Reinvention

Nothing else in my childhood stands out, except my passion for creation. 

By Niti Majethia

I was born and raised in Mumbai, India where I started writing poetry when I was 6 years old. I remember writing one of my first poems when I had a fever; it was all about how "hot" and "sleepy" I felt. Nothing else in my childhood stands out, except my passion for creation.

I remember tearing pages from my school notebooks and stapling papers together, and writing my stories and ideas down and pretending like I had my own published novels. My parents would take me to bookstores very often, because nothing else in the world would make me happier. And I'd always beg to stay there a little longer. Little did I know that someday I'd have accolades and my own books.

But it wasn't that simple. I was told that being a "writer" was always a "far-fetched" idea and that very few actually make a living through their words. My family, however, has been incredibly supportive from the very beginning. My parents' faith in me is what has helped me become the person I am today and I will always be eternally grateful to them.

I used to be pretty introverted. I was always so immersed in my own world that I forgot the real one even existed. My social awkwardness and shyness often made me aloof from the crowd. I stood out, in every sense. I was shy - you could've literally never imagined that I'd grow up to be an activist, someone known for her voice. I was also discouraged by my peers because they thought being a writer was "weird". But all the hate only pushed my intense drive to push myself creatively and to work harder. I would spend hours and hours reading, editing, writing, making things. I started sending my poems to my school's newsletter, and that was the first time I saw my name in print. I still remember squealing and jumping for joy. 

My passion would consume me. It still does. My parents didn't know any publishers, so I started spending hours on the internet researching magazines, publishers, journals, anything and everything. I must have emailed at least 250 to 300 professionals a day. In that process, I've gone through everything from rejection, sexism, ageism, you name it. Sometimes I got published, but quite often, I didn't.

I trained myself to take rejection well, to be patient, not lose hope. But I realize now that my thought process wasn't "When will I get my big break? When will people notice me? When will I become famous?" I was so young and innocent, and it worked to my advantage because I didn't have any concrete goal. I was just writing and sharing my work because that's what I was passionate about, and that's what I loved to do. Looking back now, I realize how unconditional my zeal for sharing my voice has been. I loved to do it, irrespective of what other people thought or said. It's this quality that gave me the resilience to rise, even after rejections knocked me down.

After a few years of hard work, my career took off. I was being published in a lot of magazines worldwide. I had won three international awards from Kidspirit magazine, an online teen magazine, and I was invited to New York University to present my work. I established an editorial board for Kidspirit in India with Indian teenagers working as editors for the magazine. In 2013, I was invited to the Uplift Festival in Australia to share my life story. I was also invited to write for an HBO documentary. I also wrote two books; my second book Eunoia is a collection of abstract poetry. I wanted my book to be truly authentic to my journey and my art.

My perspective about my career and the way I see the world has evolved greatly. I used to feel pressure to be perfect, to be outgoing and whatever it is that society considers "desirable". Today, I own up to my introverted personality during my childhood, my social awkwardness, my quirks. I want to normalize being flawed. I want to normalize being awkward, being imperfect. If I can publicly say, "This is me, I have my failings sometimes, and it doesn't make me weak - just human. And to all the girls out there that feel imperfect, know that it's okay to be imperfect. It's okay to be weird. It's okay to not fit in. It's okay to do what you want without giving a damn about what other people think or say," then maybe I am using my voice for good and setting an example. My experience with public speaking and meeting so many different type of people has shown me what's important. I am passionate about spreading mental health awareness, suicide prevention, preventing environmental damage, etc. My activism has taken me to so many places in the world and given me the opportunity to touch the lives of so many. I am forever indebted to the people, especially my parents, who believed in my dreams of becoming a writer.

I think being a young person trying to figure life out - you often tend to attract a lot of criticism and hate, especially when you want to stand up for what you believe in and do what you love. But I'm grateful for my critics as I am for my supporters because at the end of the day, they're all acknowledging my work in some way. you can never please everyone. All you can do is be you, and keep doing your best to make this world a better place and making your family proud. That's what matters the most.

My career has helped me discover various aspects of myself that I didn't even imagine could exist - for example, writing for film has helped me polish my craft and learn so much more about the movie world. I just joined a fashion publication because I'm so excited to see what that aspect of the art world has to offer.My aim is no longer to just be "a successful writer", it has more to do with exploring all the creative fields I'm interested in - and keep writing, creating, learning, growing and just giving back to the community in every way possible.

Of course, through all this, there were definitely a lot of challenges along the way.

I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, and I openly say that because I want young people out there to remember that making mistakes is so normal, human and even necessary, to an extent.

Getting into the University of Texas at Austin was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I absolutely love the school spirit, people and all the incredible opportunities this place has to offer. I've never felt more at home anywhere else. All my friends, social events, clubs, organizations, spirit groups and opportunities honestly make this the happiest place on earth. On campus, I try to be as involved as I can with organizations such as Texas Student Television and Spark magazine. I also want to meet as many new people as possible. I can't put into words what this university has given me, and I can't wait to give back to this community as I grow older.

Hook em' horns,

and the best is yet to come!

All photos are copyright

Niti Majethia is a sophomore rhetoric and writing student at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also the author of Eunoia, which you can check out here. Read her latest poetry on her Facebook and Instagram account.