an open letter to my 17 year old self.

Arushi Tandon
5 min readAug 19, 2018

I have contemplated writing this for a while now — never actually putting pen to paper. Just contemplating it. But last night, I had an epiphany of sorts wherein I realised how much my life has changed in the past 5 years. My 17-year-old self could not have imagined in her wildest of dreams that she would be where she is now, at 22. Back then, she was full of self-hate, bottled up with confusion to the brim, absolutely and blissfully unaware of so many things.

Things have substantially changed now, so here goes nothing…

Dear Arushi,
You’re so naive and pure right now. All you want is good — for yourself and for everyone around you. Half the time, you don’t even realise that there are people in your life who don’t always want the same for you, yet you want only good for them. That’s what makes you so special. Yes, it’ll make you suffer. I hate to say it, but things are gonna get A LOT WORSE before they get A LOT BETTER.

Your life has always been nothing short of an adventure, you’re well aware of it. You’ve stumbled and fallen, you’ve struggled to win the fight with your own demons from a very young age and as much as it sucks, it’s what makes you stronger — whether you realise it or not. Every day that you refuse to give in to your demons, every day that you take a step to take care of yourself, you make yourself stronger and your life better. Trust me.

You’re extremely confused right now and you feel scared because you don’t know what the future holds for you. As far as academics are concerned, you’ll be fine. I promise. You’re gonna go to the university you’ve dreamed of for so long and even though it won’t be a bed of roses, you’ll learn some of the biggest lessons in life while you’re there and meet some of the best people you’ve ever known.

In the next five years, you will go through hell and come out of it all the same. You will come to realise your actual potential and who you really are, but you will also feel more lost than ever because you have learned the most important lesson ever — nothing is static or set in stone, nothing is forever, life is unpredictable as fuck and you’ve been trying to force yourself into a mould for so long, trying to fit in, when you were never meant to. Your path is widely different from everyone else’s and as soon as you realise that, you will find inner peace like you have never felt before.

It’s not to say that the demons just vanish one day, you don’t wake up feeling “cured”. But it gets better. It definitely does. You learn to deal with yourself, you learn to love yourself — unconditionally and irrevocably. You learn to stop being so mean to yourself, and you realise a kindness within you that only existed externally, suddenly it exists internally too.

You will embrace the uncertainty of life and attempt to live in the present and the now. It’s going to take time and it’s not going to be easy considering you’ve spent most of your teenage stuck in a future that didn’t exist. But you will get there. And before you realise, you will stop searching for your “purpose” in life, you will let it find you instead. You’re gonna give yourself space to figure yourself and your life over time and at 22, you don’t have shit figured out but you’re okay with it now. You’ve actively stopped labelling yourself or justifying the choices you are making for yourself now. And that’s kinda awesome.

Oh, and you’re comfortable in your own skin now. Sounds wild? It’s true. You finally stopped giving a fuck about what people thought/said about your body and embraced it for what it was — imbued with its flawless imperfections.

You have finally come to terms with the fact that your YOU is very different from the ideal YOU that you always hoped for because that ideal YOU was influenced by all external factors, it was never something internal in you. But now that you’ve accepted the fact that you can be an indecisive, fickle minded piece of shit at times, you’re coming to not let it influence your actions as it did before.

You’re very intelligent. I swear. You are aware of more things than a lot of people combined just because you didn’t let your thirst for knowledge die. Your values are very different now than they were back then but it’s only for the better, you’ve embraced yourself in totality and in this moment, you know exactly what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not okay with it.

Don’t let people and things get to you — they’re all too trivial. And take care of yourself. Lay off that junk food while you can, you’re gonna regret it in a few years. And stop overthinking every goddamn thing. Just do it. If it feels right, go for it. If it doesn’t, fuck it.

You are figuring a lot of things out for yourself right now and you will continue doing that 5 years from now as well. It’s okay. Give yourself time. Don’t fixate on anything since you know you’re too wild-hearted to be tamed. Let it go and let it flow. Let life happen.

And most importantly, it’s okay to not be okay. Just remember not to let your worth be dictated by numbers because I know you do, and you will continue to for the next few years but your weight, marks, the number of followers/friends doesn’t matter at all. As long as you’ve got that sense of peace within you (which you will in 5 years), everything else will seem so small and insignificant you’ll laugh in the face of adversity.

Stay strong, my love. You’ve got this.