Dearest 22-year-old Radhika,
You have just reached New York City to start grad school at Pratt Institute of Art and Design. This is the most excited and confident that you have ever been! After 4 horrible years of undergrad school, you are finally where you belong. So make the most of it. These 2 years will be the most interesting and memorable years of your life and you will forever long to return to New York. So soak it all in, in these coming years so that it will last you a lifetime.
Don’t be afraid to make friends. This has been your Achilles heel for so long. And if you don’t learn now, you never will. So take the effort, go the extra mile and create some lasting friendships. Don’t be shy when it comes to talking to strangers. Talk to them at school, in class, at the subway station, in the subway, on the train to your uncle’s house.
You are living in one of the most happening city that there ever will be. So go out and explore. If you don’t have company, go alone. Volunteer with organisations that will help you understand the city. Move out of your comfort zone. Try new experiences. Take those tap dance lessons that you so desperately wanted to. Learn belly dance while you are still thin and can show-off your midriff with pride. Visit the museums in the city. Instead of binge watching crap on YouTube and Hulu, go out. Visit the parks, visit the museums, go to a bar so that you can interact with someone new.
Speaking of bars, don’t be such a goody-two-shoes. New York and Nashik are as different as day and night. No one cares here. So drink. Try those shots that you keep eyeing. Pick up the courage to try a drinking game. Don’t worry about hangovers. You are too much of a wuss to have more than a couple of drinks. And once you realise that the only cocktail you like is a frozen margarita, stick to it. Drink them often because once you return to Nashik, there will be no decent margaritas. That’s another reason that you will long to return to New York! The Margaritas and the Sushi. So eat that up too!
Take writing and blogging seriously. You always gave up when the going got tough. 10 years down the line, you will still be dreaming of being a writer and blogger. So stick to it. Even if it means simply documenting your day, do it. You will thank me later. Also take that class on interactive design. It may seem too technical and complicated right now, but later it will save your life. Trust me I know.
Also your biggest concern right now is the amount of money that you father is spending on your masters. Sure, you will remain eternally grateful to him for all of this but don’t let that gratitude and fear hold you back. Your father will tell you about a thousand times to not worry about the money and to travel. Just listen to the man. The money will come. Well, slowly. But it will. And if you spend 4 months, cooped up in a hot NYC apartment with no AC, simply applying for jobs during a recession, and fretting over how much you are spending, you will regret it for the rest of your life. I know I am.
Take this time to travel. See other places in the US. Travel to visit your cousin in Seattle. Email design studios to ask if you can visit their office just to see how they work. Travel to different states and see or talk to the founders of those design studios! Call up [ Ok Fine, Email] your idols and ask them if you can shadow them for a day. If you are so in love with the work that SwissMiss [Tina Roth Eisenberg] does or in awe of the lettering that Jessica Hische does, simply ask them if you can observe them for a day! They are right there in Brooklyn! You will never get another chance like this EVER!!!
Once you grow older, you will forever feel you are between the age of 22 and 24 and secretly relive these days in your head. So spend these 2 years without fear and anxiety. Explore and exploit this wondrous city because if you don’t, you will never forgive yourself!
Love from the future,
32 year old Radhika!
PS – Don’t worry about Kuldeep. You are meant to for each other and will end up together, no matter what!
Feature Image from Unsplash. Edited by Radhika