Keertana Ganesan, Magdalen College, Oxford, Experimental Psychology (2014-2017)
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’m Keertana and I have just graduated from Oxford with a BA in Experimental Psychology. Before starting my degree, I was timid, anxious and extremely self-deprecating. I downplayed my achievements and constantly criticised the way I looked.
Now, I’m starting to achieve peace with myself. I’m starting to appreciate my quirks and what makes me unique. I am starting to celebrate myself. Getting to this point has been difficult, but it has been possible because of the strong, female friends and role models I have in my life, who are unapologetically themselves.
I still have such a long way to go but I am excited for the road ahead. If I could write a letter to my teenage self, this is what I would say:
You’re probably in some corner anxiously completing your assignments while fulfilling your social commitments. Please just take a minute to listen to me! You’re so hard on yourself sometimes – just breathe.
You’re quick to fault yourself and pick on your flaws (and perhaps you still are). The notepad you have with all those ugly words you call yourself? Throw that away and write beautiful things about yourself instead. You’re only 16.
You are going to make mistakes and that’s part of the process. There is no use thinking of how things could have gone better. Maybe have a little fun instead of trying to rehearse every single conversation in your head.
Also – yes you are different! But that’s what is great about you. Stop trying so hard to mask your differences to try to appear ‘normal’. It’s really exhausting and living in your true self can be somewhat liberating. It may not seem like it now – but one day someone will appreciate your unique abilities.
You’re beautiful too. The pale, thin models you look up to are beautiful but that doesn’t mean you aren’t. One day, you will find a way to see yourself in a different light. It takes time and lots of self-love. It’s a journey to get to that point but I promise you it will make you a whole different woman; a woman, who is confident with big dreams and goals.
It doesn’t matter if everyone or no one believes in you: I want you to try and start with yourself.