From Dreamer to Influencer: Meet Niharika Choudhary, the 20-Year-Old Influencing Thousands!
When it comes to changing the world, we can learn a thing or two from the youngest, for wisdom can be projected even in milk teeth.
I grew up near a small city called Sirsa in Haryana, where I spent most of my childhood. Villages have a whole different charm about them, don’t they? People today pay to experience village life, and I was one of the lucky ones to have been brought up there.
I was and still am the rather rebellious and naughty one in my family. I absolutely loved being the leader and having my own voice wherever I felt it was right. I like to think I inherited that from my father, who I really look up to for inspiration, guidance, and of course, mischief!
Unlike many families, our dinner conversations included our highlights of the day and, most importantly, the issues we observed around us or something intriguing we read in the newspaper that day. So, being aware of current affairs and having an opinion of my own became a habit, which has blossomed into my passion today.
I Became My Surroundings
Transparency was an integral part of my life growing up. My family shared everything with each other and never hesitated to have important conversations. Those conversations are what have led me to what I am doing today.
Both my parents are active social workers, and I grew up accompanying them to various charity drives, which ingrained in me the voice to stand up for what’s important. Inspired, I started ‘The Shoonya Project’ with my friends. Advocating the importance of mental health, we encouraged people to come ahead and talk about mental health in poems or write ups that we would feature on our page. It was a way to make people feel heard and sensitize the issue.
In 2021, like thousands of other students in the country, I was left to wonder whether the class 12 CBSE Board exams would be conducted physically or not. I was frustrated by the fact that everyone was discussing it, but no one was doing anything about it. That was when I was approached by an organization that asked me if I could share my opinions on the examinations, and I had a lot to say.
I sent them a video and got featured in their compiled video, along with many other students stating their concerns. I had originally recorded a 15-minute video where I touched upon many things that I thought needed to be considered. I wanted to get the word out. My Instagram had around 1500 followers, which wasn’t many, but I was going to do it anyway.
In hopes that it would reach a bigger audience and maybe some authorities who could do something about the issue, I posted the video online. To my astonishment, the video did reach a large audience, and it did reach where my voice could be amplified further. The Hindustan Times featured my video on their platform. It all happened because I decided to act.
After the feature, content creation became a part of my life, and I started amplifying social and political issues through my Instagram page. I started off with the motive to impact at least one person, and today, I have a support base of over 68,000 people who appreciate my work every single day.
Following that, I was named a Center for Civil Society scholar, and I was featured in The Quint, The New Indian Express, radio stations like 92.7 Big FM, and various podcasts. Recording with the radio was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I was the biggest fan of the radio as a kid, but being interviewed wasn’t something I had anticipated. You have to keep in mind that people can’t see you, so you have to be expressive. Plus, when you are addressing a sensitive issue, you need to make sure to say everything on your mind but still be tactful with the words you use to avoid offending anyone.
Change; let me be it! was my first Spotify podcast with the Not Just a Kid Podcast. The podcast was all about being the change you want to see in the world. The podcast made me rethink my purpose because we like to believe we are a lot of things, but the true potential of the idea comes around only when you try to justify your beliefs. The podcast made me revisit my motivation for change and tested my loyalty towards it.
Learning = Opportunities
As a UPSC aspirant, I believe learning is the only way we can bring about a positive change in today’s world. We cannot live in blissful ignorance when the world around us suffers. I stay on my toes, keeping myself up to date with the world and creating the right influence with my passion for public speaking.
I have been an active participant in different global-level leadership programmes that focus on youth leadership. I was also given the opportunity to be one of the panelists at the Skills Reform Platform, which is a career counselling platform. They conduct different conclaves where students from around the globe talk about world issues. I was a part of the discussion of the repercussions of online learning throughout the world. Opportunities like these not only allow you to expand your network with people all over the world, but they also provide you with insights into various perspectives on the same issue and how they affect everyone differently.
I often get subjected to criticism about how a 20-year-old shouldn’t be talking about politics. I beg to differ because if I am wise enough to vote for the leader of the country, I am also wise enough to have an informed opinion about world politics.
I once heard someone say, ‘Everybody wants a cake, but nobody wants to bake it.’ It is a hard-hitting truth. It is time for us young people to choose to bake the cake and take charge of the future. Now is when the world needs us the most!
Exclusively written for Giving for Good Foundation by Bhairavi Hiremath.