19 Lessons and counting

Nineteen years ago, on this day, I started a journey. I said good bye to my family, our home, to old friends, tipped a toast to another who was no longer with me to cheer me on, and took a blind leap of faith. I was clueless about the ways of the world, and yet I came to the US, with the proverbial pocket full of dreams. And my life changed forever.

Over the next 3 weeks, I got a swift education in many things, but about relationships in particular. These 19 represent the 19 life lessons I learned - and they continue to stand true to the test of time.

  1. Nothing and no one can shelter me from ill will, insecurity or malice.

  2. Never let anyone have so much control, that I could be homeless. Literally.

  3. The life choices I make will stick with me forever.

  4. Protecting my honor, self worth and dignity is my job. No one is going to do it for me. It is not about being proud, it is about being confident and respecting myself.

  5. The phrase: ‘What is a better option?’ will help me decide if I need to change something, if I am looking for better coping mechanisms or just plain old sympathy.

  6. Trust, respect and forgiveness must be earned. Some situations do not deserve either. But once lost, none can be regained. Emotional deception is especially hurtful and dangerous.

  7. Trust my gut when it comes to friendships. Rely on my sixth sense when the rest are confused. Only a handful will stand by me for all sorts of things. And I knew that the first day I met them.

  8. Material comforts are fickle friends; nothing can replicate a heart-felt hug or a kind deed.

  9. Love, friendships and family must never come at a cost or be at a bargain. All in or all out.

  10. Being second best: professional or emotional – is not an option.

  11. I can change the course of my own future. It will take some patience and hard work but it will happen.

  12. What I build now is what will shelter me later. If I build a home that is filled with love and not things, it will stay a home.

  13. A career is only good on paper. A title or a number should not define or control my relationships with loved ones, and neither should theirs define ours.

  14. Time is short, good moments - few. Appreciate what I have NOW, for could be gone tomorrow.

  15. Don’t find excuses to hold back love and affection (see #14). There may be no tomorrow.

  16. Take time to be calm, to be quiet with myself and keep working on a strategy for who I want to become. Work sometimes needs to wait, but self improvement is never a finished task.

  17. Letting go and letting grow are two different things. Only one is a partnership.

  18. Never stop learning – focus on making positive contributions, stay creatively inspired and engaged. Share my fears, so I am reminded, often, that I am an imperfect, work-in progress human.

  19. Try to ‘Be here & be now’. When possible gaze into the ocean and its waves - it builds perspective.

Some people and situations change your lives for good; some just change how you see them and the world. Some lessons can never be un-learned, I am still learning that.


Nandita Godbole

Once a botanist & landscape architect.

Now a personal chef & author, an artist, graphic designer, blogger & poet. 


Loves freshly brewed chai, the crisp salty ocean breeze, watching monsoon rains & walking barefoot through cold mountain streams. 


Believes in the strength, positivity of the human spirit. Is spiritual but not a fanatic. 


Mom of one. Two, if she counts her husband.

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