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Dear friends, A very happy New Year to you all! Last week, I was asked to judge the national level finals for a story-telling competition. Out of the three lakh children who had participated, only 24 had made it to the finals. It was both a moment of pride and pressure for the kids as they stepped on stage to perform. Every participant had worked hard on their piece—I could tell from the surety in their voice and the confidence in their poise. Some of them narrated folk and mythological tales that had meanings and morals. A few recounted incidents from history that were meant to inspire, while others shared vivid, imaginative stories that stood firmly in the realm of the bizarre. There were costumes on display and elaborate props at the ready. Truly, it was a dazzling show. And yet, the child who won the first place used neither costumes nor props. Her story gave us neither morals nor inspiration. It was simply her experience of how she spent an evening alone at home without her parents and got really spooked! The simplicity of the story and the ease with which it was told made it relatable to each and every one of us. More importantly, it rang true. The dreams we have for our future too are like these stories. With every passing year, our ideas about what we want to do in life change. Our parents say one thing, our teachers another and our friends still another! It becomes difficult to tell if our dreams are truly ours or if they belong to our friends, parents and teachers. But there is one way to find out if your dream rings true. Ask, are you being honest with yourself? Is this what you really want? Your gut will know. And if the answer is a resounding yes, then I guarantee that no matter what comes in your way, you will always emerge a winner. Dream big, dream small, dream either way!

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