…. I turned 35.
Yes, as the day changed from 15th to 16th a few days ago, I turned 35. As a child, I always thought that anyone who has spent over 30 years walking this planet must be old. I mean, the first time I had this thought, my parents were already in their 30s and they seemed old. What I didn’t realise then, but do now, is that they weren’t old – they were adults. They acted and lived like adults, more so because they had two children to look after. On the other hand, my husband and I don’t have any children and are parents to a very self-reliant dog. We live a harum-scarum life, even though we throw wonderful parties and pay all our bills on time. I won’t hold it against anyone who confused us for two children playing house. But I will graciously point out they couldn’t be more wrong. Nikhil and I are, live and behave like adults. In fact, my favourite word in the dictionary is “Adulting”, that’s how much of an adult I am. Agreed?
However, it would be a lie if I said my days of adulting started at 18 or 21 (the known ages of consent) – far from it. Scientists say that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain i.e. the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking does not develop till the age of 25. Rational thinking and decision-making being the largest component of adulting, 25 ought to be the age of consent. It is true in my case – my brain took 25 years (maybe even more!) to become the brain of an adult. The person I was at 25 and the one I am at 35 are two different people. In the last decade, there are some important lessons learnt, truths gained, and lots of “Adulting” done. Today’s post is in honour of the last decade. Allow me to share with you the truths that have transformed my life.
Your differences make you unique and memorable
This isn’t a new one – I’m sure you’ve read and heard this before. Let me drive home this truth with an example. A part of the last decade wasn’t easy for me. I lost someone very dear in a freak accident. As days, weeks and months passed, I went into deep mourning. Amidst all that, I often asked myself why couldn’t my life have been the same as other people; why did my life have to be different. There are no answers to these questions, and if there are, they are deeply philosophical ones. The only conclusion I reached was that because my life differed from others, I became a unique, memorable person. I have a core of steel, a deeper appreciation of life and a better understanding of human nature than most people. My differences make me the person I am and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. Rumi said it better than I ever could
All I can say is that I am lit up like a Christmas Tree!
There are moments in life which define you
This one flows from the first truth. Life is unpredictable, and you never know what will happen. Mostly your life proceeds at a steady pace, with occasional difficulties. However, once in a while, something comes along, a life-altering event which is so significant and unexpected that it leaves you reeling. An accident, death of a loved one, birth of a child with a disability, heartbreak, financial loss – all these events come out of the blue, and you are never prepared for them. I wasn’t prepared when such a thing happened to me years ago, and I know I wouldn’t be prepared if it happened again. But these are defining moments of life, and what you do or don’t do in these moments impacts the rest of your life. I believe your luck or kismat is based not on what happens to you, but on how you deal with what has happened and on what sort of person you become when it’s all over. In such moments, you can break down, and that would be unfortunate. Or you can become a person worthy of people’s respect – anyone who can do that is truly lucky in my eyes.
You have more than one soulmate
This is one truth which has given me both happiness and peace of mind. Movies, books, love songs all want to sell the idea of one true love, one best friend, one soul mate – one Juliet for one Romeo and vice versa – to the exclusion of the rest of the world. They ask you to believe that for true happiness, you have to find and be with that one person who will be your entire world. Such a belief is not only unhealthy, but also causes great heartache. As per a famous couples’ therapist, Dr Esther Perel (the bestselling author of the book Mating in Captivity), marriage was earlier an economic institution which gave its members, parenthood, social status, succession and companionship. She opines that till such time people wanted to marry for these things, marriages worked just fine. It’s only when people started wanting their spouses to also be their most trusted confidants, best friends and passionate lovers that marital problems began. She says what we earlier wanted from an entire village, we are now asking from just one individual. The disillusionment that comes, when the person you thought was your soulmate fails to satisfy all your needs, leads to infidelity.
I couldn’t agree with her more. It makes no sense to put all your eggs in one basket, to pin all your hopes and expectations on just one person. That is a recipe for disaster, which is why I have many soulmates. Instead of having just one best friend, I have several close friends. I derive emotional support from many people other than my partner – my friends, family, colleagues and a few therapists. I don’t rely only on my partner to have a good time – I go out, party, shop and travel with him and without him. He does the same, and we are both happier for it. You can and should have more than one soul mate, confidence keeper, and cheerleader in your life. Because it will always take a village to truly enrich your world.
Your job and your passion may not coincide
This is a controversial truth, and you may not hear this from many people. But learning this truth has led me here – to starting a knitting blog and writing the present post – so bear with me.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend called to check up on me; when I said I was busy with some legal work, he sounded surprised. He asked me – not even trying to hide his astonishment – if I still practised law. I can’t blame him – with all the knitting and writing, anyone can forget I’m a lawyer. The truth is, I still practise law and intend to do so for the foreseeable future. BUT – and this is a big but – I also knit, blog, read up on psychology, tinker with my website and dream of becoming a novelist and social media influencer one day. Phew!
You may ask – why can’t this girl choose just one thing and focus on it? Well, I had done exactly that. After Class XII, I chose Law as my profession and told myself that this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. My career seemed like a ladder, and I knew if I kept my focus and climbed one rung at a time, one day, I would reach the pot of gold, i.e. success. Most people think like that and work towards this end goal. I like the legal profession and enjoy my litigation practice. But if I say that practising law fills me with excitement, that would be stretching the truth. It doesn’t make me want to jump out of bed in the morning, ready to get to work. It does not make me want to learn new things, try out new ideas and take risks. No, law is just a way to pay the bills (although Nikhil does the heavy lifting there), but I can’t say I have any strong feelings towards it.
This is where I stood when COVID-19 hit us. Courts were shut, and I had loads of time on my hands. I was already knitting and on a whim; I started this blog. It lit a spark inside me, which has become a strong flame. I love to write, and I’m constantly brimming with ideas – in fact, sometimes the first thing I do when I wake up is to switch on my laptop to jot down a new idea before I forgot it. Knitting satisfies my creative urges and leaves me with a sense of purpose and achievement. I am happy that I have decided to pursue both of these things along with my law practice. And even though neither writing nor knitting makes me any money; I don’t mind. Between lawyering, knitting and writing, all my requirements get satisfied, be it monetary, creative, or intellectual. My job (work that makes me money) is not the same as my passion (work that makes me excited), but that’s alright. I don’t have to choose. Maybe expecting to feel passionate about the work which gives you your daily bread is akin to expecting sparks to fly with your best friend. It might happen, it might not. If it does, great; if it doesn’t, that’s alright too.
If there’s something you want to do, do it now
Often when something big happens in someone’s life, especially something tragic, their perspective towards life changes. Some people realise money is not everything or that family and health are more important than work or that they should quit their day jobs to follow their dreams. My realisation was that life’s short; best not to postpone things. All this means is that instead of waiting for the next office holiday or for retirement or for financial stability or for whatever other condition/time limit you have set for yourself, it is better to do whatever you want to do now, in the present. If there is something you want to say to someone, say it now. If there is an experience you want to have, have it today. The right moment is always the present moment. People like to make bucket lists or follow lists with a 100 things to do before you die. Often the items set out in these lists remain undone – time runs out. That’s a risk I’m unwilling to take. Right now is my time and I intend to make all my dreams and wishes come true – be it my desire of becoming a writer or of travelling the world or of sleeping for 24 hours straight or of reading 200 books a year.
I hope I have convinced you on this point. Now, I will leave the job of imparting wisdom to our favourite dancing star, Prabhu Deva. In his popular song (Urvashi Urvashi) he sagaciously states – “Bees ki umar ka jo hai khel, saatth pe khel ke hoga kya?”, i.e. if a game is meant to be played at 20, what is the point of waiting till 60 to play it?
Such wise words! I wholeheartedly agree with Prabhu sir, which is why I’m planning all my games for the ripe young age of 35. What about you?