What is the one thing you wish you knew when you were younger? If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 18-year-old self? In retrospect, what do you believe has been your greatest learning? Hindsight is twenty-twenty, but questions like these are great when you want to pause and reflect on the life you’ve built so far, the world that you’ve shaped so far.
We asked 21 inspiring Indian women, all a part of Levi’s’ #IShapeMyWorld campaign, the same question—what is the one piece of advice you would give your 18-year-old self—and their responses have come together to form a wonderful set of life affirmations that are helpful, no matter how old you are. Read on:
Swara Bhasker, actor
“You don’t HAVE to do anything you don’t want to.”
Neena Gupta, actor
“Time doesn’t come back—don’t waste a single moment of your life.”
Kanchan Daniel, singer
“Value every experience, whether big or small, and the people around you since they will form the fabric of your life and transform you into the person that you can be by bringing you closer to figuring out what’s best for you.”
Malini Agarwal, media entrepreneur
“Don't start by wanting to be a rich-and-famous anything. Close your eyes and imagine the one thing you'd want to do for the rest of your life and find a way to make THAT your career.”
Srishti Dixit, content creator
“Don't hate on other girls and don't say things like 'I'm not like other girls". Take pride in your girlhood.”
Natasha Noel, yoga instructor
"Don’t be ashamed of the weird and crazy in you. THAT is what will connect you to people.”
Sonal Giani, activist
"There is nothing heroic in being stoic. Ask for help when you need it. It is alright to be different. No one changed the world by being ordinary and no one did it alone."
Sandhya Menon, journalist
"Do everything that fires your curiosity and do it for yourself, even if others see it as selfish. Feed the hunger for the things you want to experience instead of thinking that others' needs are bigger than yours."
Gurmehar Kaur, writer and activist
"You don’t have to be like anybody else to shine and there is no need to conform for you to make your place in the world."
Prashasti Singh, comedian
"Laugh at yourself a little more."
Hard Kaur, rapper
"Don’t listen to people. Although I haven’t and I try not to, sometimes people’s opinions hurt. You can’t let that get to you, even though it can be hard."
Kubbra Sait, actor
“There will be many times that you would find yourself confused, lost, searching for answers, trying to be better than who you are today. There may even be times that you want to take a shortcut or lie or deceive people to get hurt. You may just want to hurt people because they hurt you, and that is a perfectly normal feeling to feel but not necessarily a feeling you must action.
Be wise, gracious and sensitive in the actions you take. Be careful in the way you bring yourself up to the decisions you make.
Pay attention to the fact that you not only strengthen your body, but also your flexibility.
Work towards growing your mind; start travelling now before it is too late. Don't wait for a time when you have a lot of money to experience the world; you may have a lot of money but you may not have the time or energy to do this.
Set small goals for yourself, and celebrate the success of every single one of them.
Remember, there is nobody in the world who can love you the way you can love yourself. So, first pay attention to loving yourself; the more you love yourself, the more you will spill over to love the universe.
Make sure you express gratitude and celebrate every moment that you walk and breathe."
Anjali Lama, transgender model
“Sometimes you need to listen to others as well. Good advice comes from people who are close to you, not just your instinct. Your friends, family and lovers sometimes know you better than you know yourself; trusting people around you is as important as trusting yourself. Until you try something you wouldn’t know how to do anything so my biggest advice is if you think of doing something and you think you won’t be good at it you should first try doing it.”
Divya Singh, sportswoman
"Take responsibility of your mistakes and learn. Fear not that mistakes will lead my life to worse, they actually shape you."
Pratima Singh, sportswoman
"Everything falls into place if you work hard enough and with 100% heart. There is nothing to worry about. Do your best and forget the rest."
Prashanti Singh, sportswoman
"Keep working towards your goal regardless of the that things happen in life—good or bad. Don’t be content with success and, at the same time, don’t be restless with failure. Just keep going."
Akanksha Singh, sportswoman
"Success is no accident, it is a continued effort. So choose what you are passionate about and work hard till you excel in it."
Deepti Asthana, photographer
"Nothing is impossible. Don’t be scared to dream bigger. No matter which place you come from or what your background is, there is always a place for one more. And how you own that place totally depends on your passion and hard work. "
Toshada Uma, model
“I don't have much to say to my 18 year old self, it was only two years ago; maybe trust yourself a little more, you're on the right track—you're pursuing your passion as a career, cut yourself some slack, don't take criticism too seriously. As long as you're satisfied in the decisions you're making, everything will be alright!”
Kaneez Surka, comedian
“I would tell my 18-year-old self not to doubt myself so much, oh and tell her to love her freaking body!”
“One thing I would tell my 18-year-old self is a quote that goes, “Be fearless in the pursuit of that which sets your soul on fire.” This is something I do live my life by because the only way in which you will have no regrets is by following your passion.”