I have wanted to turn 30 ever since I turned 20. I reached the milestone five days ago. Expectedly and to my unwarranted dismay, I feel just the same. It is not that I have not been paying attention. Quite the contrary. I have been watching every thought, every action, every moment with anticipation. So far, I do not have much to show for those hours of deep introspection or for the great 20s, spent waiting to turn 30.
Do not get me wrong. I have not been a loner, getting through my days just on pot or coffee, without love, friendship, or humor in life. I am not that person your mind conjured. I am just not the package that my 20-year old self set me to roll into – successful, charitable, ethical, and an upstanding citizen with a straight back, a slim waist, and a fat paycheck. I lie, I bribe, I take unnecessary days off from work and spend my money almost as fast as I make it.
I am not unaware that it is stupid to measure a decade well-lived or not by a 20-year old girl’s yardstick. What did she know of the ever-narrow space at the top, of the constantly and unprecedently shifting world, of real responsibilities, of imperfections, of anxiety, or of just the life getting in the way? She did not know, but I do. So, imagine my surprise when the 30-year old me chalked out just the same set of goals for me to achieve by 40. If the 20-year-old me could not get to all those goals because life got in the way, it is almost a certainty that the 40-year old me would be dealt a similar hand. It is a trap. The only option left is to stop playing by the rulebook. It is going to be hard but sensible to document and refer to real successes that really lit a corner in my heart, losses that wounded and regrets that unfailingly kept me awake at night.
The past decade I learned to nourish love -with sappiness and understanding, with feedback and love poems. The past decade I found a friendship – humbling, comforting, and unconditional. The past decade I identified my true religion – happiness, humanity, and honesty. The past decade I felt brave enough – to let go of limiting people, situations, beliefs, and expectations. The past decade I understood grief -the bottomless pit with unending regrets, tainted memories, and unfulfilled wishes. The past decade I saw more of the world – in Switzerland, Paris, Darjeeling, Kolkata, and Haldwani. The past decade I figured out my favorite dresses – comfortable, cozy, and preferably lent to me. The past decade I confronted my feelings – about school bullies, molesters masked as well-wishers and strangers on the bus rides rubbing against my skin. In the past decade, I learned to drive, cook, and live independently. The past decade, I understood the importance of – family, saying no, and articulation. The past decade, I realized – carbs are not bad, Real juice is not healthy and body positivity is a thing. The past decade, I figured out my superpowers – empathy and finding people’s look-alikes. In the past decade, I read – Chetan Bhagat, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Shakespeare, and Tagore. The past decade, I learned to love a child – at ten minutes old, 6 months old, and 1.9 years old.