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After I saw a picture of me as a child, I kept thinking of what I would say to my 8-year-old self. Here are the 9 life lessons I’d give her.
A few days ago, my uncle sent me a photo, taken in his house when I was 8 years old. My first reaction was to smirk at the photo and think to myself, ‘What an ugly child I was!’
Once that horrible thought subsided, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things the little girl in the photo had seen until then, and so much that was yet to come her way.
Shortly after the photo was taken, my mother was diagnosed with stones in her gall bladder. This was her second time. Little did I know my ignorant innocence was about to be taken away by what life was going to throw at me.
My mother had to be hospitalised and was either in the hospital or away to be taken care. Due to various circumstances, I ended up living in my joint family without my parents and brother (mom was recuperating, dad was posted in Sikkim and brother was sent to live with an aunt)
It was quite like living alone, not because I didn’t have anyone, but it just feel like that. My relatives did their best to take care of me. But at eight, when you don’t have your family around, it’s not an emotionally ideal situation for a child.
I learnt to do everything on my own, clean my room, wash my clothes, fold them, make an omelette, pray sincerely, be an autodidact. And also how to hold my tears back while sitting in the waiting room of a hospital.
Looking back, I feel like I aced at being an eight-year-old. But it does break my heart a little knowing that I didn’t get to be a child for just a little bit longer. I kept thinking if I could tell anything to my 8-year-old self, what would have I said. After some thinking, I came up with a list and here it goes.
You are a quirky child, bordering on nuisance and people will remind you of that very often. While all that is true, try not to lose your heart in that criticism. Your healthy inquisitiveness will come in handy in future. And your brashness will help you to stand firmly on your ground someday.
Nevertheless, people will think of you as irritating for wanting attention and companionship. But don’t worry, you are only a child and you will realize later you knew how to be a child but not all grownups know how to be grownups. So, forgive them and all their mean behaviour.
You love dancing, but after you turn 12, you will stop dancing slowly. I hope I could have told you to not stop, regardless of the body issues you might have. Oh. I wish I could tell you that you can dance with your glasses on. It’s not a big deal. You should dance because it makes you happy. That’s it.
You are going to be a huge nerd, so no point running from it. Believe it or not, you are going to make a career out of it. You will read many fantastic books in your life.
But you will start late, much later than you should have had. So, read amazing books in addition to the spiritual books that you now read. In hindsight, though, it seems inappropriate for your age.
You will be a good child, the responsible one and you will have a lot of regrets about that. So, break a few rules and be a child. You don’t have to carry the burden of being ‘good’ all the time.
A few adolescent mistakes won’t change who you are but might end up giving you some colourful memories for life with friends.
You will question a lot because you will often find yourself not understanding gender norms and religious dogmatism. Never stop that.
You owe it to yourself and to the people around you to continue to question and create doubts in the minds of blind followers. And yes, you will fail, but that will be a part of your learning.
You will try, even hate everything that’s vain and seek to be the ‘smart girl’ most of your life. However, even then, vanity will come to you in a big way and it will leave you with a lesson. So, my advice would be to not let yourself be defined by your shortcomings. You will fail a lot, but you will learn a lot too.
You will struggle a lot to fit in, with many different kinds of people and you will fail miserably in your attempts. And you will come to understand that you’re an introvert who takes time to open up and that your personality is an ‘acquired taste.’
So, wait patiently for the right people to come along and don’t doubt yourself for not being ‘normal.’
You will love learning new words and you will love your big, fat, blue Cambridge dictionary. So continue to read that book. You will owe your vocabulary and even possibly your career to the dictionary when you’re older.
You are a tough little cookie and you have more endurance than you realize. So, have faith in yourself to overcome things in your life. You will see many transitions and many hardships, you will see your loved ones go through them too, and you will hopefully survive them all.
So, little one, hold on and get your courage in place. You have much to see and endure. But you’ll do okay.
Your future self.
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credit: Chevanon Photography on Pexels
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