To The Beat of Your Own Drum

This piece is inspired by and dedicated to one of my dear friends, Payal Mukerji

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thank you

for reminding me that each year of our lives and getting older doesn’t have to be scary, and that we should embrace it

Do you ever think back to what you thought you wanted in life when you were 8? 12? 17? Wide eyed and always dreaming about the future of what ifs, I can still remember sitting on my dorm room bed at 17 thinking about the life I thought I’d have at 25, or the life I thought I wanted.

How naive was I to think that by 25 I’d have it all figured out. I mean, my 17 year old self would’ve thought that I would be in a completely different chapter of my book by now. I thought my “happily ever after” was going to be a good job and marriage, both of which depend on something or someone else. The first one, I’m definitely grateful to have, but when I think about the second one, I just smile to myself and roll my eyes. I do believe in the powerful institution of marriage, but why did I have to put a time limit on it? It’s because we grow up thinking there’s this human clock for each component of your life. “Do this by 22, be here by 24, have this by 26”, I’ve heard this way too many times in my life and maybe you have as well. It’s this societal and/or cultural pressure of feeling like you need to be at a specific point in your life by a specific age. These pressures and expectations lead us to believe that achieving these milestones by a certain age is the only way to be happy.

I’m actually so grateful that I’m nowhere close to being where I thought life would’ve taken me. Something that I learned along the way, was don’t compare someone’s chapter 20 to your chapter 2. Focus your thoughts and energies on your goals and your happiness, and I promise you that your life will be very fulfilling and you’ll realize the power of YOU and making things happen for YOU, not some stupid societal norm that gets ingrained into your mind from an early age.

We’re often told during our developmental years, to do things a certain way and at a certain time. While it’s extremely important to take listen to the people who love you and are trying to help you, remember to not put so much pressure on yourself to hitting those far-fetched, irrelevant milestones if they don’t deem fit into your life. Instead, start by making a yearly plan for yourself. What is it that you hope to accomplish, learn, try, visit, experience? You can revisit this plan as many times as you want throughout the year, and at the end, it’s interesting to look back and see how it all turned out for you. This is the most therapeutic exercise I do for my mind every January.

So don’t mull over the chapters and stories of your own book when they seem out of order. It’s okay if you’re not where you thought you would be, because this is an opportunity to look at where you actually are. Maybe you found your true passion and boldly followed your happiness which opened unimaginable doors, maybe you went on a journey that left you changed forever, or maybe met some incredible people in your city that helped with your personal growth.

Just live your authentic life and do what makes you happy. If it comes, let it. If it goes, let it.

never rush to unfold

the contents of your heart.

you are a strange flower

in bloom,

don’t let them pick and name you

before you have

the chance to blossom.

Don’t let these antiquated beliefs on what you should be doing dictate how you choose to navigate through life. You don’t have to follow the status quo, in fact, I challenge you to break against these norms, these barriers because all they do is confine you.

So here I am at 25, wide eyed & dreaming, but this time about the present. Keep stargazing, stomping to the beat of your own drum, and follow the path that leads you to yourself...


Shanti Reddy