On Sunday, with much pomp and fanfare, we celebrated 63 years of freedom from the British rule. 'Independence Day' was brought in with the hoisting of flags and singing of patriotic songs, not unlike every year since 1947. Safely ensconced in the beautiful cityscape of Hyderabad, I wondered what this humongous word — 'Independence' — actually means. From the impressionable age of 15, all we can dream about is being independent. At that age, being independent translates into making your own decisions as well as your own identity. But, somewhere down the line, some of us lose our way.
Independence has the knack of developing an unfavourable connotation for itself. Instead of standing up for your beliefs, you succumb to others' interpretations of 'being free'. Simply put:
Puffing away on a cigarette just because your friend says its cool or...
Gulping down a mug of beer because you feel you are old enough and cool enough when you do it.
These things do not signify independence. Independence is about taking responsibility for your actions and mood-enhancing products don't necessarily allow that, do they? Being independent can never be a synonym for 'being legal'. Maturity and the ability to adopt responsibility is not indicative of either age or numbers. It's all in the mind.
At the risk of sounding 'holier-than-thou':
Understand and cultivate the habit of saying 'NO' simply to nurture your sense of independence.
Grow a backbone, guys.
Learn to say NO — to recreational drugs, to drink driving, to smoking and the other warped ideas of 'cool'.
A lot of people will try and talk you into doing a lot of things that might seem cooler, better and trap you into feeling like an adult. Wisen up. The 'freedom of misuse' has been on the upswing for a long time now and only we can help ourselves. It's beautiful to be free and to be able to make our own choices.
It's a high to be independent and function as an adult. But independence is a double-edged sword, an unstoppable flood if you allow it to surge forward directionless.
Be rightfully independent. Be strong. Make YOUR choice and don't follow someone else's weakness. Take charge of your actions. Be proud to be young and wear your independence like a medal, and LET IT SHINE.
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