This Letter To My 20-Year Old Self Comes From A Place Of Being Myself

It’s not your duty to please everyone. You don't have to be the perfect woman. What would you tell your 20-year old self?

It’s not your duty to please everyone. You don’t have to be the perfect woman. What would you tell your 20-year old self?

Dear Yani,

Happy Birthday. So…you have turned 20! Congratulations on the milestone. Celebrate it.

Now, don’t give excuses like you have that Honours class to attend. I know.. you are fond of BB and her lecture on ‘The Return Of The Native’. Your classmates have thousands of reasons to criticise Eustacia, and lots more to feel sorry for Mrs. Yeobright. Yet, you tend to look at Prof. Banerjee’s passionate defense of the young girl, the much-reviled daughter-in-law. Hmm. Clym and his mother can wait. Just take a day off and enjoy.

How I wish I could turn back the time machine and be 20 – all over again.

I would put on that red tee and that boyfriend jeans. Yeah, they call it that nowadays. Without feeling awkward. Without a care in the world. Ignoring the eyes of countless men on the street as you walk by. Without feeling violated. It sucks! When you take hesitant steps, trying to pull down the tee.. and mind you, the tee almost touches your knee. I almost laugh out loud. When have ogling men ever been interested in joints? Their eyes are fixated on your twins. Those D size. You wish you could just disappear. Or get a damn surgery. Reduction, they call it.

Just shrug it off, dear. Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna.  

They are strangers.

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But how do you deal with them? Your apne, your own?

Those so-called well-wishers. That steady stream of complaints directed at mom and dad for raising me as… well…a ‘modern’ girl. OMG! How’s she going to adjust in her sasuraal? And please get her married ASAP. What is she going to gain by learning German?

I know what you are feeling, Yani. Your lookout for excuses to avoid family gatherings – your taking refuge in ‘periods’ because they are unholy. I understand the irony too well. I have questioned those medieval practices myself. And yet, with a pinch of hypocrisy, I took refuge in these – because it suited me. No. I was too scared. Of the ‘log kya kahenge’ syndrome.

Enough, my dear.

It’s not your duty to please everyone. Come on, even pani puri has its critics.

As you celebrate 20 years on earth, make this resolve. I am here to lead MY life. And I will lead it the way I desire. Yes, I have a D size. You have a problem with that? I don’t wear a bindi as other South Indian girls do. Does that make me a lesser Hindu? I prefer the company of books over buas. Does that make me anti-social? Yes, I am fluent in a foreign language. Does that mean I do not love my country? Does that mean I disrespect my culture? Yup, sometimes I forget to enquire about nana and nani. Is love equated with ‘tum kaise ho’?

Yani…my dearest…do not repeat those mistakes I committed. I wasted two decades of my life, trying to be ‘The Perfect One’. I forgot…even the great Achilles had a weakness. I am but a mere mortal. Today, I am not ashamed of the steps I take with my ‘feet of clay’.

Once again, a Happy Birthday.

Lots of hugs, kisses and love


Top image is a scene from the Hindi movie Highway

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About the Author

Narayani Manapadam

I am an IT professional, lost in the monotonous world of Excel. So, I seek refuge in Word, pun intended. I write for various literary platforms and have quite a few anthologies to my credit. read more...

42 Posts | 117,863 Views

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