Dear 21-year-old me,
I knew I was going to write this letter to you many years ago, and when do I finally write it? On the very last day. Some things about you are never going to change. Well, never is still too strong a word, but they won’t change for the next seven years for sure.
Let me begin by reminding you why we’re doing this. A few years ago I decided to write a letter to my younger self every seven years . Why seven? Because every seven years we become essentially “new people”. Not only do all our cells get replaced, but even our mental and emotional capacities change almost completely. So it seemed like a fitting number. The next time I write this letter I’ll be 34. (Holy shit!)
You must have just written your first letter in this series and must be wondering what your 27-year-old self is up to. You’re probably expecting her to be an independent, self-reliant, confident, beautiful woman managing her personal and professional life with elan. Heh. You’re cute.
As an anxiety-ridden woman dangerously close to turning thirty, let me tell you something about your twenties: they’re good, and then they aren’t for a while, but then they’re fucking fantastic. I know you haven’t even left your parents’ house, and you haven’t tasted real freedom, and you don’t know what it’s like to be an adult, but I wish you’d enjoy being home more. You really won’t get much time to spend with your family once you move out (except that one time you decide to take an epic break from work).
Be patient with Baba Dadi. Listen to them. Just sit and listen. There will be a day when you want to, and they’d have run out of words.
Read. Read, read, read. READ. Read fiction, non-fiction, opinion pieces, long articles. Read not just to know things, but to build a point of view.
I know how incredible being in love feels like. Look at you. You’re practically bouncing off the walls like a big, red, heart-shaped ping pong ball. Enjoy the ride. Live every moment of it. But also know that living in a hostel changes you in ways you can’t fathom right now. You make silly decisions that cause you severe pain, but you know what? It’s okay. It really, really is. You’re meant to make mistakes in your twenties. It’s always better to fall and hurt yourself in the beginning, so you know how to be careful later.
Don’t be in a hurry to get into meaningful relationships. Those are the ones that just happen. You’re going to meet some extraordinary people. I’m so excited for you.
You know how you’re dying to learn how to play the guitar? Just friggin do it. Also learn how to drive. “I’ll do it later” is a sentence you should avoid as much as possible. Believe me.
Please don’t feel guilty about being happy. Don’t feel bad about enjoying life, and moments, and people. Just go for it. Let it be and experience the magic.
You’re going to fall in love with people, you’re going to discover new sides to them, you’re going to have moments that seem like they’re from a movie. You’ll graduate, get jobs that always seem fun in the beginning and slowly become monotonous and stale. You’re going to love holding yourself responsible for your decisions. You’re going make friends, lose friends, live in PGs and shared apartments. You’ll laugh, bawl your eyes out, feel depressed, attend weddings, colour your hair, deepen your bonds with your parents, read books, shoot videos, work late nights, write poetry, have a mountain of bills to pay, go through the pain of heartbreak and the daily deluge of existential questions. You’re going to enjoy your body, and those of others. You’re going to gain some weight and love it when men show an interest in you. Oh yes, it will happen. Don’t you raise your eyebrows at me. Believe it or not, you’ll feel good about yourself.
You’re going to have conversations that move you to tears, you’re going to attend concerts that give you goosebumps, you’ll travel to several countries, you’re going to get tipsy and say the most ridiculous things, you’ll dance like crazy, you’re going to goof up at work too. Multiple times. But oh, how you’re going to love it. In other words, dear Astha, you’re going to love being human. You’re also going to become more confident. Not as confident as you’d have imagined yourself to be at 27, but trust me, when you walk into work, people look up to you. Do you know you’re going to manage a team? Do you know you’ll manage a house? And oh, most importantly? (This is a major spoiler alert, but I can’t help but tell you about it.) Come closer so I can whisper it into your ear.
You’ll fall hopelessly, painfully, crazily, passionately in love with someone you’ll grow to deeply respect and admire. A month after you turn twenty eight, you’d both be standing in silly costumes, smiling stupidly at each other, about to get married.
It may not be how or whom you’re imagining it, but it will happen. You’re going to marry your best friend. You’re going to share jokes, listen to enchanting music together, go on long drives, and just laugh endlessly. Life would suddenly seem so much fun you’d wish a crew of film-makers were documenting it.
For now, you silly little girl, just focus on how you can grow your mind, and spend time with people who matter. I’m repeating this: don’t be apologetic about being happy in life.
And don’t listen to the mirror. Things get better.
Also, please take some time out to exercise. Your back is not nice to you when you’re old(er).
Also, open a savings account early on please? Or don’t. I’m fine either way. Just know that I love you. I only wish you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You’re going to grow into a fine woman. Someone who may still not know what she’s doing in life, but one who has grown comfortable and happy in her own skin.
You’ll also never figure out how you can be such a happy and a sad person. You’ll never figure out how two opposing forces can coexist within you. But try not to think too much about it. From ecstasy to melancholia, you’ll learn to enjoy it all.
The biggest lesson you’ll learn is this: you can be a super smart creative genius who is capable of creating masterpieces, but if you’re not a good person, it’s all an utter waste. You’ll realise the most important thing in life is to be kind. And you are. Don’t let that go.
You’re going to enjoy this wonderful, beautiful change. You’ll grow wings, little one. Make the most of it.
Much, much love,
Astha from the future. 🙂