I sent this message in a feminist Slack group I'm part of for South Asians, particularly South Asian youth. I wanted to share it here, edited for clarity, in case anyone else needed to hear it, especially for those who feel they are too "old" to develop a artistic practice or untalented or that it's "too late:"
Not everyone is in a place to "drop everything" and pick up art. I, myself, keep a job to sustain my life and those I support. And I have to.
But that does not diminish the importance of my music and art. It is what makes me feel like a human being.
I didn’t really pursue music in earnest until I was 23-25. To this day, my art practice is constantly growing and expanding. I'm constantly learning and making mistakes.
I would be in a world of sorrow if I believed that my present-age of 30 years old, there was no place for my art and voice because I’m "too old." In reality, I am very young. My mom recently comments on how I was in "the prime of my youth."
With respect to music production, I taught myself most of what I know. I've also saved up to take classes here and there when I needed.
Building a community of other QTBIPOC musicians who I lean on and who lean on me had been a vital part of this process. To be a creative can be a relentlessly isolating experience and it's important to have empathy and camaraderie from folks who understand. Building this community was a VERY slow gentle process.
Sometimes, I feel like I haven’t done enough. I feel inadequate.
Sometimes, I look back in a bit of awe at how much I’ve learned and done slowly over time. I am deeply contented and trust my journey.
I’m always trying to build discipline and re evaluate and re commit.
I am starting to get into visual art and writing too. And who knows where that will take me. Maybe I’ll do an MFA at 45! Or not! Who knows! I know it's not too late for me to pick up anything; some people don’t really do the art and writing thing until much, much later in life.
It's a continued practice to make myself vulnerable by putting myself and my art out there and accept support and admiration. And a continued process of de-internalization of capitalism, ageism, ableism and casteism that impede my art and cause me to self-sabotage.
My advice to you:
There is definitely still time.
[Image description: A part Uliya's red mesh shirt and right-arm with a single pearl bangal is visible. Most of the frame is taken up by a dark green bush and bright red-orange flowers. Uliya is gently holding a branch with some of the flowers.]