I believe it would be rude to start with anything but a hearty birthday wish. So, first and foremost, the happiest birthday to you and congratulations on making it through the first quarter of your life (here’s to hoping that you’re able to hit a century).
Now, let’s take a deep breath and reflect on all that needs reflecting on. Much has happened in your life since you drew your first breath in this world. You’ve been made to question your place and your identity, in this society; every step of the way. You’ve been hurt, torn down, harassed, molested, heckled at, bullied, insulted and humiliated. You’ve also been loved, supported, complimented, inspired and looked up to. There have been numerous bad days, hellish even, but you’ve seen some tremendously beautiful days, too.
The past years have been a series of highs and lows. With all the stress-eating, weight gaining, multiple breakdowns, getting a masters degree and finding people who love you beyond words. Yeah, life didn’t pan out exactly the way you had wanted it to, you don’t have your dream job or your own business, you’re far from having your own place and buying your own car. However, if you look back it hasn’t been all that bad, either. As Rafiki from the movie, The Lion King, has rightly said “The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it”.
Let’s admit it, we tried the bolting method and it didn’t work so well. How about trying to endure it all and coming up with a plan B? There is no denying that a lot of time, effort and preparation went into making things work according to our original plan, our plan A, but I’m starting to realise that our goals do not have to change just because we couldn’t achieve them the way we had originally planned.
If you tap into Google Maps and type in a location you want to get to, more often than not the GPS is going to show you multiple ways to reach your destination. Sometimes, there’s a traffic jam, other times there maybe a road block, there are instances where another driver’s actions may hinder with our plans of reaching the destination on time or we might miss an exit; the GPS will redirect us, the journey might be prolonged, it might be slightly confusing, the system may ask you to take a route you’re completely unaware of, but you will eventually reach your destination. Life is rather similar to a GPS, only there is no automated voice directing us. The key to getting to a destination is to keep moving, there’s no point wallowing about a missed exit or a road block, find another route. If we don’t change our destinations due to hurdles on the road, why do we think that we have to change what we believe is our destiny because of difficulties?
There’s one thing that has really been bothering me lately, why don’t you play basketball anymore? You love it, you know you crave for it, you know that just stepping into a court makes you happy, picking up the basketball, dribbling it and aiming for the hoop comes naturally to you and it feels so damn good. Why don’t you play more? Why don’t you dance as often as you use to and write as much as you did? Pick up that basketball, get on Youtube and get choreographing, start with penning down your thoughts if words don’t come to you as easily as they use to.
We know that we have dreams that we seem to be failing at achieving and nothing seems to be making any sense, right now. In fact, on the contrary, everything seems to be falling apart but that doesn’t mean it would remain that way forever. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. That most definitely does not mean that you have to give up on your dreams.
We’ve spent enough time crying about what isn’t and what should have been. From now on, let’s try and focus on what is and what can be done. You’ve got to be more grateful about the things you’ve been blessed with, young lady. Let’s start with taking care of your health, for only a healthy body and mind can yield fruitful outcomes. Eat properly, work out, read good books, watch good movies, listen to music, create good content and do what makes you happy. Take time out for some meditation, take time out to get your body in a healthier shape, take time out and make a list of all the things we’re thankful for. Maybe maintain a gratitude journal? We ought to make up for all the negativity by starting to count our blessings. It’s about time we stop hurting over people who aren’t in our lives anymore and start focusing on those who have stuck around. On days you have a creative block, just write a letter to one of the mains in your life, thanking them, letting them know that they’re important.
Caring comes naturally to you, don’t think of it as your weakness. Yeah, you care about plants and trees, take up gardening as a hobby and enlighten young minds around you. You care about recycling and littering; recycle, reduce wastage and spread awareness about it, you never know who you can be influencing with your words and actions. You care about stray animals and abandoned pets, extend your help in whichever way you can to provide for them. You’ve been meaning to turn vegetarian after having consumed meat for almost 22 years of your life, it can be daunting but you can always give it a try and see if it works for you. Don’t worry about what others have to say about it. You care for people, do what you can, whenever you can to help them. It doesn’t matter if there’s a sorry lot out there giggling at you, do what you believe in. Care, love, help and have faith.
Dad was right when he said that nothing in this world is free, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be a part of this barter system. You can give with no expectations of taking anything back for yourself, as long as no one takes advantage of your efforts and affection.
Lastly, remember, who you are and where you want to be. There will always be people who will tell you that your dreams are unrealistic, people who will belittle you and make you feel small, people who will focus on your weaknesses and your mistakes. They are noisee, and you ought to treat them so. Focus on those who appreciate you, those who appreciate your work, your efforts, those who believe in you and genuinely want to see you progress. Drown all the negativity out and surround yourself with positivity, you need it. Everyone needs it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you become indifferent to people’s feedbacks and criticism. You’ve got to identify your weaknesses and work on them just as much as you must work on your strengths, if not more. Each problem, each failed plan, each hurdle and bad experience is a learning curve, treat it like a lesson not the reality of your life. Irrespective of what people have to say about it.
Don’t let anyone tell you who you are and how you must behave. Do not believe anyone else’s opinion on your place in this world. You decide where you stand, you decide what you must do and you decide who you are. In the end, all that I’m going to say to you, going forward, is that just don’t ever give up on yourself, don’t stop believing in what you’re capable of doing. Don’t hold on to things; memories and people that hurt you. Don’t let your fire burn out. Don’t stop living. Don’t you ever stop loving yourself.
Breathe, be happy and spread joy. Welcome to Level 2 of your life, congratulations on making it this far, I’m proud of all that you’ve achieved and even more proud of the person you’ve become. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for yet another roller coaster, let’s have our fingers crossed and hope for a fun ride. I gift to you, a more matured, responsible, happier, driven and healthier Shifali; Fifi 2.0, The Boss Lady, The Queen of Slay, The Ever so Extra and extravagant bundle of cuteness.
You can spoil her with all the good, but don’t you dare ruin her.