A Letter on Life from a 22-Year-Old to Her 18-Year-Old Self has been edited by Nidhi Shah.
Hello, my 18-year-old self.
Today, as I stand out of my teenage years, facing the adult life you had always dreamed of, there are certain things that I would like to tell you. I promise I shall not preach you because I know exactly what you have been through all this time. I will rather jot down a comprehensive list of the things, a letter on life, that you should know at this important point in your life.
- Feel comfortable in your own body. If someone tries to comment or lecture you on it, do not hesitate to give them a nice punch in their face. If you feel that there is a particular concern about your body, that you should change for the betterment of your health, go for it.
Aim for a healthy lifestyle, not a perfect figure at the cost of starving or over eating. And never ever succumb to society’s pressure and abide by their beauty standards.
- The panic of having acne marks or getting tanned can be kept aside. Your body is going through a lot of hormonal changes and it is absolutely normal for such a thing to happen. Next time someone tells you how dark you have become, tell them that it is because while they lay their asses in air-conditioned rooms all day, you are going out to play sports and win laurels for your school.
- Took a particular stream because parents asked you to do so and not enjoying it? Remember that thousands, maybe even lakhs of Indian kids go through that. Try to find a silver lining. And if you cannot spot one, go out and ask for help. Do not be shy. Talk to your teachers, friends, relatives (not highly recommended), and you will get to know different perspectives on life. But at the end, do what your heart says. You will definitely find a way out of the pit, into a career you love.
- Do not want to pursue engineering? That is not the end of the world. Research on your interests and the fields that match with them. Make a solid plan and tell your parents about it. Try to convince them that what you have planned is good for you and will bear positive results. Build their trust in you. It would not happen in the blink of an eye, but sooner or later, it will. They would not force you into doing something that you do not like. After all, they too know that it is your life and you have to live with it. Also, do not take up something just because you feel there is no other option. It is a post liberalised economy; there is no dearth of options and it will get confusing. All you need to do is research.
- Try to find some time for your hobbies. Life is not all about school, coaching, competitive examinations and those big fat books of Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. It is much more than that. Who knows what good can come out of pursuing one’s hobbies?
Believe me, if you are able to pursue just one hobby every day, be it dancing, sketching, writing or playing a sport, you will be able to channel all your frustration in a much better way.
- I know there were several occasions when you had lied to mom and dad. It is all right at that age to do so. After all, we are no saints who would tell the truth every time we open our mouths. But always keep in mind that they are the ones who trust you the most. They are the most valued in this letter on life. Try not breaking their trust, because once they find out, it will hurt them a lot. I know it seems scary to share every secret with them because of the generation gap, but there is no harm in taking a baby step towards the start.
- Teased by your friends for being single? Do not worry about that. I know it is tough being in the minority of singles in this age. But it is your life, and it is completely your decision to not pay attention to your love life and focus on building up a career and getting involved in activities that you enjoy. Ideally, that is the best thing to do at this age.
- So, you finally meet a guy and fall head over heels! Day and night you fantasise about him and wish that you had the strength to tell him that you like him. All that is good, but do not let him occupy your mind. There are more important things and people in this world. If you really feel that he is the one for you (most probably, he would not be), then go and tell him. Do not worry whether he would say yes or not. Just spill it out and forget about it. Do not regret later that you should have told him. And never cry, your tears are too precious to waste it on any guy in the world. Remember, all of this is okay even if it is someone from the same gender.
- Relationships and heart breaks are part and parcel of life. It is okay to go through them and experience them. Learn from your experiences and mistakes, they help you evolve as a stronger and a wiser person. Until and unless you fall down, you would not learn how to pick yourself up and walk again. These days first love hardly goes on to become forever. Treat it as a chapter in your life and move on. Do not let it stop you.
- Finally, it is the last year of your school life. Cherish it as much as you can. Make memories. Coming from a 22-year-old via a letter on life, consider it heartily. Ten years down the lane, you would not remember how much you stressed in your first term’s Physics test, but you will definitely remember the pranks you played on your friends, be it in classes, on the playground or in the mall.
There are a lot of things in life waiting to greet you, both good and bad.
Things might seem tough now, but I know you will sail through all the mess you are stuck in and emerge successfully. I wish someone had given me a letter on life when I was 18. Follow the paths of consistency and hard work, perseverance and the spirit of never giving in. You will do amazing work in the coming years and will make everyone, including yourself, so proud of you. Just keep going and keep learning all along.
You, only four years older.
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