Friday, April 14, 2017

Life on the other side of 25

They rightly say that the mind goes through puberty in the twenties. Life is the most stressful I believe once you cross the age of 25. I have been struggling since then, trying to fit into old structures that worked for me (which obviously won't work now, but I am often unable to see that things are changing, and I don't know how to deal with the changes, so I keep going back to old methods).

 For instance, I love staying in Mumbai, in my home. It is the place where I can be most comfortable and relaxed but as I grow up, I realise that sometimes this routine just does not work for me. I can't drop everything at my convenience and go like, "The shower can wait. I need to write this down and get this out of my system." (Going through this at this very instant). Even if I do that, I can't shake myself off the guilt of not having showered before a certain time, not having woken up at so-and-so time, it just piles on and on. I like having a routine but often, I realise that my body demands that I go to bed early, it demands more sleep, it demands not eating a heavy meal at night. It can sometimes get difficult to meet these demands and form your own routine within a structure of a family. You may have to make certain compromises such as not sitting down for a meal together, and that just feels odd to me. And this is just one of the many compromises.

Society does not make living easy for you either. There are constant questions and advices, pointed at you or your parents, of the manner- "When are you getting married?", "Why isn't she getting married or even asking to meet guys?", "Take her to a psychiatrist.", "Why don't you just take up a fulltime job? It is more stable."

Sometimes I feel like it should be possible to get into the body of someone for a day and just live that person's life. We all wouldn't be so 'judgy' then. I do get the concerns of the generation before us. They come from a different time, have lived different lives, maybe they are even wise and are advising what may be right for us. But sometimes, I really wish they were better empathisers or listeners than just dropping advice or pointing at solutions. Not generalising or blaming, sometimes they too have their own insecurities but even so, take it from any 25+ year old, all we want is for someone to understand how we feel and try to feel the same things as we do, and then just point us to where we should look to live life better just for the next moment, not what we should see. We don't  need to know more than the next moment, and slowly we'll get there. We'll find our paths that way, they may or may not be different than yours. Now, I feel like the Guru-Shishya parampara in India back then was so valuable. Too bad we lost it, we're left now to find our paths by ourselves. And the worst part is that, more often than not, we don't even let ourselves do it. There is societal and peer pressure alright, but there is also some self inflicted pressure. Maybe we have picked that up in modern schooling and competitive environments, but it's something we really should unlearn for our own mental peace.

Work is also something I struggle with a lot. I don't struggle as much with doing the work than I do with exploring opportunities that are presented in front of me. I have realised that I can't always communicate freely with people that offer opportunities because of a certain corporate language or a formal manner of speaking which creates a wall between them and me. I never know how to communicate in such cases. I wish it weren't so difficult because I like working otherwise. I wish we didn't feel the need to put up a different personality / pretend when dealing with professional matters. It can be done with ease and naturalness, or as we say in Yoga, "sahajta".

These days I spend most of my time just managing my anxiety, trying to "be". The world around is constantly moving, demanding my attention 24/7. I juggle between meeting the demands of the society (which are also important for me in some sense i.e. earning money, attending certain events etc.), managing my emotions by way of Yoga / meditation, spending time with friends etc. Most of my energy is spent just in managing emotions, anxiety and fears. And then I spend more time ruminating over not being able to do things for my friends or people I care about, because of this anxiety and general feeling of being unwell. I also wish I had "free" time to explore my hobbies or other activities that I can put my heart into. By free time, I mean energy and mental space.

I think I am finally at least slowly letting go of holding on to old structures, trying to make way for new things and new methods, being okay with doing things differently. Yes I do, from time to time, get reminded that my life is not perfect, especially when I cannot answer questions put to me by my parents or society. On marriage, on stability. It reminds me of how screwed up my life is, but I also know that putting energy there won't help solve the problems. I need to be accepting of all that it is, in the way it is. I also need to stop "moving away" and start "moving towards". Though I know all this in theory now, putting it into practice is a matter of huge habit change. Sigh, one step at a time.

So that's how it's like being on the other side of 25 for me. That, and the fact that I am not so comfortable revealing my age here anymore.. afraid of being judged, afraid that I haven't accomplished as much as I should have. I don't know who decides these "shoulds" but until I unlearn everything, I don't think I will be fully comfortable with who I am.

I'm still on my way ( I hope!)