Sitting in my study, looking out the window to the grey of monsoon.

Thundering clouds and cold sharp breeze, makes me wonder about the years that have passed. Just like a painters promise to its blank canvas, it was hindsight’s promise of realization to me.

Lived an itinerant life, my family moved around a lot during my formative growing years. Not an army kid! My dad is in the agriculture industry — shifted through different states, different cities. The constant change in language and culture affected my social acceptance.

It wasn’t overwhelming, but it did outstretch my timeline of figuring myself out.

I looked like a tomboy, yearning to remotely resemble the girl I felt deep down.

With a north Indian father and being the firstborn in the ’90s had its limitations to self-improvement.

Decisions were made for us, small or big, there’s not a say we had.

Thus, began the long wait for adulthood — and when it did come, ah! Through the wait, I had dreams ready, which took a lot more than I originally thought to come to any realistic form.

Having our roots set in a multi-cultured country like India has its own set of ordinances in different societies and it breathes on its cultural ancestry, which we proudly inherit and pass on to the next generation.

Even though it has a modern sight today, we still tend to follow some boundaries of history.

Thus, with each transfer, we stood to abide by the decree of these cultural benchmarks.

My small-town parents were thrown into 2nd tier cities with daughters, over-protective of their daughter, and over-dependent on the rules of society for girls, there was only a certain way I could be — docile & simple.

Raised like a boy, not allowed to grow your hair out long, nor your nails, don’t kohl the eyes while feeling like a hormonal teenage girl. What a flux, ain’t it?

During this eternity, I endeavored my ambitions of being a woman of significance, whose limits subsist to aspire, girls like me.

It was an innocent portrait I imagined of myself and there was a long way to go to achieve it.

So when we first moved to Pune, the city with such a strong cosmopolitan culture (at least the part where we lived), I had a cultural shock.

My mother still chuckles at a memory of me when frustrated, I once wished out loud, I want to be a girly girl. Soon Pune was chosen to be the place we called home permanently and I was determined to put myself through those long wished makeovers.

In all honesty, it took me a while as I had no confidence to speak in English (Everyone around me & in my Protestant Christian School spoke in English). I read a lot though.

Through my appearance, you could deduce- no dressing sense, no inkling whatsoever of being presentable, the only saving grace was being the famous North Indian built, tall, slender, and athletic.

That alone uplifted my impression of new encounters and I guess that was the high point of my known world.

I was aware of all that I lacked and I worked hard to achieve it all.

The foremost step was to learn to love me, and with that trying to be a better version of, every day since.

It was easy to step on to the path laid down for us by the elders as of course, they were comfortable as they knew how to guide us in their known territory. But we all seek our destiny through the impinged and unwavering course to recognize a new edge, maybe that’s why we call it a generation gap in understanding the new rules of society that we believe in and follow.

Never give up on your dreams, it may not seem the right time or the place but if you believe in yourself life will fold it’s way to your destination.

The core is in realizing your dreams and stretching your limits against all odds and achieving the horizon of the thought and living to the best of your capability. Learn to encourage yourself and to be happy in even imperceptible accomplishments. Confidence, self reliability, strong opinions and so much more comes only when you love thy self.

My resources were limited and soon it taught me that what I have will not define who I am but who I become with what I have will determine my true selfIt also taught me to adjust to my reality and work hard to achieve my set goal. So far I only wanted to be a part of the social structure that was around me, tempting me to stand out.

On the other hand, my humble footing was shaping my individuality. Looking back, I feel so proud of how far I have come, the investments I’ve done in myself. Like the artist has a vision of the artwork he wishes to produce & with passion and toil he brings it to life, the young me had a vision of what I wanted to be. I have picked the right colors, layered the right textures, a few failures, a bold stroke to make it unique & voila! A portrait of self that holds strong individuality and essence of creativity that dazzles and only to become better as it ages.

I found poise and fulfilled my desire to be a woman of substance by holding grounds of my lineage, that exposed me to all that we have been and by being honest about what I could be and not giving up to all that I dreamt of becoming.

I stand tall and proud of finding my identity in this mixed throng. Owning the steps of self achievements and dependency on none. It does bring me the satisfaction of being an example I set out to be for those around confused and agitated with the unknown and the only thing I say is to trust yourself. Only you know your deepest desires and hold the strength to achieve them, take a step, and create the masterpiece of self.

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