Who’d ever have thought that one day, I’d be writing to you this way? I can almost see a young girl of sixteen sitting across the table, listening intently, as I read this out—with rapt attention, and a face writ large with a little excitement, little fear and plenty of forebodings— in a city, far away from her hometown in the hills.
Well, leaving home was the very first step to the new chapter in your life. Unnerving, yes, but, you’ve done it! But, instead of feeling all chuffed about it, you’re feeling vulnerable, lost, and full of uncertainties. There is an intense pressure to balance the personal and the academic world but more than that, to prove your success to the world. You know how right from living up to your parents’ expectations to charting out your own path and dreams is something that you alone will have to do. And as you find yourself grappling with rejection, failure, embarrassment, uncertainty, insecurity and a good dose of self-loathing, let me assure you you are not alone. You’ve stepped out of the comfort zone finally—so, well done! Trust me when I say, I know how being on your own is scary, but it is also a heady feeling if you love your freedom.
Whether success comes first or rejection, time alone will tell. But, trust me on one thing—in the days and years to come, what will come to play the most decisive role in your life, will be something totally different. I do not have the chance to go back in time and change that one thing that I regret not doing—carving out the space for the things that made me happy. If you’ve always wanted to go for teaching, then, by all means, go for it. Take out that diary where you’ve been writing your stories and poems and keep writing more. The more you see life around you the better it gets, trust me. Over time, writing regularly will give you the experience you need to (maybe!) get paid for the stuff you like doing— something that you will be glad you did, in the years to come!
Don’t worry too much about how all of these activities are going to add up in the long run. The most important thing for you to know is that one thing leads to another. As you get to meet people who are interested in the same stuff as you, many doors will open up. Never miss a chance to network with people who might be able to offer you leads in the right direction. Create your own formula for success, but always be realistic. So, add a dash of criticism on top, because those naysayers play an important role, too, in life, to motivate you to rise above, to challenge yourself, and eventually to prove them wrong.
And, as the years go, you’ll find that life happens in between the plans we make. We mark our lives with milestones and achievements and yet, in the long run, it is the everyday moments that will come to define who we are. So, make friends, value friendships, make the most of your time with people who matter. Remember, some of the best friendships you form today will remain through your life.
Remember, twenty years from now, what will really matter is that tiny overlap that you see today between things you love to do and things that you’ll get paid to do! The blank slate of life is yours to write, so choose wisely!
I know I can’t go back in time and relive it all over again, but you surely can. So go and give it your best !