I have to preface this feature by saying that Varsha Vijayan is probably one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. The twenty minutes I spent in conversation with her was truly enlightening. As she spoke about herself, the one thing I understood about her was how she considered herself a work in progress. This feature took me a long time to write, and one of the reasons for that was my inability to separate myself from the article as I saw myself in her multiple times. It only makes sense to start this article with an allusion to Priya Kumar’s work, ‘I am another you.’
Varsha Vijayan is an up-and-coming content creator, primarily on Instagram, gaining traction for her socially evocative skits, her dance videos, informationals on self-care and for sharing her raw, authentic journey with the viewers. Prior to interviewing her, I took a few hours out of my day to simply go through her Instagram page and understand her content, and the first thing I learned about her is this, she is just like all of us. That was the confidence and the assurance with which I called her, and I am glad I got the opportunity to do so.
Varsha is the creator of the social initiative Difference-Make One, which she imagines ‘as a space where people can open up and speak about anything that is bothering them’. For her, social media platforms, especially the ones that are devoted to making a difference, are often niche, have a focus, and strive only towards that angle. However, we as human beings are equally complicated. We do not face one issue at a time, and Varsha demonstrates this through her page. Her profile is a personal letter to anybody who feels lost and alone. Her warmth and the splash of colours on the page remind each of us of one thing, we are all walking each other home, so it is okay to stop by and make someone’s day better.
When I asked her about her influences, she told me about her mother. As a creator, Varsha is a keen observer of humanity, and most of her skits are inspired by her mother and the conversations she has with her sister.
“I like observing people, what they do, how they behave, how they act in random situations. It fascinates me, the difference in the way in which multiple people behave in similar circumstances.”
She is also an avid lover of dance. After slowly gaining back momentum into a craft she was forced to abandon in exchange for academia, dance, according to Varsha, is ‘art in motion’. A trained classical dancer and an excellent artist, Varsha also spoke about a phenomenon that is familiar to all those who dabble in the field of fine arts – imposter syndrome and insecurity.
“Dance is liberating, it is movement, there is no speech involved at any point. The thing I have learnt about social media is how people have opinions about everything you do. I make a dance video, I look at it, and insecurity and imposter syndrome creep in gradually. I always think I could have done better.”
While Varsha Vijayan speaks about how much better she could have accomplished something, she is also a living reminder of doing the best you can and living in the moment. Dance, for Varsha, became a form of self-care. As a strong proponent of practising self-care, Varsha admits that the process of learning what it truly meant to her was a difficult one. Like the rest of us, in this digital era, we grow up consuming content that promotes self-care in the form of a massage, a facial or the gym. However, for her, it is more than just that. As Varsha herself says,
“I am slowly beginning to understand the nuances of self-care. And for me, the first step was to learn about myself. This is actually the difficult part, to intimately know yourself and the things that make you uncomfortable. I think I am truly privileged to be able to practice self-care. One of my favourite ways to do this is through mindfulness. I sit quietly, I allow myself to experience sensations. The way the wind touches my hair and the way something feels against my skin, all of that matters to me. I am essentially celebrating the fact that I am alive.”
While discussing the lessons she learned while creating content in the digital space, Varsha spoke about her NRI upbringing and how she feels dissociated from her own country and her language. Content creation for her is about self-satisfaction. While she appreciates and looks forward to constructive criticism, to be authentic, she had to create content that validates herself. What she reminds us, including me, as a writer, is that we are not here to please anybody. We create for ourselves, and people remain as mere observers. As Varsha claims,
“If you make the content you enjoy making, you’ll also find the people who will enjoy the things we make. That’s how you build a community.”
Varsha Vijayan is truly a work in progress, she is one among us and still chooses to live an extraordinary life. Her page is proof that it is not easy to be authentic, but she makes it seem almost seamless and effortless. As I parted with Varsha and said my goodbyes to her, I was reminded of Emily Dickinson’s poem, I dwell in possibility. Varsha indeed dwells in possibility, in fact, she is rewriting it.