By Shobhit Agarwal:
Dear 13 year old me,
Hi and welcome to the land of ‘teenhood’. You have entered the most impressionable and critical phase of your life, one that will have consequences as far reaching as the time you breathe your last. The foundation of everything important in your life — your relationships, your career choices and your habits will be laid in these 6 years. But let me not scare you by emphasising only on the criticality of the period. This will also happen to be the most joyous and carefree stage of your life, one where you will get to explore and unearth unknown facts about your ecosphere.
Let me begin by addressing the biggest problem that you will be faced with during this time — ‘confusion’. I know that at the moment you are confused about anything and everything that is happening in your life. Mark my words when I say this that this is going to last deep into the phase and maybe even beyond. So, embrace yourself. You might not come to terms with it at the moment but let me share with you one of the golden truths about this period — ‘You are meant to be in a state of constant confusion.’ In the phase of incessant exploration and change, both biotic and abiotic, coping up with an unsettled stimuli is by no means a cakewalk and can be even more difficult than rocket science. Be happy that you are confused. It would be a matter of great concern if you were to have already figured out what it is that you want from life at such an early stage (If that is the case, a trip to the nearest shrink is advisable).
Your innocence is your greatest asset at the moment. But unfortunately, as and when you begin to search beyond the confines of your house, this big bad world, at every possible instant, will try to snatch it away from you. Now here is where your will-power will be put to test. If you do manage to avoid falling into the manipulative ways of the world, the course ahead in life will be a lot less rough. But, if God forbid, you do fall into the trap, then my friend, you might be greeted with roses and lilies at first but when you go back to bed at night, you will feel a sense of hollowness within you which will only keep on getting bigger with time and will never let you be in peace. The task won’t be easy but you will be doing yourself a huge service if you hold onto your innocence. No amount of laurels or money will be able to buy this ‘purity of thought’ once it is lost. So hold it close to your heart.
Teenhood also happens to be the phase when some of the most important relationships in your life are formed. Your heart plays the role of your relationship advisor rather than your mind. Relationships in this phase are not defined by profit-loss statements, as happens once you start approaching adulthood. Make new friends, strengthen your existing ties, fall in love, have continuous dialogue with your parents. These things might not sound important at the moment and you will keep on procrastinating them in the pursuit of building your life. But trust me when I say this, your life is build around your relationships. So make sure you invest your time heavily in them rather than go about wasting it on the less significant things.
At every possible step, your elders, teachers and peers will remind you about the importance of academics over and above everything else. At every instant you will be told that your life’s success will be determined by a few theories and formulae that you are able reproduce during the examinations. Having gone through the ordeal myself, I beg to differ with them.
Your friends and family mean well. Have absolutely no second thoughts about that. They want to see you become successful. But unfortunately, the rationalisation and confinement of their thinking forces them to live and advocate a risk free and conventional life, one that forces you to go down the path followed by the herd rather than charting out your own route. Not to undermine the importance of education, it is essential for a person’s evolution. But its purpose should be more than just scoring numbers and more importantly, it shouldn’t be at the top of your priority list — your parents and your health should be. Do what you love doing and are passionate about. The joys that you will get through them will never be replicated by a 50 out of 50 scorecard. This will ensure that when you look back at your adolescence, there will be no regrets to live with.
There are a lot more things that I would have wanted to share with you, but at the same time I want you to embrace the changes that happen around you with an open mind rather than with pre-conceived notions. Frustrations, emotions, excitement, disappointments will all run high. So, there will be no dearth of adventure. Be sure to squeeze as much you can out of every experience and don’t forget to celebrate every moment — big or small.
I would just like to end this by sharing with you couple of ideologies on the basis of which I have lived through my teenhood. The first one is based on the famous lines said by Robert Frost — ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” And the second one is governed by the thought process of leaving this planet a better place than the one I entered in. Maybe you might find some value in them.
Lots of love and regards,
23rd year old you.