I think part of the reason it took me so long to pursue journalism and creative writing professionally is because I never had anyone to look up to. As I child I devoured the classics like Amelia Bedelia, Junie B. Jones, and The Magic Tree House – books written by white authors for white children. While I was thoroughly entertained by the musings and adventures of Morgan le Fay and Captain Bones, I never imagined myself alongside those characters. There was a clear distinction between me and them.
As I grew older I discovered Maya Angelou, Lang Leav, and Rupi Kaur. Artists that look like me, think like me, and ultimately write like me. Above everyone, Rupi’s writing stuck with me. Her minimalist style coupled with sketch-like drawings somehow spoke volumes to my own experience as an Indian-American female. It felt like at one point, Rupi was just another brown girl writing poetry in her bedroom, pouring herself onto pages of a worn-out journal. Seeing another woman of color become so successful through her craft inspired me to continue writing poetry. I have Rupi’s pieces hanging on almost every wall of my bedroom as sources of encouragement and vision. They serve as reminders that there is room for Asian-American art in mainstream media.