Her Campus Leeds International Women's Day Interview: Harsheni Maniarasan

Dwelling on the past is something I try to avoid; I like to look on towards the future or remain in the present, as I know how fast things can become a memory. However, when I found out that Harsheni Maniarasan and I were faced with the interview topic of ‘younger selves’, I was actually quite excited to look back on both myself and Harsheni’s youth, despite still feeling like a child myself at the ripe age of 20. I was also very intrigued to learn how my interview partner, Harsheni had moulded into the kind-hearted, chatty and talented person she is today.

 

After a few light-hearted comments and easy questions about our favourite colours and more had warmed us up, I started by asking whether Harsheni still wants the same career that she wanted when she was younger, to which I received a definitive ‘no’ in response with laughs about how different her path is now. She wanted to be a heart surgeon, so much so that she had even drawn her own hospital in a sketch book to aim towards, but then in hindsight, she stated, "When you grow up, you begin to think more practically, and I asked myself: do I really want to do this? Or did I just tell myself I wanted to?", and after realising at around the age of 15 that biology was not her forte, she decided she wanted to pursue arts, which is why she is now studying a Philosophy degree.

 

This led to such an interesting conversation about the dichotomy of those subjects- one was science based and the other was art based. We were both in agreement when Harsheni pointed out that just because she doesn’t ’want a career in that sector anymore’, it doesn’t mean she isn’t still interested in those topics. After all, you are the master of your own knowledge!

 

I am so glad to see a beautifully intelligent woman embrace both sides of the academic sphere and prove that you can be interested in science and the arts at the same time. How liberating is it that we have this wide array of choice?

 

We then moved on to discuss who she looked up to when she was younger, and whether that has changed, to which Harsheni responded with her father- an inspiration that has continued to this day. She claims she has struggled with setting such high standards for herself, as she admires her father’s discipline, successful law career and intelligence, which are attributes she hopes to maintain one day. What she struggles with is the knowledge that her father is proud of her no matter what and does not even push her to be like him, but his work ethic has definitely placed her onto her path of life to achieve similar successes in her own way; this can add a lot of unnecessary pressure onto her.

 

My favourite question that we both pondered on was what our younger selves would think of us now. There is something extremely daunting in this thought, as everything we have done in our lives has been for those little girls who dared to dream big, but when Harsheni replied noting that her younger self would be in awe, saying, "I want to do the things that you are doing", she was happy in the knowledge that she has done right by her younger self throughout her life. She always wanted to write for a magazine, which she has been able to do with HerCampus, and I am so ecstatic that she is making her younger self proud every day.

 

As our conversation came to a close, I questioned what advice she would give to her younger self.

"Never lose hope. Hope is the light you need in the darkness. Hope is the first thing to be there for you. Hold onto it and never let go. If you do you will be miserable".

Since this interview, I have held onto that advice myself to keep going, even if the stress feels like it is too much. Hope is there and will always set you free.

 

I want to say a massive thank you to Harsheni for being so open, sweet and fun throughout our zoom interview.

 

Words By: Anna Duffell

Interviewee: Harsheni Maniarasan

Edited By: Tamikka Reid