I was born in a lower-middle-class family. With no siblings to play or to share my crazy thoughts with, I had a rather solitary childhood. As a girl, growing up in a conservative household meant I had to live with a lot of restrictions. Important decisions concerning my interests, emotions and academics were all in others’ hands. They expected me to act mature even at that tender age. They expected me to control my feelings and make sure everyone felt comfortable around me.
During school days, my friends would mock me, ‘Why are you behaving like a 30-year-old lady? You’re a kid. You should enjoy life.’
I would go back home and start acting like a funny teenager. In turn, my parents would ask me to be quiet and behave maturely. These contradictory expectations resulted in me forgetting who I really was. My emotions also took a back seat.
Growing up, when almost all of my friends had a crush on one celebrity or the other, I was obsessed with only man. It was the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He was one of the few leaders who had believed in the power of the youth. One of his quotes became the motto of my life:
All birds find shelter during rain, but the eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds.
I wanted to be an eagle that could fly high above the unreasonable restrictions that seemed to govern every aspect of my life. Soon, I started keeping a distance from my relatives and even some of my toxic friends.
For the first time in life, I turned to a book hoping that it would be the friend I had always sought. I was sixteen at the time, and the book was titled Learning How to Fly by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. I began to realize my true potential. Never in life had I felt so confident. And that is when I learned that books had the solution to everything. I realized that there was nothing wrong with exploring yourself and making mistakes along the way. The more I read, the better I understood my own emotions.
Thereafter, whenever my elders objected to my decisions saying that I knew nothing about life, I would calmly reply, ‘Yes, I do. I have experienced life, not just my own, but that of over twenty authors. I’m fully aware of what I’m doing, and I want to live my life to the fullest.’
I would like to sum up by saying that our emotions and choices should be guided by our own experiences, and not by what others decide about us. And for that, it is important to read as much as one can.
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