Hari is, I don’t know if that’s something I can completely describe in a couple of sentences - but I feel like Hari is something new everyday. Well, I hope that I am. I feel that there's a lot of different experiences based on my childhood, growing up with 19 siblings out of different religions that have a different impact on who I am and how I show up in different spaces. So yeah, I mean Hari is different. That’s who Hari is, different in different scenarios. And willing to be different. And I’m going to be different in different ways tomorrow, hopefully.
TEOP: What would you tell your younger self?
Um… that’s funny. I’ve had this conversation a lot with friends, but like on how life would be different if I was growing up now in high school. I don’t know why it’s always high school that I think about in these scenarios. There was so much of myself that I was discovering and I needed those discoveries, but I rejected them. Um, because it was easier, or at least I thought it was. But as I began to embrace those things, embrace being able to change and be different from what I thought I was supposed to be, I gained a lot of joy. I would hope - I feel like I needed that, but it would be a difference experience if I could had embraced that earlier. It would have been a lot less trauma I think I would have had to go through. I would tell myself to embrace the negative change, to embrace your future not liking, like, how I thought it was supposed to look. And I’m still telling myself that.
TEOP: How do you see your future self?
I try not to confine myself to any set future. Obviously, I have goals and plans. But like I said when you asked about what I would tell my younger self, so much of my goals and plans back then changed. I wish I was open to those changes so that I would have been able to better deal with those changes. So right now I’m just trying to go with the flow, doing what I love. Doing the stuff that I’m passionate about without really being tied to a specific outcome. And hopefully, obviously, be able to make a living off of my writing. I want to be able to write what I wanna write. I want people to respect what I’m doing. Outside of that, so many different things can change. And who I thought I would be a year ago today is completely different. But I see in the future, always always changing. I just want to be able to do what I’m good at, and get better at it. And have it impact people’s lives.
TEOP: Why is identity so important to you?
Well, I grew up in a family of 19 children and so it was hard to figure out where I fit. On top of that, my parents were not very based in religion, especially in the context of our larger family. My father is Muslim and my mother is Hindu. So there is so much of me that always felt different from people. Just because of like, who I was and how I was raised and all of that. And add to that I’m Queer and of course I’m Black - so I’m always moving through the world knowing that how I’m interacting with people are colored by all these things. This isn’t to say that you need to have all of these different identities in order to be concerned with identity, but I think it definitely influenced me to want to know exactly who I am and exactly how I fit in the world and how all these people fit into my world, too. Because I have to do that all the time. And it is important; I think that asking those questions helped me to be comfortable with myself.
TEOP: What are some of your passions?
Hari: I am passionate about a lot of things. Storytelling is a big general concept, but particularly I am interested in film and TV – which is what I went to school for. And visual mediums, drawing, painting, and of course writing. Um, I've always had a connection with how to communicate through art, and tell lives and breath life into other people’s experiences, or experiences that don't belong to anyone because I think that's a kind of magic. And so that's what I try to do even if I'm not writing or filming or anything. In life I think that you can find those moments of storytelling, and I try to focus on that as well.
TEOP: What are some fears that you have?
Hari: Fears.... Uh, I have a lot of fears. I think my biggest fear is to not be able to find stability in, uh, this unstable life. Like I know that life is very unstable; I know that it’s always changing and I know that I'm always gonna be changing. And I wanna be ok with that, and most of the time I'm ok with that. But when I'm not, umm, it gets really scary. And it’s in those moments I think is when I'm most down, and I hope to reduce those moments whenever they come up.
TEOP: What does stability look like to you?
Hari: So that’s the thing, obviously like I said there is no stability, really. So maybe stability isn't really what I'm looking for. It’s, instead, just the comfort in knowing that there is no stability. And that in and of itself is a kind of stability, so that’s why I use that term but I think that it might just be being free and being ok with being free. And letting the world live around me and living with it. And being ok with it.
TEOP: What are some pastimes you enjoy?
Hari: Um... I like working out. That's kind of like my meditation. I spend a lot of time thinking when I'm at the gym. And it’s very therapeutic for me. I like to, also, hang out with people and talk. But a lot of time I'm very introverted; but the idea of community and community building is really important to me. So you'll probably always see me around other people or somebody's party. What else do I like to do? I like to draw. I drew a lot when I was younger, my parents actually wanted me to be a visual artist. But that’s not something I could like ever do for a living. It was just something that was very therapeutic for me.
TEOP: What is some of the best advice you've been given?
The best advice? These are good questions. The best advice I ever received was from my sister actually. She says a lot of really amazing things that I hope to keep with me, but we were talking about healing and family and what that looks like. And she just said that when you know someone loves you, you have to believe in their intentions. And a lot of times, I get really defensive. Especially with my family. And if something is said that rubs me the wrong way I hold that against them. But I've been working on trying to see where someone's intentions are, especially if I know they love me. And it's been so much better for a lot of my relationships because of that.
TEOP: Favorite Song?
Hari: There are songs that I can't stop listening to but they're not my favorite. They're just terrible songs that I just can't get out my head. But my favorite song right now is a song by Stacy Barf (SP) who is a little known musician, I think she's based in NY actually – and it’s called “War for Love.” I am going through a lot of relationship issues at the moment but the song is more than that to me. It just speaks to a kind of struggle, and knowing what you're fighting for is worth it. And it doesn't have to look like a man or anything, it can look like anything you love, it can look like your passions. And it’s beautiful!