Unapologetically Enthusiastic: The Origins of Newfound Confidence

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I remember squirming in a squishy red seat as my uncle prodded my thirteen-year-old mind to give up information about my contemporary creative endeavors. “Uhh, I started a blog, I guess?” I pulled up the website on his phone. “It’s nothing much.” I also remember the inward mortification when he said he would follow and share it in the family group chat. “I mean, sure. I guess.”

Growing up, my pastimes included painting poster boards and writing novels into the wee hours of the morning. I had a tight group of friends (mostly made of individuals that went to different schools), and I often bounced my ideas off of them, sent photos of my projects to them, and collaborated with them. My blog was one of the few things I shared with my family; even so, my heart would pound and my palms would sweat every time I offered up thewordyandnerdy.com as a diversion from my story outlines and character sketches. 

Wordy&Nerdy has been with me since my freshman year of high school back in 2013. It’s the public interface for what I scratch into my journal pages and the margins of my school notes. In its earliest stages, I used the platform to track and share my project progress, often without sharing the actual projects. As I grew braver, I began experimenting with opinion posts, sketchbook snapshots, travel documentaries, and more. 

I didn’t go out of my way to share anything, though. I cringed when friends would stumble on the Instagram account I connect to my blog, and I never share posts on my Facebook timeline. I deeply admire my friends who spread their work within their close circles, but I usually shy away from sharing my own unless directly asked. I feared being seen as conceited, and I constantly doubted if I should even be prideful of my work.

In my senior year of high school, some folks in the school paper found out and wrote a feature about Wordy&Nerdy that made me hyper-conscious of how people perceive it. She’s doing it for the resume. All she talks about is stuff she makes. Does she even make anything real? She’s just trying to be artsy. There’s no real substance. 

Shortly after I wrote about my name and my identity, I opened a text from an uncle: “Shared your article with grandparents. Circulating it through family group chat. You should go respond to all the comments.”

My heart plummeted into my stomach, sitting there like a thirty-pound dumbbell. My gigantic extended family of all ages overseas and around the entire world peering into my tiny, privileged Indian-American experiences? No, no, no, why? Why did you do that? I hadn’t even sent the piece to my mom. Dread overwhelmed my senses as I responded to my uncle. “Sounds good, thanks.” 

I began scrolling.

“Lovely work! … Keep up the good work, keep writing … Reflective, mature, wise beyond your years…"

My heart sputtered and started to climb back into my chest, but I still felt a sense of hollowness. It’s just empty praise, obligatory family pride, they don’t really understand, they’re talking behind my back about it… I appreciated the praise but still felt exposed in a way I wasn’t sure I liked very much; However, after some of my similarly raised cousins approached me with relief that their parents finally realized that Indian-American angst does indeed exist, I embraced the new vulnerability. 

Putting my work online taught me to take ownership of what I make, from strong opinions to emotional stories to my previously terrible writing that still remains up on the internet; though the blog’s beginning stages prove embarrassing to this day, I never remove them to remind myself how much I’ve changed. I now strive to be thoughtful with words, reflective of my existence, and unapologetic in creating—especially when it comes to confronting what I may be scared to reveal about myself.

“So what have you been working on lately?” A friend from the art class I took a few semesters back asks when I bump into her in the student center. I think about my ever-growing to-do list, fresh canvases, and journal pages waiting to be explored. 

I smile and tell her all about it.

By Arya Natarajan

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