To my 20 year old self

Here’s a picture from your first ever Euro Trip. You thought this day would never come!

It’s been 6 years since since I graduated from college and these 6 have been some of the best years of my life. Of things I learnt, people I met, projects I worked on— there is nothing I would want to trade it for.

Looking back at the tensed 20 year old I was in college, I wish I could show her a glimpse of the choices I made and life I have been living. To show her — it’s all sorted and to tell her — it’s all going to work out fine.

Nevertheless, to my 20 year old self in college — here are somethings I would want to tell you. And hopefully it would also help the 20 year olds now, just getting into college/in it.

Life does NOT move from year to year

One of the things schools have ingrained in us is that progress happens every year. You move from one class to other, you score, you fail or you succeed. Life progresses every year. Let’s call it the schooling myth.

This would be hard to unlearn, but unlearn it. Year is not a metric for measuring life’s success, failure, quality, quantum. Sometimes grief takes years to get over and some successes happens in just a few months. It’s okay at either pace.

You have lived only 1/4th of your life

You are 20 or may be less. You have lived only 1/4th of your life or may be less. If you are thinking that your 20 year self is capable of figuring it all out and if you dont figure out your 24–28 year old would be screwed in life — well ahem! Get real and have trust! :) Your future self would definitely be a much a better version of you and would figure herself out. So don’t worry about her. Plan, if you want to. But trust her with her plans and her ability because you are fighter and would always be one!

You matter because you are

Listen, I would want to shout and tell you, you are special and you are different and you are awesome. But I know you are this left brained IITian who would think I am patronizing you. So let me tell you this — you matter because you ARE. Because you are here in this place, with your eccentricities and your choices. This is your chance to create your story — if you choose to give up or end your life — go ahead but whats the point of that anyway? Your choices and your aspirations will go with you, the world will move as is. So you go to live and thrive and make things happen because you ARE. And what you do matters, to you and to folks around you.

Stand up for yourself

Listen, no one has got it figured out. Not even those seniors, they are another bunch of 20 year olds who are still figuring it out. They are not always right. So, don’t let them bully you. Don’t let anyone bully you, or show you down. Not those boys, not those profs. Stand up for what you believe in and trust your guts. You will do alright!

You define yourself and that definition changes

You are free to define yourself. You are free to change that definition from time to time. It’s allowed :) You are not a certain type and you dont have to stick around to be one.

4 Years <<< 25 Years of learning

College life would give amazing friends, some great academic courses, time and space to learn & explore yourself, love — albeit sometimes unrequited. It would also give lot resources and time to learn (academic & non-academic). Make the most of the learning. Also know, assuming you started learning from age 10 and would learn till 40, you have another 10–15 years of learning left. So, if this doesn’t work out the way you expected, its okay!

Talk/ Reach out

When in doubt, reach out. Again, this is not exactly taught in schools or at home. I guess we taught to figure things out on our own more often than not. I agree it’s difficult to find the right folks where you feel comfortable to express. So make an effort to find the right folks. They wont happen by chance. Finding the right folks needs it’s own effort. To finding folks to discuss your academic research to finding folks to get to vulnerable with. Talking and reaching out helps. Make the effort to find them.This spectrum of people would be your biggest source of growth & strength. Talking/Reaching out is the most under-rated tool of self-development.

Also, did I tell you it was a solo trip! @27. :)

Love,

Saraswati (Your 27-year old self)