Young & Dumb: Things I wish I’d known when I was 13

Reposting this series from my old blog, which has now been shut down, because it was too embarrassing 😛

I am so grateful I kept a diary when I was younger, because I can look back at my extraordinary anxieties and laugh at how idiotic I sound(ed) – just like when I read my older posts on this blog.

Being Aunty Satshya

Call this wisdom, or just nostalgia but these are some things I’ve come to understand with age. (How I have longed to say that! And yikes! I’m old enough to say that now!)

This nugget of thought grew when I met one of my nieces after ages. She’d grown up so much I almost didn’t recognise her! (It’s funny how I used to get that all the time and absolutely hated it. And now I’m one of those constantly surprised aunties) She looked like a smart, grown-up beautiful young girl. I remember her being a very confident young child and she still sounded just as confident.

And then I discovered how older people felt when they constantly cribbed about the new-age vocabulary and how limiting it is. She said my phone was AWESOME (he he, I know), my hair colour was AWESOME (aaw shucks) and that my dress was AWESOMEE (thanks, that made all the harassing-the-tailor worth it).

Then she said I wish I was pretty like you.

And I said hold onnnnn, what are you talking about?! You are so pretty! And she pushed her glasses up her eyes, blinked and said a resolute, “No, I’m not”.

Flashback Funda

And I had a total flashback moment. And this is for any pre-teen/teenage girl reading this. We all go through the rough phase where we intensely dislike what we look like and wish we could look like someone else. Some have shorter phases than others, where they magically look amazing and so sorted in life. A lot of my friends were like that. They never seemed to go through an ugly duckling phase and just zoomed right to graceful swans. (Lizane Tanya D’Souza, I’m looking at you)

And if you’re like me, you’ll spend a lot of time staring at the mirror wondering if you’d ever get out of the awkward phase where your face decides to get oily and grow strange bumps and your body just seems to have so much fat on your thighs.

Sidenote: Why do they call it baby fat anyway? It magically appears right at the moment you want to feel grownup.

I really didn’t know what to do with my hair, and cut my own bangs and looked dreadful. I had the weirdest glasses ever (Read: Harry Potter-inspired) and the body just wouldn’t remain graceful or slim. I also seemed to lose my voice (and as it appears my brain) when cute boys were around.

And yes, I cannot recollect the number of times I have wished I looked like someone else. Thinner arms, or prettier eyes, or even just better hair. I remember cutting out pictures of female celebrities and making a collage out of it and holding it against my face while looking at the mirror, and lamenting, why oh why do I look like this!

A nose like Megan Fox, hair like pre-bald Britney, skin like Kareena – oh the list goes on. I even made a drawing of what I wanted to look like when I was 19, strongly resembling a Sk8er Boi-esque Avril Lavigne. And oh not to forget the endless diary entries entreating God to make me attractive, witty and less sweaty.

But now that I look back on it, I’m glad. I didn’t have fair skin because I was so tanned from playing volleyball after school. It was through volleyball that I met the girls who are my closest friends today. (And that’s why I can count volleyball as the ONE sport I play.)

“Nerd! Nerd!”

I got called a nerd a gazillion times. I remember once we had a digital camera at my friend’s house and we were taking group photos. We were a huge group from school and then they called out my name and two other girls’ names. I thought it was because we had won the 1st place in a huge inter-school quiz and happily posed.

Suddenly everyone started chanting, “Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!”. I felt so humiliated. I came home and cried my heart out. What I thought was an appreciation of intelligence was just cruel ridicule. Who wants to embody the nerd stereotype in high school? A: NO ONE.

But hey, that’s why I remember random stuff now and it gives me the confidence that if I can be a nerd then, I totally can now, when I actually need to know these things. Post-grad made me regret not being nerdy enough. I now wish I took part in more debates and quizzes and I regret holding back just to validate someone’s opinion of me.

It’s like those lessons of life that everyone drones on about and you just roll your eyes at. All that worry about your looks? IT DOESN’T MATTER. Your skin will clear out, your hair will find its comfortable voice through a series of weird haircuts and you will eventually learn what works for you. Like how kohl on your lower lids is a waste of time because

a) it just makes your already big eyes look massive.

b) it spreads everywhere so it’s a permanent mess.

Just like your life after college. He he he jk. (i’m not)

Keep Learning, Kids!

You’ll learn that it is way more gratifying to hear a boy say he respects you than him calling you hot. And that people are going to talk about you no matter what – whether you’re the prettiest girl around or the shy one. It’s ok to feel bad about a ridiculous rumour you’ve heard about yourself, but don’t let that alter your actions or define your decisions.

And most importantly (and I cannot stress this enough) LEARN all you can. You have all the time and enthusiasm and active neurons at this very moment. Learn a new language, or a dance style or join a choir (things I wish I had done). Just learn and absorb as much as you can from the place and people around you. Try to travel to places nearby – my trip to Hampi led me to appreciate the History lessons I had in school and my State as well. Read, read, READ. When you leave your hometown – you’ll meet people with similar interests, and who share your taste in strange literature.

Never stop aiming high. There’s this Hindi phrase I learnt a few days ago – apne aukaat mein raho. It means stay within your limits. But that’s exactly how you stagnate. Never stop at just a leap – take a dive into the exciting unknown. People are going to snort at you, call you a nerd.  It’s ok, to each his own.

In a couple of years those people will be coming to you for advice. And never hold past grudges – everyone had their stupid immature moments. Breathe in all that hurt and let it all out with a huge whoooosh.

It’s easy to look pretty. Some colours and brushes can transform anyone in a few minutes. But a kind, beautiful, complex, analytical and unique brain – that takes ages. So decide wisely what you want to invest your time and youth in, you won’t get it back.

Neither will you get this epic pose

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