Today we’d like to introduce you to Nisha Mody.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For most of my life, I have struggled to find “the one,” and I’m not talking romantically. I’m not sure if it’s American culture or my curiosity about everything, but I always wanted to find my true passion. I went to college and tried to find the perfect major – I double majored in Communication Studies and Cognitive Science because I loved learning about how people communicate and how the mind creates thoughts and language. Though, I struggled to find a perfect job, though these skills are ubiquitous for most professions. My first career out of college was an IT consultant. I didn’t really like the corporate world, and I wanted to help others. The best way I thought I could do this was to help others find jobs.
Even though I always felt a little lost, I always enjoyed helping people tune up their resumes and figure out their career direction, so I became an IT recruiter. This was on the sales side, which wasn’t my preference, though I learned a lot of helpful skills. I grew quite sick of the corporate world. Everyone had always told me how much they enjoyed the sound of my voice, so I thought I could try doing voiceover work. I did enjoy this and booked a few gigs, but I realized that I’m a nerd at heart. I don’t know how this happened exactly, but I started looking into become a speech therapist/language pathologist. I figured this combined my love of language, the brain, and helping other people. I was also about to get married, and I saw that it was a job that was always in demand and flexible, in case I wanted to start a family.
I went back to school to get my master’s degree in 2009, the same year I got married. After graduate, I worked in a private practice, school, nursing home, and a hospital – basically any setting you could work in as a speech-language pathologist. I started realizing that I liked the idea of helping others in this way, but I felt very limited by systems. The school system focused upon knowledge that didn’t address emotional needs or social equity. The hospital system just seemed to want to cycle people through the system. I discovered how health insurance was so problematic and inaccessible for those who needed it. I realized that I needed to have a career that focused on inclusivity, equity, and social justice.
At the same time, my marriage started to fall apart. I realized that while I liked the principles related to speech-language pathology, its flexibility drew me in because I thought I wanted a family. I started to realize that this wasn’t as important to me as I began to navigate a divorce. I felt like I was back to the drawing board, and while I re-contemplated my “true passion,” I started to write creative non-fiction/memoir. I had my first piece titled “Grass-Fed Hindu” published in November 2014, shortly after my divorce. I got such a high from crafting words together, editing them, and getting published. So in my search for the next best career, I discovered one of my passions, writing. I thought about getting my MFA in Creative Writing, but the immigrant kid in me couldn’t handle not having a stable job. I realized my other passion was, and still is, helping people, especially those who are marginalized. As a woman of color, and a recent divorcee, I started to see how my toxic marital relationship was violent in many ways. And this type of intimate partner violence, whether emotional or physical, disproportionately affects women, especially women of color.
I started thinking about how I loved helping others discover information about equity and in general, which brought me to librarianship. I returned to school again to get my Masters in Library and Information Science, and I have worked as a librarian for three years while also pursuing writing, starting a podcast, and a coaching business!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has and hasn’t been smooth. While I am a woman of color and a child of immigrants, I grew up relatively middle class. I never feared that I wouldn’t have food to eat. While my parents were strict, I didn’t feel that I was in danger in my home. I’m also a cisgender heterosexual woman, so this has many things more smooth for me than others. So in many ways, I have been quite privileged.
Though I have had struggles. I have struggled with perfectionism most of my life – I always wanted to be the smartest, know exactly what I wanted to do, find the “one” passion, the “one” husband. And I still struggle to enjoy the process instead of trying immerse myself in the process. I think my biggest recent struggles were my marriage which ended in divorce shortly after the unexpected death of my father. I was in an eight years relationship where I was gaslit and subjected to emotional and physical trauma and abuse. This forced me to reflect upon my own upbringing and expectations of being an obedient Indian woman. It brought me to therapy, which, besides getting a divorce, was one of the best decisions of my life. At the same time, I experienced these tremendous male losses within a year. But I think these losses made me more independent as a woman. I realized that the only validation I needed to move forward in my life was my own.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
While I work full-time as a librarian, I also work as a creative through writing, coaching, and podcasting. I write memoir and personal essays, and I have been published in The Times of India, The Rumpus, Greatist, and Zora Magazine. However, while I am proud to have been published in these amazing publications, I’m most proud that I created a creative writing habit. While I do think that talent helps any creative person, I believe it is habit and consistency that creates true beauty. I know it sounds simple, but the more you do something, the better you get at it. I try to remind myself of this principle when I struggle to get to the page.
I also recently started a Creative Coaching business for Asian womxn. I struggled with overachieving and perfectionism due to the idea of being in the model minority. I noticed that the people that reached out to me the most after reading my work were Asian womxn. Many of them also struggled with toxic relationships or expectations to be obedient or high achieving. So, for now, I offer one-on-one coaching on a limited basis to address any difficulties related to creating boundaries and dealing with pressures from Asian immigrant parents, moving past creative blocks, and navigating traumatic relationships.
My latest creation is a podcast called MigrAsians. In this podcast, I interview creative and political Asians and talk to them about how their story of migration informs their work. So this can be their own story, their parents, or other family/friends. I have truly enjoyed interviewing others, though I do have some solo episodes. I feel like I am able to create a dialogue and story in a different way, and it is really fun to explore this medium.
While these endeavors seem disparate in terms of modality, they all weave stories, explore emotional resilience, and dive into the Asian immigrant experience. And I feel that I can serve the world by sharing these stories and relating them to larger societal systems.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I know this might sound boring, but habit. Like I said before, having creative talent is important, but what keeps you going is work and habit. There are times that I have to review a podcast recording or start writing a piece, and the main motivator is that there is a deadline. Even though I want to do this work, it can be overwhelming to start. What helps is to keep doing things, even if they seem overwhelming because 99 times out of 100, I am always grateful that I started. As for that one other time, I probably should have just taken that nap. 🙂
- $295 a month for Creative Coaching
- Website: www.nishaland.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @_nishamody_
- Twitter: @nishamody
All non-text photos by George Davison