Dear 21 year old self,
I know you are doing pretty good, rather brilliant, if I may say so at this moment. You just got your first credit card, which is a big deal to you, a job you are proud of and most importantly, good people around you. The friends you are hanging out with right now are going to be an important part of your time to come, some of whom you will call up at 4AM and say “Listen, I screwed up”. The surprise 21st birthday party was killer and the dinner that followed it too. Now you may wonder what wisdom I have gained in a period of four years that I will share with you. It’s not much but let me assure you, you will not be disappointed where you have got.
Chicago is beautiful; its suburbs are calm and serene. New York City is breathtaking to say the least and one needs to spend a year of his life there, well I definitely intend to. And my good old Bloomington, of which you have never heard of before and where I am right now, is a small student town, lively as hell and filled with activity. Let me tell you that for a person who has never left Hyderabad in 21 years for more than a 2 month holiday now and then, the next 4 years of your life is filled with a lot of travel. Some of it alone, some to really far off places and some to a point of no return and you will enjoy each one of those.
So, that brings me to the point of this letter. Sitting at coffee shops and working on case studies, roaming around a small student town and its downtown and attending random music events are some of the things that have been a fascination for a long time and I assure you that most of these small things have been accomplished. Over the last four years, apart from fulfilling all these childhood fascinations, and adding a few more to the to-do list, you have sort of a clearer picture of what to do in life, which had always been a puzzle all through.
We are fascinated by numbers, especially us Indians. The very idea of putting a number next to every little thing in life is something that comes naturally to us. Creating pointless milestones out of irrelevant entities is a common pass time, Sachin’s 100th 100 being a clear example here. Living half the world away from the homeland has not taken an iota of Indianess out of me. I strongly believe that biryani and pani puri can bring about world peace and the Golden Gate Bridge is nothing in front of the Tank Bund back home. No arguments on those. Similarly, I still love numbers and turning 25 is a big deal. Turning 21 was a big deal as well, in a good way, but 25 is weird.
The first 21 seemed like a lifetime. That was the only time when you naively trust people to be as nice to you as you are to them. You make a ton of friends, become close to some and lose a lot of them as well. With every friend you lose, you lose a bit of yourself. Some memories, activities, that you associate with one cannot be repeated with anyone else since the effect is just not the same. You will realize that some friendships last for a reason, some for a season and very few for a lifetime. Believing this lessens the pain of the ones that can’t go the distance.
This letter is not an expression of rebellion or sadness but of optimism. We are all born with the innate ability to rise above all the pain and suffering that life constantly brings. We are all born with a glimmer of hope, that maybe we can change things for ourselves if we really tried. I know I can overcome adversity because there is a part of me that will never give up. Here’s to overcoming our greatest obstacles.
All things considered, you have done a fairly decent job so far. While I am really glad to turn 25 in six months, there are certain things I miss about being 21; things that have withered with time just the slightest bit. The idealism I had, the pure belief that time is the best equalizer, the self-righteousness in decision making and a few other things. I have often wondered the very purpose of life and the comic strip below is the closest I have come to believe.