Dear 18-year-old Shilpa,
I see you are quite apprehensive and a little wary when it comes to interacting with people. You don’t easily let your guard down and I don’t really blame you for it. After all, your family and friends have always been protective of you and you’ve never really stayed away from home. However, one thing I’d sincerely like to tell you is that it’s a good idea to give people a chance.
Now, you must be wondering who this person is writing a letter to you all of a sudden. Well Shilpa, I’m you, 7 years later. I’ve become wiser, I’ve matured and I write to you drawing from all the experiences I’ve had in these 7 years. Coming back to my little piece of advice to you – give people a chance. You may meet someone interesting in college, at a party, at a family function or somewhere really random. You may feel like you’d like to get to know them better, but you may hesitate because they are a ‘stranger’ and you are not supposed to talk to strangers. But isn’t everyone a stranger until you get to know them?
Shilpa, go forth and strike that conversation. Don’t don your ‘judgmental’ hat or think about what people will say. Be your own judge.
Every person you meet will teach you something new. And chill, I’m not asking you to look for romance in every man you encounter. You are at that age, yes. But that’s not how it works. What matters is how they influence you and vice-versa. If love has to happen, it will, and so will heartbreak. But the fear of heartbreak shouldn’t stop you from meeting new people.
Things will be even more fun when you meet those belonging to different backgrounds and diverse cultures. There may be a clash of opinions and ideas; there may be disagreements. But believe me, every such experience will only make you grow. You won’t and shouldn’t like everyone you meet, but sometimes it is only when our opinions are challenged do we really understand whether and why we really believe in something. I know I’m sounding a little preachy here, but take my word and you won’t regret it.
In these seven years, I’ve realised that few things are as exciting as serendipity and you shouldn’t let unfounded inhibitions hold you back. I’ve come to realise this a little late in life, but when I did, my life only changed for the better. Along the way, I met people, fell in love and went through heartbreak, multiple times at that, and learnt some important life lessons.
Two years ago, a friend suggested I download Tinder and I did, and what an experience it has been. Never had I thought that something as simple as a swipe can introduce me to some of the loveliest, craziest and most interesting people I’ve ever met! Today when I look around myself, I find that some of the most cherished relationships and most treasured memories in my life were born out of a right swipe.
I wish I had learnt to give people a chance earlier in life and that’s when I sat down to write this letter to you.