Letter to my 20-year-old self
Dear 20-year old self,
It has been 15 years that we have moved apart. I have moved on and you have stayed there untainted, unknowing and ignorant. But happy. I see you simple and unburdened. Oh you would argue that you have the burden of engineering drawing and thermodynamics. I know you hated those subjects but you did them anyway and did them well. Like you did so many things that you didn’t want to do and did them anyway. You didn’t know how to disappoint anyone and in your private moments you chided yourself for spreading yourself so thin for others vowing the next time you will say your emphatic no. But the next thing you know is you saying yes again and pattern follows for more than a decade. Let me tell you, it is okay. You did the right thing. You said yes and won hearts for life. Your friends are your friends for life. Your family, close and far, will think the world of you because you went that extra mile for them. So it was all good.
However, I need to tell you something. In doing all that – putting others before your own self, you made that into an unbreakable habit. At 35, I sit and try to break that cycle but I can’t. Old habits don’t die at all. I wish you had taken some time out to clear out your head, built some inner strength and made a pact. A pact that would have helped the 35 year old me be a happier person. You let people influence you, take decisions for you and speak on your behalf. You were shy and reserved but they thought you were weak and incapable. You shouldn’t have let them think like that. If you had stood up for yourself then, the course of your life would have been different. No, there are no complaints but it is always interesting to think how our life would have been if we had control over it rather than let other people direct it.
Let bygones be bygones because if we hold on, it will only create more resentment. You did good in whatever capacity you thought you had. You made people happy and that is what a large part of life is all about.
Don’t think that I am complaining, this is called taking stock, which you never did. How could you have! You were so busy doing, learning, meeting, absorbing, acquiring new skills and experiencing. I am so glad that you did. You acquired skills that help me do what I do today. You enjoyed creating and you created fearlessly either for real or in your head. Thank you for that. You aesthetics are not inspired and you know it. They are original and are wholly yours. You created them in your head during dull lectures and boring conversations. Your ability to zone out was your super power. You created worlds in your head, portions of which still exist and thrive in mine now. Thank you for that.
I wished you had written your experiences down because it would have helped like it is helping me now. Writing gives me clarity. But you were a powerful thinker back then, you didn’t need writing for clarity. You took on every thought with so much alacrity and zero cynicism. That was the beautiful part of you that I could not preserve. I apologize for that.
If there was something I desperately want that you had and I don’t now is the complete lack of awareness and cynicism. Lack of awareness allowed you to experiment with things without fear and above all trust people without doubt. Ofcourse people hurt you but your trust in general kindness of people did not waver. Now, I float in the waters of black cynicism and I trust very little. People tell me that it is a part of growing up but I doubt it is that. I know I have lost of sparkling sheen that came from the blind trust you had in everybody and every situation. You never expected trouble and 9/10 times things always turned out the way you expected them. This grown -up version of you right now is a sad person who trusts no one and expects everything to go wrong. I wish I could have preserved that untethered innocence.
You were not happy about how you looked, color, shape, height, weight – everything bothered you. So you chose to ignore all that and focused on your work. That paid off! Well done. That beautiful choice still stays. Some days I am still bothered but then again I take the same decision you took and focus on my work. I choose what I do over how I look each time. People say you need to accept yourself however you are. At 35, I still disagree like you did when you were 20. There is always scope for improvement.
You will be disappointed to know that there are so many things that you were fond of that I do not do anymore. I do not sing as much, do not play any sport and I don’t dance at all. But I have acquired a new skill which you would have liked too, had you explored it back then. Writing. I still read and am not as broke as you used to be. I don’t need for friends to finish reading their books before I can borrow them. I can easily afford to buy them and hoard them. You will also be delighted to know I have a 6 -year-old daughter who is nothing like both of us. She is her own person, fearless , confident and free. You would have loved observing her.
You did good, my 20 year old self. You did well. I am not anything like what you used to be but I am glad i got to experience you and I still remember the person that you were. That is why, I took the liberty of documenting you down today. I know you wouldn’t have approved of me doing so.