Here's introducing a one-off a kind interview about aspirations and a teen's dream. It is important to bring up such stories on my platform to bring in change through empowerment of the youth. People like my today's guest, Risha, an aspiring author and change-maker, have the potential of changing the youth's views and motivation towards working on one's dreams. This reminds us that passion is not simply found, you have to hone it by experimenting with your interests. We discuss the youth in today's highly digitalized world and the importance of starting off with age-old methods to learn and grow, as basic as reading books- of course, in print!
Hi, do introduce yourself to the audience, tell us about your childhood, background, your inspiration to start your journey as a young author.
Hi! I am Risha Chaurasia, a 16 year old author, blogger and literature advocate from India. I published my first book Tales of Twinkling Tweens at the age of 11 which is a tween’s handbook through life and entails poems and articles and to-do activities. My second novel TRUCE: Novis Initiis was published at the age of 13 and is the story of 5 friends and their journey of self-discovery.
My blog on Instagram is @straight.from.my.pen and is a financial literacy blog, simplifying finance and economics for teenagers. Additionally, I work towards encouraging the habit of reading among the youth via events, panels and discussions.
Born on 2nd May to a family of finance professionals, I began reading from an early age and spent my childhood with a nose in a novel. My grandmother also used to narrate stories to me every time and it was this early interest and love for literature that got me into writing. I always dreamt of one day seeing my name on the cover page and with my family’s support this dream soon became a reality!
Is it necessary to start early on with your aspirations/interests?
While starting early definitely gives you an upper hand to your career, it is not a guarantor of success. Starting early just acts as an added advantage and puts you on a higher pedestal but one can definitely prosper without it as well. One must simply follow their heart and follow wherever it takes you.
I understand that not everyone finds their passion early on and it's completely alright to not start from an early age. What is important is working hard and doing what you love! So no, it’s not necessary to start off young.
Tell us a bit about your work.
My book Tales of Twinkling Tweens, published at age 11 is a book that touches various aspects of a tween’s life. It takes the readers through school experiences—teachers, relationships with friends, experiencing bullying, examination pressure, annoying habits of tween boys and girls, their complex emotions and embracing many changes they undergo. Tweenage is the most crucial stage between childhood and adulthood. It is turbulent as well as a fun time of life, which charters into unknown terrains of friendship, fun and pranks. It is a corpus of poems and articles written in my childhood and is a tween’s guidebook through life.
TRUCE: Novis Initiis is a novel of the contemporary world that explores the themes of self love, friendship, fun, and self discovery.
The story revolves around 5 protagonists-Tiya, Ron, Udit, Cayra, and Edi, with each one of them facing their own challenges.
The story takes you through them fighting against and uplifting themselves from the issues and blooming into confident young adults. And they don’t do this alone. They do this through the power of friendship and relationships.
The story beautifully portrays the reality of today’s youth and provides a fresh perspective to the reader. It’s all about finding the right people at the right time!
My blog, straight.from.my.pen is a financial literacy blog that simplifies complex economic and financial concepts for teens!
Tell us about your upcoming projects, if you please!
All I can say about my 3rd novel is that it’s going to be a traditional Indian high school drama dealing with love, friendship and betrayal. It’s a story where two best friends don't fall in love.
Does today’s gen-z or the previous generations provide you inspiration for your work?
The primary inspiration for my work comes from my own experiences as I like to keep my stories real and raw. I always had big dreams and ambitions and did not shy away from working for them. My biggest source of motivation is my family, especially my mom who inspires me to keep writing and working hard.
I believe that the Gen-Z are a self motivated generation and also a hard working one.
What is the general youth’s mentality/mindset these days? How much do you think the youth has evolved over the past few years? And should there be any changes to their current mindset for the betterment of the future?
The youth has evolved greatly, and with easier and increased access to all kinds of information, the advent and prevalence of social media have made us a more distracted generation. Gen-Z today lead a life as if for social media and are greatly influenced by it, a trait not seen in the previous generations.
The youth today are more vocal and open about their issues and more aware and well informed. They do not shy away from speaking up about stigmatized issues and take a stand to get what they want. They have strong beliefs and we are an opinionated generation who deserve a seat at the table.
If teenagers today can get rid of the addiction of social media and can free themselves from the shackles of seeming ‘cool’ or ‘perfect’ we would be invincible. The youth must begin living for happiness not social media.
Do you think the youth today gets influenced easily? How so?
Yes, the youth is easily and deeply influenced by social media. Proof of which is the ever growing number of influencers and the social media market. We are all encouraged to hop on the latest trends, own the trendiest fashion, and live a perfect Instagram worthy lifestyle, all influenced by social media.
Youth today is also more likely to succumb to peer pressure. I believe that a right company/circle of people matters the most when growing up. While you'll thrive and grow with the right people, you will be destroyed by the wrong ones. With a growing pressure to fit in, the youth is getting influenced towards substances, an alarming concern.
What is your most opinionated topic regarding the youth today? Anything that is overrated/underrated about gen-z?
A misconception about Gen-Z is that we are lazy and shy away from hard work which couldn't be farther from the truth. I know so many young changemakers and authors and professionals who put their heart and soul into their work.
The youth today is also regarded as a thankless and cold generation, wherein in reality we are loving and caring. Gen-Z hide their emotion, not lack them.
Gen-Z should also be appreciated for their hunger for living and the spontaneity and creativity that is abundant in our generation. We believe in living life to the fullest and also prioritize ourselves and our mental health.
How do you think today’s youth can be more productive? As Indian youths, what kind of conversations should they be having more these days? Any major concerns for the generation from your POV?
The biggest is SOCIAL MEDIA and the toxic standards of beauty and living that they set. Teenagers, especially girls, today deal with a plethora of body image, confidence and mental health issues just because of the feeling of not being good enough. There is a dire need of conversation regarding beauty standards, the ‘perfect life’ , the so called ‘teenage dream’ and the impact social media has on nascent minds.
The youth must learn to separate their online and offline lives and spend time away from gadgets and phones. Being a teen myself, I understand how tough it is but we must exercise restraint. We could journal, mediate, get in touch with our true selves, read and educate ourselves and spend time alone or with our families.
The only barrier to productivity is social media and the one who masters control, controls the world.
Some habits we as a generation must start inculcating, anything you yourself would like to inspire others with, any message to be left behind through your work for the youth?
As youth we are increasingly careful about our diets and lifestyles and Gen-Z ideally should lead a better and a healthier life. One habit that all of us must inculcate is READING. Reading is a gift of God and has the ability to change and build lives. It helps us grow as a person, learn and improve and there are countless benefits of reading. To be global citizens we must be learners. And to be learners we must be readers.
Lastly, what are your future plans to spread positivity, encourage the youth and their abilities via your unique work?
I plan on publishing my 3rd novel, beginning a podcast, donating and working with NGOs, running workshops and programs to guide teen authors. There is still so much that I need to achieve and I am working for it everyday!
Sneak-peek from my 3rd novel
Anything else you want to add?
As a parting remark, I’d like to remind the Gen-Z that you are enough. You are beautiful. I’d advise them to work hard, have the courage to dream, and always believe in themselves and their capabilities.