Meet Ishita Katyal, an 11 years old Author & Motivational speaker. Ishita is the youngest TEDx Youth organizer in the Asia-Pacific region. Ishita is one of the youngest Author’s in India and was also featured in the Child Magazine as one amongst the 8 Child Prodigies in India. She is a student of Vibgyor Highschool Pune. Ishita organised the first TEDx event in her school on February 7, 2015. She delivered a talk, titled “What do you want to be now”, at the TED Youth conference in New York in November 2015. Aged ten at the time, she was the youngest Indian to speak at the conference. Her 2015 TEDxYouth@Balewadi team event featured 3 very nice speaker talks around making things easier for people through use of technology. She believes there is so much out there in the environment for young people to get inspired, imagine new things and start doing something creative at an early age. Ishita says that a child should not stop experimenting to do what they want to do in life and they should not wait to be an adult to follow their passion.
Ishita has spoken at the prestigious global TED Conference in Vancouver, TEDYouth in New York, TEDxGateway, NASSCOM, Toastmasters & REX conclive events etc. Ishita emphasizes the message that all parents have a responsibility to help their children in discovering their creative interests and motivating them to spend time without fear in whatever they want to make. Not only this, this young gem has yet more achievements in her closet.
Ishita has also been facilitated with 2015 Sakhi Samman award from Lokmat and REX Karmaveer Chakra Award and REX Global Fellowship 2014-15. She likes to write, dance, sing and loves to play basketball. Apart from this, she is an avid reader and digs into Sudha Murthy and Ruskin Bond in her free time. She is author of “Simran’s Diary” which she wrote only at an age of 8.
In conversation with Ishita:
Q: How did you crack the TED Youth event at NewYork. Tell us something about this journey of your’s?
The most important thing for me was to believe in myself and stay positive. I had to make sure that no negative vibes or too much of anxiety came in my way. I had two friends Chelsey and Martha who were also two young speakers at the Ted Youth NewYork. We were practicing our talks and doing physical thrills together. It was a really great experience which helps me in my talks and writings even today as well.
Q: Your speech at TED Youth NewYork is the one that inspires everyone today. You truly made a difference with it. Tell us something more about it?
My talk was a lot about how in today’s busy world we forget about our beautiful present and what’s going on in the real world around us. It was also about how young people are contributing and doing soo much for the world already and I put across many ideas but I had to make sure that the talk doesn’t goes over bored. The audience doesn’t get bored. Because this kind of opportunity is not given to everyone and I had to make sure not to waste it & use it properly.
Q: How did you prepare for that speech? Any difficulty that you came through while delivering the speech in front of the huge audience, without even looking once at the paper? How did you overcome them?
The main thing for me was being confident. Because If I wouldn’t have been confident enough then It would have been really hard, really difficult to even just go up on the stage. And I just kept writing all of my ideas down because writing usually works for me better than reading when it comes to my talks. It’s a quick fact,” Writing something is equivalent to reading it 8 times” so I was obviously a bit nervous but my friends Chelsy and Martha who were also speaking at the event told me to just stretch. We had this great bonds so we just sat in a circle and shared our thoughts with each other, as if we were on the stage. We just stood up on the hotel beds and look straight in the eye with each other and just shared our ideas and that made me feel really comfortable. So One main thing is also to just go to someone whom you trust and tell them to just write those points down where they feel like you are going down or you are not confident enough, you are not modulating your voice, and stuffs like that and one last thing that I would do right before my talk is to say yes to myself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be like really loud but I have to just say “Yes” and as if your talk has gone really well and that makes you feel really happy. Its ok if you don’t get a standing ovation but the biggest thing you can get is your talk should go well without getting panicked and with people appreciating your work.
Q: How confident do you feel after that? What changes in people’s behaviour came up after that?
I felt really optimistic and positive after getting so much of appreciation from everyone but I had to remind myself to stay grounded. The change in behavior was majorly from my friends, the community and my teachers. Partiality, Jealousy, Rumors were just some things that did occur but I had to remind myself that life can’t be perfect so these things will come in your way. Before I gave this talk and several other talks the community always talked that speaking and writing will not be a really major career. They did know it could be a good career but they did not know that it can get the appreciation like I got. The talk not only proved them wrong but also made them support me in my ideas. And of course when it comes to teachers, they gave me a bit more attention and many more students in my school wanted to be friends with me. But I just feel like I am very particular when it comes to who I share my time with. But if someone was positive and was genuinely a friend, I definitely didn’t say no to them but I did think twice before I trust someone because you know, people may take you for granted as well so you need to be very careful.
Q: Landing up with a number of beautiful books, so how did it all start at such a tender age?
Since a very early age, I loved to observe & notice that when you read and write, you go into such a beautiful world of thoughts and you feel so amazing. I fell in love with the world of imagination that is formed while reading and writing. This love did make my passion for writing grow a lot and so in my free time, I wrote. I wrote so much that it just turned out to be a story which was appreciated by so many people and that made us turn this story into a book.
Q: What are the other initiatives you wish to work on in future? What are your other hobbies/ interests?
I love to dance, sing, speak, act, read, write, cycle, spend time with friends and family, travel, play, etc. I hope to write books and speak at higher scales. I also want to create a space for my less privileged friends where they can stay, learn, etc. I would be really happy to explore many different fields like acting, journalism, etc. Anything that makes me love what I do?
Q: You are a true example that age never matters when you decide that you have decided that you want to achieve something. Who is your inspiration?
My inspiration is mainly my family especially my mom and dad. When it comes to celebrities, Zendaya, Michelle Obama, Harry Styles and Perrie Edwards also inspire me a lot; their journeys have been so hard but they always looked at the positive side.
Q: What is the dream of your life? What do you love the most?
A dream come true would be to meet the one and only Harry Styles or even to be on talk shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon or The Ellen show. I would love to go for a trip around the world too. When it comes to what I love the most, it will definitely my family, speaking, exploring, reading and writing.
Q: Do you have any message to the young children who want to be like you and wish to do something big in life?
Don’t let pressure from everyone else come in your way when you want to achieve something. Do what you love and love what you do. Don’t doubt yourself and devote time for playing and talking to your parents about what you really want to do; and always stay grounded
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