10 Things I would tell my 16-year-old self

1) It’s okay to disagree with your parents. You won’t be a bad person for it. As long as you are dignified about it, which I know you will be, you are well within your rights to reason with them. To sit from across them, and tell them they are being unreasonable, prejudiced.

Look. They grew up in a separate world. Things were different then. And they don’t have access to the Internet and the people and the books that you do. Your folks are good people. Kind. Warm. Welcoming. They just need to be engaged in dialogue. Over homosexuality. Mental health. Relationships. They will come around.

The magic is in the conversation you are avoiding!

2) That voice inside you that tells you to pursue literature. Listen to it.

You have read books during your worst times. To escape Bansal classes blues. To forget and let go of a loved one. To alleviate insomnia. Taken a course in ‘Literature’ without knowing the group intended to take the GRE at the end of it! You will drive 20 km up and down for a routine English class during B Tech, to hear about grammar rules you have known since high school! No guy will ever enchant you the way language teachers will. You will sit besotted in their classes wanting to somehow become them.

Yeah. Pursue literature. However you can. It will warm your soul.

3) Marriage isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean the end of your career. Stop being so defeatist about it. I don’t know what it is. American television you have grown up on, or the circle you operate in, or the books you have read. But you are so frigid in your dismissal of marriage as an institution.

Look around, babe. Your family has umpteen examples of people who came together and created ravishing worlds for themselves. So many happy couples to look up to. Be guided by that.

Don’t give up on marriage just yet. When mummy papa bring it up, stop looking away. Participate in the discussion and put your heart into finding the right one. Only you know what you want. Don’t live in denial. Don’t let this scare you. I promise it isn’t that bad.

And if it turns out to be, we will see what we can do. It’s never the end of the world, sweetheart. But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, shall we?

4) No job and no relationship is worth your mental health. Nothing is.

5) An MBA wouldn’t solve all your problems. Stop fantasizing it. Stop considering it too sacred for a logical discussion. Stop being so hung up on it without knowing or questioning why.

I mean, there is a reason you despise idol worship. Dismiss the concept of unconditional love. Steer clear of superstition. Abhor fanaticism. There is nothing smart about throwing rationality out of the window. For religion or relationships or career or anything.

And don’t get me wrong. I am all for education. Pursue an MBA. By all means. Just don’t do it because it feels important. Have a rock-solid reason. Know it in your gut that the degree will help you in such and such a way, and you will do wonders.

6) Your family is all you will ever have. No one else is going to go out on a limb to look after you. No one is going to wait around the fences, lurk around the corners, to see if you are alright. No one will have their antennae up to catch the weakest signals of trouble in your life. And to do their damn best to pull you out of the quicksand of misery you have got yourself into.

Trust them. And let go of this need to pretend it’s all okay. And that you have to be a constant source of happiness to them. They have all, gone through life far enough to know it’s not a straight path. They expect you to fall in the ditches, and to lose control around the blind turns. Let them be there for you.

And whatever you do, don’t ignore their calls on bad days. It kills them.

7) Networking isn’t a bad thing. Its not all commercial. It isn’t just for money mongers and party goers. You need people. No one goes through life alone.

Talk more. Socialize more. Meet people. Don’t build walls. Build your circle. It’s okay to be seen. Share your goals. Talk about your problems. That’s your best bet at getting new ideas and finding new paths.

If nothing else, you will at least know that life sucks for each one of us. You are not unique in your problems or your achievements. Everyone is happy and everyone is screwed up. In their own ways. Knowing just this, will put you to ease.

8) It’s okay to speak your heart. To tell people you don’t love them. Not in the way they do. Tell them how absolutely lovely it is, to know that they want you in their lives forever. How knowing this, warms your heart. But please, please, please, don’t give in when they wouldn’t take no for an answer. They deserve better. You deserve better.

Yes, they are kind people. No one wants to break a kind, loving heart. But I promise you, it’s for their own good. Don’t keep perfectly nice people from finding their soulmates. Its selfish. It will lead them on. And you aren’t that person. One who does these things. Don’t do it out of politeness. It’s wrong. You will hate yourself for it.

9) You are going to falter. Become messed up. Stop talking. Talk unendingly. Your behaviour will change. You will get possessed by different demons at different points of your life. Anger, sadness, hauteur. And that’s okay. What is life if not a giant, bewildering maze. And it’s okay for you to run down the wrong alleys from time to time.

But keep an eye out for the people who call you out on these occasions. They are your true friends. Hold them dear.

It will suck in the moment. To have to face it point blank. Your stomach will turn. And self-loathing and outrage will engulf your insides. But this feeling will pass and you will evolve into a better person. I promise.

10) Confrontation isn’t a vice. Don’t hold it all in. You don’t always have to be the bigger person. That thing about not sweating the small stuff? Well, it’s not all small stuff. You got to address things sometimes. To tell people you didn’t like their ways, their words. It’s up to them to choose their reaction. But you owe it to yourself to speak your heart from time to time. Before it all builds up into a large, messy volcano inside. Ready to erupt at the worst time. You don’t want the relationship to end. You don’t want another scarring experience. You don’t want to be sorry for your venomous words later. So deal with your issues, sweetheart. It’s not easy. But you got to do it.

And finally. In the words of the legendary Monica Geller, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You are going to love it” :)

Writer, Language lover, Marketing professional