I was 13 when I first discovered the world of internet. It was a hushed introduction during a long-lost summer vacation when I and my cousin quietly sneaked into my uncle's office to find his computer unattended. Grabbing the opportunity, my ever-brave cousin took on the responsibility of letting me in on a secret portal of Yahoo Messenger. "You can meet new people here, it's fun", she smugly told me. It was a reckless thing to do for two teens, but curiosity led us to act recklessly. In hindsight, it was careless of two teen girls to entangle themselves in the world of a public chat room service. But things were different back then, no harm was caused whatsoever and fortunately, that fun lasted no longer than a handful of summers.
Meanwhile, I was mesmerised by the deep dive of the internet and digital realm. It had so much to offer, more than the encyclopedia I was gifted on my 10th birthday. I signed up myself on Goodreads and would virtually shelf my favourite books into different categories under the My Books page, I would rate and leave reviews too. All hell broke loose once I learnt the mechanics of online ordering, a new book would arrive every week and I would stack them onto the study shelf.
Years have gone by, I have relocated several times and now live miles away from home, but the books still stand there, some yellowed, some pages scattered on the ends reminding me of the simpler times. A Kindle lies on my work table now, travelling with me when I return home to my old bookshelf.
How Digital Growth Fuelled My Professional Dreams
The Internet also helped harness my love for storytelling in numerous ways. I found out about my favourite storyteller and spoken-word poet Sarah Kay through YouTube, many hours were spent listening to her recite 'If I Should I Have a Daughter'. As a chain reaction, I googled many more poets and heard many storytellers. Through them, I learnt how diverse the art of poetry could be, they need not be linear, they can be chaotic yet vulnerable enough to be heard. I wanted to be just like that. I wanted people to hear me out.
When I moved to Mumbai for higher studies, one of my many goals was to get on stage and speak my heart out. But lack of self-esteem held me back. The best way to build an outlet for myself was to start a blog, and so I did. I blogged my thoughts on everything. On friendships, love, the idea of home, being away from home and so much more. My poems found a way and an audience through the virtual world.
To expand my view on storytelling, I enrolled in several internships. I was fortunate enough to gain guidance from mentors who shared the same love for stories. I was encouraged to step out of my comfort and bring stories of changemakers. While journalism school taught me about 5Ws and 1H for news reportage, films and storytellers asked me to follow the rules of a beginning, middle and end. And so I continued to do so, in all of my jobs spread across the digital realm.
It's been close to seven years since I started working, but I try to weave storytelling in all of my professional pursuits. I learnt through experience that good stories help incite change and, sometimes, make a difference. I have changed jobs, moved cities and still continue to seek stories of change and inspiration.
Views expressed by the author are their own
Suggested Reading - Janice Pariat: Women Need The Space To Tell Their Own Stories