It’s my birthday today, and I can’t tell you how much I miss you. It’s around ten years in the future and life is not quite as you imagined. I think it is essential to talk to you because no one will you tell you the things that I am going to write in this letter, not even Mom, whom you practically worship. You may not know it, but you’re a smart little girl. Through my experience, you are the best and the worst at the same time, but most importantly, you are a fighter. That, my dear, will keep you going.
One of your best qualities is to always place yourself first when it comes to happiness. I have seen through years of encounters that although you wish you were more compliant and submissive and feel that life would be much easier if you let go, you stand strong for your principles and never waiver. In this process, you will unwittingly hurt other people sometimes and the guilt of that will haunt you periodically but know that it is fine, it is not your mistake, because you try your best to make up for it.
Right now you are a pataka, a bold and bubbly performer for whom going on stage is child’s play. But slowly as you hit puberty, things will, for a while, start going downhill. You hit puberty very young, so be prepared. Your friends are going to be more ideally beautiful than you. You will fall ill frequently, but that’s totally okay. You are not weird, your body is growing and it is becoming a part of your extraordinary identity. You are too concerned about your image during this time. Don’t be, focus on improving, not achieving, and whatever you create or perform, whether good or bad, is ultimately yours – and that’s what makes it special.
There will come a time when you will become a ‘tomboy’ with short hair, sporty attire, a dire need to make guy friends and wearing the ‘I’m not like other girls’ tag proudly, like a crown.
Skip. That. Phase.
You have seen the gender inequality around you and subconsciously are trying to act like a boy or man so that you can establish yourself as strong, unwavering and opinionated. You do not need to do that. You are a woman and you are beautiful. You don’t need to comply with female stereotypes, nor do you need to act like a man to be strong. You just are. Remember all the other girls are uniquely beautiful too.
I know you have eyes for that beautiful grey-eyed boy in your class, and you are not wrong, but also remember you have a trait of sticking to toxicity. You often overlook those who make an effort for you, don’t do that. You can love anyone and it will never be wrong. Even now, you struggle with loving too much. You fall hard, love hard and hurt hard when it is not reciprocated and not portraying these emotions or not sharing them doesn’t make you stronger; it is foolish and only adds to your stress.
Right now, you know nothing about feminism, but when you grow up, you will become an unwavering and beautiful feminist. You will abandon worshipping your mother’s ideas and develop your own principles. You will correct xenophobic, racist and sexist jokes and challenge the cis-het normative society in your own way.
I never said it was going to be easy. You will be taunted and called too young, too immature, too bold, too rebellious, but you will get through it.
You will wish for a partner to say those very loving words to you that you see in your favourite Bollywood movie, it will not necessarily happen. Learn to be kind to yourself, say encouraging words and on lonely nights, let the music and your pillow lull you to sleep. Don’t be afraid of letting go of friendships due to differences. You will find people who will fill your life in ways you couldn’t even imagine.
You have so much to do in life, baby, don’t ever give up. You and each woman, whatever sexuality and shape and size they may be, are meant for a cause bigger than ourselves in this patriarchal and hateful society. It’s a long shot, but we can’t stop without trying.
Remember, I love you no matter what!
– Your future self
Swonshutaa Dash is a student from Mumbai, India. She is an aspiring journalist and a trained professional Bharatnatyam dancer and debate enthusiast. Follow her blog on @feat.stressedkanya on Instagram for more.