The Year 1999 — My Life as a Thirteen-Year-Old

Inspired by my podcast episode with Aarushi Gupta — a 13-year-old podcaster and aspiring behavioral economist from Gurugam, North India

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Boarding House at FGGC Oyo. My bracelet says, “WWJD.”

The year is 1999; I am a 13-year-old JSS 3 student of Federal Government Girls’ College, Oyo. A year later, I will have my very first crush but wouldn’t have known this then. Sometime in May, my country will make a seismic shift from the autocratic, military regimen to a less covert kind that will be laden with corruption. The sky is large, and the grasses are always green, it is the year before Y2K, plantain is my favorite food, and my life is simple.

I am an avid lover of country music and R&B, listening to the greats such as Don Williams, Dolly Parton, Westlife, and Celine Dion. Children of the World and Tales by Moonlight by Aunty Nkem are my favorite TV shows, stories from books by Enid Blyton, Heartsongs, and James Hadley Chase are the subject of my thoughts and imaginations. I will get on buses to make my way to the public libraries and bookshops in Onipanu and Yaba to borrow books, study, and buy music tapes.

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My hostel room. See that Kirk Franklin poster on the wall? I paid real hard money for it. Also, wearing my favorite Rugrats t-shirt.

I also had a healthy collection of cassettes. I could sing every lyric to any of Kirk Franklin’s and Papa San’s songs. I have my most prized possession, a transistor radio with a cassette player, which like Humpty Dumpty, would later fall apart countless times, and I would develop skills necessary to put it back together again. My love for radio grew deeper, and I developed a one-sided relationship with a couple of my favorite OAPs. While home during the holiday, I will play games like “change your style,” “freeze,” “catcher,” “suwe,” with other kids in my neighborhood. My parents, especially Daddy Dearest, are strict disciplinarians, there is no such thing as negotiating with adults.

Twenty-one years later, the year is 2020; everything is different. I live in the US, I speak Korean, eat more than my body weight in Korean food, and some of my favorite TV shows are Korean. Technology has evolved beyond my transistor radio, and now, there is a thing called podcasting. Social media and the internet has linked the world into a global village, and the TV stations are live 24/7. My reflections leave me nostalgic about the memories of my teenage years, as the smell of petrichor (a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather) still takes me back to a time that now feels romantic, and Dan Foster ruled the airwaves.

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Source: NYTimes

Today, 13-year-olds are growing up in a world utterly different from mine. I recently came across one of such, a young lady who is now 14 called Aarushi Gupta. She is a 10th Grade student from Gurugram, near New Delhi, India. What’s unusual about her is that at such a tender age, she is already the host of a podcast show where she has interviewed guests from CEOs, podcasters, to entrepreneurs. Aarushi loves watching series and is a huge fan of FRIENDS. A TV series called Alex, Inc. got her curious about podcasting.

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Source: Google

She decided to start her podcast show at the end of 2018, called “When I Was 13.” On her podcast, Aarushi interviews various people, asking them about the world when they were 13 years old. In doing so, she gets to know about how people make life and career choices, the varied environments in which people grow up in, and the life lessons that they pick up along the way. Aarushi loves music, plays the keyboard and ukulele, and is even enrolled in a music class. As of now, she hopes to study behavioral economics when she goes to college, even though that may still change.

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Source: The More Sibyl Podcast

When I asked how she copes with her school work, she replies that she does most of her interview during her summer break and on weekends because excelling in school is not an option. I have been completely blown away by such an inspirational young lady who sees her podcast as a time machine and is eager to continue podcasting for as long as she can. I particularly love the perspective she is giving to young people like herself across the world.

Comparing the world I grew up in, and the one Aarushi and her contemporaries are growing up in, I realize that there’s always going to be disadvantages and advantages to growing up in whatever decade you were born in, it’s up to each individual to utilize the latter more than the former. Parents should do all they can to support their children’s dreams from a tender age, realizing that they are guardians. As the world continues to evolve, voices like Aarushi’s must be amplified and encouraged to keep speaking because, like Whitney Houston said, “the children are our future.”

There is so much more to know about Aarushi, so do well to download this week’s episode to find out more.

Learn more about Aarushi here

Show Notes

13 over 33,


Written by

I'm ME: replete with the mien of a bard, scholar, Argonaut, Jesus-lover, funfinder, bibliophile, Koreanophile, partner, and wanderer!

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