“Wait Till You’re 21 !”

This is what my father said to me when I was 13.. You want to smoke? Get a tattoo? Get laid? Go to a movie alone with a boy? Get married? Pick a life partner? Wait till you’re 21 ! I didn’t understand it. I knew my mind wouldn’t change. I knew who I was and I swore I will always be that person.

But I waited. Not for all those things, but for most of it, I did. Out of respect for my father’s words. Out of curiosity to see what would change. Also, because I never got the chance to try certain things until I turned 21.

When I was 15, my parents said, “Don’t do anything that you can’t take back.” I thought my decisions were well thought of at that point in time and didn’t really think I’d ever want to take them back.

When I was 17, my classmate eloped with a man ten years older than her. My parents talked about how wrong it was. Back then, the only bad thing I thought wrong in that entire ordeal was “eloping.” I thought she could have asked her parents’ permission to get married instead of running away.

When I was 18, my boyfriend told me, “Your friends might do a gazillion different things. But do note, they’re all older than you. So wait. Wait another year or two. See how you feel about things then. Your mind will change, my love. I promise.” He was a psychiatrist, so I decided to believe him.

Now, I’m 21. Last night, I sat with my father and had a long conversation where I, very very regretfully had to admit, he had been right. I am glad I took his advise and waited.

I’m not the person I was at 15. At 15, I thought I knew it all. But even now, I’m only learning about myself.

Now I know, the fact that my classmate “eloped” wasn’t what was wrong. The fact that she got married at 17 was. There are things you only learn about yourself and the world with time. With life experiences comes maturity. A guy once told my dad that astrologically it’s better to get me married before I turn 19. I was so excited ! I couldn’t wait. When 19 happened, I asked my dad if I could get married and he said “Wait. Wait till you’re 21. If you want to get married at 21, come ask me and I’ll give you permission.” I don’t know why, but I didn’t rebel. I believed if he insisted so much, he must have a point. My curiosity took over my excitement. Two years will go by pretty fast and in no time, I’ll be married, I thought to myself.

On my 21st birthday, my dad asked me if I wanted to get married. I freaked out. I had a life, a goal, an ambition ! I wanted to make something out of myself before I could settle down. How do I share a life I don’t have, with someone? I still live with my parents. I have no job. My career is yet to begin. When the guy requests me to tell him about myself, I wonder “Who am I?” It’s the most difficult question in a resume even. But above all, I was immature. I still am. I am not ready to make a choice I can’t take back. (I do not believe in divorce.)

At 17, she wasn’t ready to get married. Her brain wasn’t done growing. Her life hadn’t really begun for her to be able to share it with someone. She didn’t know that. She didn’t have the maturity to know that.

All that was fancy at 18, I now don’t like. I don’t judge my friends for living their lives the way they did. But I’m not them. I don’t want to do what they did.

It’s funny when you think about it. In certain ways, you’re exactly who you were as a teenager. In some ways, you couldn’t be more different.

I still want a tattoo but not now. I know it’s ok to smoke. But not in public because the society I live in will blame my parents for not raising their daughter right and that’s not ok. I know to be careful about who I’m taking with me to a movie theatre. I know who not to trust. I know I’m not ready to get married because I’m not ready to share my life. I’m not ready to make a plan and settle down. There’s so much of this world that I want to see, learn and understand. I am young and I need to make the best of it.

I also know, I’m glad I listened to my parents. I’m glad I waited till 21 !

Like the saying goes “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be..!” So don’t rush to grow up. It’ll always be there waiting for you..

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