It’s a funny thing trying to describe yourself on the internet. Should I use an online dating profile-esque introduction? Should I be more formal like an author excerpt in a book? Or I could just blabber on and on in a stream of consciousness kind of way! Either way, I am still going to be that 20-something millennial who is trying to make her way in this world. Trying to find out exactly where it is I belong and how I am able to contribute to the world around me. And I’m hoping to do so with FindShiviBee.
Current Location: Dubai, UAE.
I have always enjoyed reading and writing, but I have not always engaged in both especially not at the same time. In different phases of my life so far both have come to hand for particular reasons when I needed them. Both of them building my safety net to help me discover parts of myself.
Reading is what got me through elementary school and high school. My genre preference was (and still is) fiction. Any kind of fiction. Historical fiction, romantic fiction, coming-of-age fiction, fantasy worlds and make believe, mystery, thriller. I read it all. Because I loved getting lost in a world that was different from mine. I come from a very loving family, but a simply family who really worked hard for the meals that were put on our table every day and the things we are given. In a small income family I was lucky to be “spoiled”. Not spoiled in the traditional sense of getting opportunities handed to me on a silver platter, nor did every opportunity come easily to me. But spoiled by love and affection. If there is one thing about my childhood I am sure of it is that despite ups and downs, I was given a lot of love from my family and my family let me be who I wanted to be. And who I wanted to be was a quiet wallflower with her nose in a book. I didn’t feel comfortable in the real world, I felt comfortable in fictional worlds – and so, I wanted to stay in fictional worlds. My parents never let there be an end to the books available in the house and for that I am grateful. Because of the endless amounts of books I had access to (from bookstores, and libraries and thrift stores) I developed my love for make believe. As I grew up and got busy with trying to get into university and then my Master’s and then working, the number of books I consumed annually dropped significantly – but the stories I have read and loved are still with me to this day. And I still keep those lessons alive as much as I can.
Writing on the other hand was a selective activity for me, and came out through different mediums. I was never a journal/diary writer and that was also not for lack of trying. Growing up I had so many thoughts, so many questions, so much anger and confusion inside me, and I was also told that journalling would help me organize that chaos into structure. I think in an attempt to convince myself that I could be a Journalling Queen, I must have purchased over 30 beautiful notebooks of different sizes and colours growing up. On the first page of each of them I would begin to pen, “Dear diary…” in my neatest script, and the first page would be a rambling mess of all of the thoughts in my head at that moment. I would explore themes such as love and loss, loneliness, isolation, bullying, confusion, family, fear of not having or losing my family, expression of thoughts, and so many more topics that were really quite heavy for an 11-year old kid. This accumulation of diaries continued well into high school and even into my early University years when I thought I would become a secret writer who would pen the great Canadian novel as a child of an immigrant – how did she end up here. Of course, that didn’t pan out. But this time it could have been for lack of trying. I didn’t want to share my story. I was scared. For so many years I had trained myself to stay away from the culture I grew up in, I told myself I didn’t want to identify a certain way because I didn’t feel comfortable in my surroundings if I did. I didn’t feel safe. Physically I was safe, the bullying never really got physical, but it was mental and emotional and had been with me my whole life. It’s not an easy topic to write about and kudos to the people who are brave and strong enough to relieve their past long enough to put it on paper and watch it go under scrutiny of the people around them. It is not easy and it is purely strength that brings that out in someone.
So if not every day journalling, then where did I actually use writing to help myself?
My creativity used to come out in writing assignments in school and in university in the form of creative writing pieces and my research papers and essays. They don’t sound all that glamorous but a number of the papers I have written have actually helped me explore some of the questions or weird topics that I have come across as I experience life. After uncovering my passion for psychology and chemistry in high school, I explored quite a shocking topic psychopathy from different lenses. In my high school social science class we needed to write a creative short story about someone with a mental illness – I chose to write about psychopathy from a victim’s perspective. In university when I pursued neuroscience and mental health on a more academic level, I explored psychopathy in normaI life – how the high achievers around us tend to express psychopathic traits (while not necessarily actually being psychopaths). In business school I took a chance and actually wrote a more in-depth paper on psychopathy in CEOs and successful business leaders – it was a bold move, but it was also one that gave me an opportunity to present my paper to a panel of business academics in an academic conference here in the UAE.
But how does all of this tie to fantasy?
While the papers I’ve mentioned have a specific tone to them, given my interests in neuroscience and mental health, I can understand why someone who have a hard time bridging the gap between my love for reading fantasy and for enjoying the art of writing. No I don’t have a keenness for writing about psychopaths in particular, these just happen to be a few of the pieces that have stood out not just to me but to the readers around me. In reality, to write something interesting to others, especially a larger scale audience, you need to understand the element of fantasy – event as an amateur. I am in no way a professional writer, nor even an amateur, I just write and try and hope for the best. Something I learned in university and use on a daily basis in my current job in an FMCG in the Middle East, is that people learn and remember salient details. Basically most people will remember and interesting story or a fun anecdote more so than a list of figures and facts. So bringing in the element of fantasy…or imaginative storytelling is what helps drive impact. Make an impact by making what you have to say interesting to your audience. And that’s what I am exploring here with the FindShiviBee blog, the art of digital storytelling – finally taking a chance to tell my story.