Once upon a time, there was a little girl who truly understood the purpose of life. Once, while playing a board game, she was asked a very pertinent question- What would you choose? Fame, money or happiness? The smart little girl chose happiness. She could not care less about fame and money. In her own little way, she was happy. She was doing what children do- playing with Barbies and G.I. Joe, spending her princely pocket money on pencils, erasers and chocolate and collecting stickers. Even then, despite everything she was going through, she found a way to stay happy. She had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up and she was, fortunately, never asked. She had no aspirations to become a nurse, a teacher or the richest woman in India- she was simply happy! She lost herself in Enid Blytons and the occasional Roald Dahl. She could read endlessly about the Enchanted Wood or the Five Find-Outers. Once she graduated to Malory Towers and St. Clare’s, she knew she had to go to boarding school. So, she studied hard for her entrance exams, learnt wrong math and managed to get through to the boarding school of her choice.
Of course, it was a far cry from Malory Towers and St. Clare’s. There was no running water, no midnight feasts and she was forced to eat her porridge every single day. She did well in school and was fortunate enough to do well effortlessly. She soon grew to love her school. School will always hold a special place in her heart. In some ways, it was where she was her most carefree. She dreamt endlessly and thought about saving the world. She even fell in love when she was in school. It was a wonderful time. It was in school that she realised that she wanted to travel. It began with a suggestion from another friend that we should go backpacking across Europe after school. She thought it was a wonderful idea and she broached the subject with her parents who gave their approval. She graduated school and surprised herself by not crying. She was looking forward to the next stage of her life. By this time, she had also decided that she wanted to become a lawyer. Of course, she set her sights on the best college in the country.
This was the first time life caught up with her. She decided to forego her dream of backpacking across Europe to go through coaching class to help her get into her college of choice. Of course, she did. By this time, she was beginning to realise that she is very lucky and seems to be getting everything she wants. Her parents were so proud of her they threw a party in her honour. She was walking on air. Life couldn’t be better- the best law college in the country, completely in love and the promise of better things to come. At 18, she had it all and the world was her’s to take.
The bright girl went into college with her eyes shining and confident that she would do well in college also. Unfortunately, college was a testing experience, in the beginning. She was homesick, confused and completely disoriented. For a change, she realised she actually had to work hard to do well. She didn’t work hard and she didn’t do well. She stopped trying after a while. Soon, college became fun. She made some fantastic friends and she finally felt that she was in the right place. She broadened her horizons, she understood the world better and she grew even more cynical. However, she continued to cherish her dream to go backpacking across Europe and decided that once college was over, she would do exactly that before she started working. College was also when her relationship came to an end though it would be years before it actually ended.
By the end of college, this girl was longing for change- she realised that she had gotten everything she could out of college and needed to move on. She managed to land her dream job in her dream city and once again, life seemed to be on track. However, this time around also, she did not manage to go backpack across Europe. No matter, she decided that once she starts working, she will save up money and go on a trip. She even planned an itinerary.
The girl enjoyed working. She enjoyed her freedom and having her own place to do what she damn well pleased. She enjoyed waking up in the morning and all the intellectual stimulation she was getting. She began to love her life. Life was still on track. Unfortunately, something started troubling her. She kept wondering whether this was all life was. She stopped enjoying her work. She spent all her free time watching movies and anime. She even started reading less. She started spending money on buying a whole lot of things. Somehow, disillusionment had set in and she started feeling that she needed to get out. Things seemed hopeless and it seemed as if going backpacking across Europe is never going to happen.
She decided to quit her job and go on a sabbatical for an indefinite period of time. She had all these wonderful plans of learning French, learning dance, teaching children etc. and not one of them materialised. She got depressed and wanted nothing more than to spend her days in bed. She wanted nothing more than to run away from her life. She spent 8 hours a day watching television. She tried to shut out the world. She stopped speaking to her friends. She stopped wanting to go out. She felt hopeless. Nobody seemed to understand what she was going through. It was one of the worst periods of her life.
She went to Bangkok for one week. She was so happy. She actually took pains to dress well. She wanted to get out of bed everyday (despite the bed being the most comfortable one she had ever slept in). She reveled in exploring a new city. She even survived on Pad Thai and Green Curry for several days. She was happy. She experienced something new everyday. She saw a sex show, went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, saw the Reclining Buddha and walked along the lanes of Sukhumvit at 2 in the morning. She even got herself a couple of massages. She felt free. She cried all the way back home. She liked who she was in that strange city. She enjoyed her trip.
Upon coming back, she was extremely depressed for several days. She bought a copy of The Rough Guide to First Time Around the World and decided that that is what she would do- travel around the world and work her way through it. She started reading up on it. She got discouraged very soon- unfortunately, nobody seemed to want to hire Indians to teach English. She decided that she had no choice but to go back to being a lawyer. Everything seemed hopeless. She was also running out of savings.
Fortunately, she was then told that she had to go on bed rest since she had tendonitis. With nothing to do but spend time on the internet, she googled ‘follow your dreams’. A host of websites showed up. She started reading and she continued reading. She realised that there was an alternative. She realised that it was possible to follow her dreams. She decided to start her very own blog. She spent days procrastinating over it and then she finally did it. She started writing regularly and she started sharing her fears. She, finally, felt at peace. She understood that she had made the right decision in deciding to follow her dreams. She had never been happier.
Unfortunately, following your dreams is not easy. She is still plagued by fear, uncertainty and hopelessness. She does not have a set path to follow. She does not know what she is going to do once her meagre savings run out. She has a host of ideas but does not know what to do with them. She is scared that life will catch up again. She has never been more terrified. However, unlike other times, she is determined to follow through this time. She is determined to think like the little girl she once was- to be happy despite everything and to take pleasure in the small things in life. She wants to be happy over everything else. She has no idea what she will be once she ‘grows’ up and hopes that no one will ask her. She is going to find a path or create one if she has to.
She is going to make sure things are different this time. She is going to travel till she is sick and tired of it. She is going to follow her dreams, come what may. She wants to have a happy ending- she needs to have a happy ending. There has to be a ‘happily ever after’.