Letter to My 20-Year-Old Self: Lessons in Life

A letter to my 20-year-old self

When you look back, do you wish you had done things differently?

Remember that time when your favourite singer was performing live in the city? You were dying to go, but your semester exams were starting that day. You were in a dilemma. Eventually, you went to the concert, only to return home to disappointed parents who had found out about your little adventure. Now when you look back, do you wish you had done things differently? Unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine, yet, so we can’t turn the clock back and rewrite the past. What we can do, however, is accept the bygone and learn from our mistakes. In an effort to find closure for those mistakes-laden, impulsive, youthful days, here’s an open letter to you, my 20-year-old self.

Dear starry-eyed girl,

You must be in your second year of engineering now. Knowing your academic skills, I am confident you will pass through the rigmarole of engineering and graduate with flying colours. However, while doing so, don’t forget to enjoy your life. You don’t ever have to sacrifice your present-day happiness for the sake of ‘someday’ euphoria. Don’t feel guilty when you bunk classes to catch a matinee with your friends. Don’t hesitate to binge on TV shows all night long and wake up groggy for classes the next day. Play loud music and dance to your heart’s content. Go on adventurous road trips, try different cuisines and make new friends. Not that good grades or lectures aren’t important, they certainly are. But, the memories you create with your friends are important too.

Over the next couple of years, you’ll be preparing for a career in the corporate world. But here’s the thing: no matter how many books you study or prepare for the interview, you’ll first need to crank up your confidence level—that’s the foundation. Of course, you’ll learn this lesson the hard way. You’ll probably fail in a couple of interviews, see your friends getting placed in good companies. But, hang in there. Eventually, you’ll figure out where you’re going wrong—you’re probably trying so hard to impress the interviewer that you’re coming across as fake. So, keep it real. Once you realise this, you will get placed in the company that’s right for you.

“…I wish to thank my dear 20-year-old-self for initiating me on this rollercoaster of a journey. Thank you for allowing me to learn those life lessons the hard way.”

However, after a brief stint in the corporate world, your life is going to lose any semblance of predictability. Brace yourself, for, at the very least, impulsive decisions are going to turn your world topsy-turvy. You will explore diverse career paths, and learn that you can achieve anything in life when you set your heart to it. But, you will still continue to seek answers to the million-dollar question what is it that I want to do in life, anyway? Only a decade later (when you’re around my age), will you even get the wisdom to connect the dots and find the answer. Until then, trust your intuition and walk where your heart leads you to. As poet Rumi said, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you love, it will not lead you astray.” It, certainly, hasn’t led me astray.

Somewhere along this journey of studying and between jobs, distractions in the form of the opposite sex will also cross your path. You might like one, but you will fall in love with someone else. This one person is likely to be a bright young chap—intelligent and good-looking—and will show an equal interest in you. You are head over heels in love with him and are wistfully dreaming of a fairy-tale wedding with your prince charming. But here’s the thing: deep down, for some reason, you don’t believe you are good enough for him. Warning: your dream or expectations may not match his and if you ask for too much, too soon, you might just become insecure and repel him, all at once. Ideally, you should take things slow, ask yourself why you lack confidence, especially around him, and take your time to acknowledge your self-worth. But, I know that you’re so caught up in this romance, you won’t listen to me. So, go ahead, make your mistakes and have your heart broken into a thousand pieces. For, it is only then that you’ll learn the importance of loving yourself before you love others.

Having moved on to the next decade, I wish to thank my dear 20-year-old-self for initiating me on this rollercoaster of a journey. Thank you for allowing me to learn those life lessons the hard way. As you, too, will soon discover, life is not easy, but it will certainly be extraordinary, just the way you want it to be. Rest assured that even if I find a way to go back in time and re-live my life, I’d do the same things all over again. I regret none of it. So, don’t fret about making mistakes. Instead, always take that leap of faith and you’ll eventually learn to wade through it all, just like I did. I assure you, in the end, it is all worth it.

Yours reassuringly,



What dilemma did the 20-year-old self face in the past?

The 20-year-old self faced a dilemma when her favourite singer was performing live in the city on the same day as her semester exams. She wanted to attend the concert, but she also had exams to attend. Eventually, she chose to go to the concert, which resulted in her disappointed parents finding out about her little adventure.

What is the advice to her 20-year-old self about preparing for a career in the corporate world?

While preparing for a career in the corporate world, one should focus on cranking up her confidence level, as it forms the foundation for success.

How does the writer advise her 20-year-old self about relationships and self-worth?

The writer warns her 20-year-old self about romantic distractions and falling in love with someone she might not believe she is good enough for. She advises her to take things slow, acknowledge her self-worth, and avoid being too hasty.


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