mindset coach. With a private practice at Mapping Thoughts, Ankita is also a Career Coach at Kingston University and a psychologist at Plumm. She is also part of the Reviewer Board at MyndStories.

From flying the skies to understanding the human mind

Changing careers at any age is demanding, but it is more challenging at 30 when people around you are settling down in their lives. Yet, Ankita took this step for her health and peace. The change, however, wasn’t as easy as she had thought. “I was really scared. Somewhere within my mind, I knew it was time. I was sick and not as healthy as I should be. But I still wasn’t willing to take that step. It required a lot of therapy and coaching to accept that I needed a change. I had been so passionate about my career and had never thought I would reach a point where I wouldn’t be passionate about it. I remember sitting with my coaches and my therapist and crying. It’s not like I didn’t know I would change my career eventually. Growing up, I always knew my second career was going to be a therapist. But it was hard to accept that I would lose the motivation in the career I had loved.”  

Difficult as those times were, hitting rock bottom gave Ankita renewed strength to pursue her new dreams. “I reached a breaking point where I was deeply meditative. All I could hear was ‘just do it.’ You see, once you hit rock bottom, nothing worse can happen. I was still scared. But at the same time, I was thrilled and curious about the future. There was huge excitement to step into the unknown.” Traveling is Ankita’s life. And the fact that her career change did not eliminate that part completely comforted her. From traveling the world to traveling inside herself, she never stopped.

“I’m still traveling, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. I am traveling the world inside myself and have found it to be a beautiful journey.”

Her advice for people changing their careers is to just do it. “It’s now or never. Don’t let anything stop you. You’re gonna fall; you’re gonna rise, you’re gonna fail, you’re gonna rise. And that’s a part of life. That’s how it’s supposed to be. If you don’t fall, you will not learn. So embrace failure,” says Ankita.

The influence of family and different experiences

Ankita comes from a family of healers, with many of her family members involved in one or the other kind of healing practice. Yet, she was never inclined toward that path. So, choosing psychology in class 11th was a happy accident for her. “I was awful at academics. And everybody used to believe that I would grow up to be a useless person. While choosing my stream in class 11th, I refused to study math or science. So ultimately, I chose Arts with Home Science. That’s where I first studied psychology. Eventually, I ended up taking it in college. Psychology was the only subject that I did well in, even without studying. I was so good at it that I also started to tutor my fellow college mates.”

While loving psychology was a surprise, her traumas and experiences also strengthened her conviction to help others with their mental health. As a therapist, Ankita’s research and training are fueled by her desire to understand and help people. She got married at a young age, and that marriage was physically and mentally abusive. Living in India, where divorce is still stigmatized, peer and societal pressures only added to the trauma of getting divorced. “After my divorce, I lost my integrity. I realized how hard it was to say no, enforce my boundaries, and stand up for myself. For six years of that marriage, I was alone. I reached this point where I just wanted to quit. As much as I had my family’s support, at that moment, it didn’t feel like support; it felt more like pressure. But my life was still moving fast. Being a flight attendant, you don’t know where your days are going. So I never got to grieve about my divorce or my father’s death.”

Ankita Magdani

Moving on was challenging because Ankita never allowed herself to process her grief. “Because I never grieved, the anxiety and loneliness hit me when I was living my best life. On the surface, and in essence, everything was good for me. My career was at its peak, and I was married to someone I loved. Yet, the loneliness hit, and I lost my confidence. Something inside me was so closed and empty that I couldn’t understand. I don’t regret or hate all that has happened. I am the person I am because of those traumas and experiences. Without them, I wouldn’t be in the position to help people. Because as cliche as it sounds, I have been there, and I’ve gotten myself out. If I can bring myself out, I am confident I can help others get out too.”

Ankita seeks satisfaction in her clients’ successes. “Every time a client walks out of my door, having that breakthrough moment, I know that something’s happened. I don’t need to hear compliments or feedback from them. I can see it on their face and their way of talking.”  

Seeking satisfaction from what you do should be the goal

Comparing the two professions, Ankita says, “As a flight attendant, the older you get, the more difficult it is for you to continue your journey. But as a therapist, the older I get, the more vintage I become. People will cherish my journey and experiences. So the older I get as a therapist, the younger I am.” 

Her strategy for dealing with complex and uncooperative clients is straightforward.

“Initially, I used to question myself and my methods. But soon, I realized I can take the horse to the water, but I cannot make them drink it. So now, after I realize a client is difficult, I ask them one question- are you ready for a change? If they say no, I tell them to come back whenever they are willing to change.”

Her plans going forward involve reaching a larger audience. “If things go well, I plan to open a holistic center, which provides items such as meditation, therapy, and psychology together. A one-shot, one-stop-shop, that’s what I want to build. Any person seeking any treatment, from Ayurveda to hypnotherapy, to counseling, to CBT, can come to that place and look for options of achieving their healing,” says Ankita. 

Ankita’s steps have never faltered in pursuit of her dream to fly, be it in the skies or on the ground. 

MyndStories also spoke to Ankita on the MyndStories Podcast. You can catch Ankita Magdani’s podcast here