passion projects
Lifestyle

Pursuing our Passion Projects | I’m on a Podcast!

Hello!! I hope you are having a great week!

I got to take part in a cool project this week — I was on a podcast! One of my friends from high school, Calvin, just started a podcast called “The Novice Experience,” where he chats with young adults and students about their opportunities and challenges in life, school, and career. It was a lot of fun being a part of Calvin’s new project and I learned a lot about the podcast making process — definitely, an awesome way to connect with individuals in a socially distanced way. 🙂

In my episode, I talked about my transition from college to my career at a Big 4 firm and the importance of open mindedness when it comes to carving your academic and professional path. Not only did I grow up exploring numerous hobbies, passions and activities, I also enjoyed many different academic subjects and constantly bounced around what I wanted to study and pursue as a career. I remember I was quite overwhelmed to be surrounded by some friends who had their own “thing” or were so sure of what they wanted to pursue. Regardless, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had because they’ve all gotten me this far, personally and professionally. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have started this blog if I didn’t have my wide array of experiences and interests!

If this interests you, I hope you get the chance to listen to my episode of “The Novice Experience.” You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Youtube!

After recording my podcast, Calvin and I chatted about what motivated us to start our passion projects– my blog and his podcast — since we both started them around the same time. I wanted this blog post to be kind of an informal “interview” of sorts, just so you can get to learn more about what inspired us to start these projects, our goals and successes, and challenges!

1. What inspired you to pursue your podcast (or blog)?

Calvin: During this pandemic, I’ve had lots of time to self-reflect on my journey so far, and all the different opportunities and challenges that I encountered in life, education, and career. There were many success stories, lessons learned, tough decisions, and risk-taking moments, but each experience eventually shaped who I am today. The accumulation of experiences made me realize how much I have grown. It’s incredible how our experiences shape our growth. I’m sure many of you reading can already think of such experiences of your own, and we all have stories that we can share. I launched “The Novice Experience” podcast so that it could be a platform for my guests to tell their own unique tales of personal growth when they were “novices” with new social situations, experiences, activities, or even emotions. I hope young adults and students will find inspiration through these stories, and perhaps more importantly, confidence as they chart their own paths.

Mani: It started as a small idea that I didn’t think I would complete to fruition. I was extremely stir-crazy during quarantine and found myself dabbling into all of my interests — from cooking and baking to fitness and wellness. I also wanted to incorporate the interests prevalent in my life, such as fashion and beauty, but in an “at home” environment.

I was also extremely frustrated by myself. I never had my “thing.” I always wished I had something that I could truly call my own. No one passion or hobby truly defines me– for example, I have always been interested in sports and fitness, music, and fashion. But, one constant in my life has always been writing, even when I didn’t realize it. I have spent most of my life enjoying creative writing, such as poetry and music. In high school, I explored blogging my writing. A few months ago, I jokingly mentioned that I should start a blog for fun, not realizing that would be highly encouraged by my family and friends. To them, it just made sense that I should give this a shot. So, I decided to start this blog as a creative outlet for all of my passions and hobbies and try to create a brand for myself. It became something that got me excited about my array of interests, rather than frustrated. And that’s how maniidhillon.com was born! 

2. What are your goals for this new endeavour?

Calvin: My goal for the podcast is simple – to make a positive impact on everyone involved, including the listeners, guests, and myself. It’s a goal that’s not easily quantifiable, but one that’s the most important in my opinion. For a self-improvement podcast, it’s only worthwhile if everyone involved is feeling inspired and learning from the content. In terms of who I want to work with, there’s really no specific guests I have in mind. Basically, I’m searching for people who have stories to share that we can learn and grow from. My hope is to meet new people as they come on the show, maybe even establish some lasting relationships. Who knows where this podcast will take me? Right now, I’m in a “Just Do It” mindset and I’m excited to look back at this journey a few months and a year later.

Mani: Learning learning learning! As much as I love writing and creating the content, I am always excited about working on back-end side of the blog. I use WordPress and it’s been an amazing learning experience learning how to do the back-end work on this site — from getting my own domain to customizing the layout and try to code my customizations. 

As with many endeavors people take on, I am definitely looking to try to grow the blog, so outreach is something I am trying to work on. Ultimately, I just want this to be a positive outlet where I share my experiences with my community. It’s been very humbling to hear my friends tell me when they read my blog or tell me they enjoyed a particular post. I can tell when someone gives me genuine appreciation for what I’m doing because I try to put a lot of effort into this! I once had a friend tell me she read my blog to help her revamp her skincare routine. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me! At the end of the day, it’s a passion project, but it makes me happy to know that my experiences can help others too! 

3. What is the best part about working on your project? What has been the most challenging?

Calvin: I’ve always been passionate about building authentic relationships with people around me. It’s a little bit ironic that engineers have the stereotype of being nerdy and socially-awkward, and constantly getting “Introverted” on my Myers-Briggs tests cemented that notion within. Luckily, through project work and several internships, I’ve realized I’m an “Ambivert.” I am someone who is both a listener and speaker with a balanced sense of trust. I love the word “trust” because I believe it’s the core of every symbiotic relationship! The podcast is a storytelling vehicle, so as I record each episode, I’m sharing a deeper connection with my guests – something that I am passionate about and don’t take for granted!

On the other hand, the most challenging part has been learning the equipment and software of podcasting so that my listeners can get the best experience I can offer. We’re recording almost every episode virtually (and socially distanced!), and though I’ve been getting positive feedback about the audio quality to start, I’m still looking forward to learning how I can improve the product. I would love to experience my grade 10 Recording Arts classes again (that I took with Mani)!

Mani: The best part is that I get to try out something that I enjoy and have fun with it however I can. It’s my project, so I set my own goals and expectations that I hold myself accountable for.

This is both something I enjoy and a challenge: the creative flexibility. Because I don’t really have a “niche” (would this be considered lifestyle??), I have so many topics to choose from when I plan or write content. Sometimes this can get overwhelming, but I also appreciate the flexibility because I don’t feel stuck with one topic or niche. It’s been helpful to have a wide array of topics to write about,  but sometimes, I’ll still get writer’s block. However, it’s helpful to have a wide range of topics to write about to help me overcome writer’s block more easily. I can see myself refining my niche further down the line, but right now, the blog is to help me create my brand and share my experiences related to the topics that I identify with the most: fashion, wellness, beauty, and career. So, I guess it is basically a lifestyle blog because it’s inspired by my life! 

Another challenge is sometimes having to create the content on my own. The writing part comes more easily to me, rather than the photography and visuals. I’ve learned to be creative with how I photograph, use social media and plan/create content. I definitely have a greater sense of appreciation for creatives with a greater following or who do this for a living because it’s not easy, especially doing it alone. Luckily, I’ve become good friends with my tripod. 😉

There you go! I hope you enjoy listening to the podcast and reading about both of our experiences starting up our new projects. I’d love to hear if you want to start a passion project of your own or if you have one already!

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