I turned 30 yesterday. Cannot deny that there is some subtle nameless feeling about not being able to say I am 20-something. Not necessarily a bad feeling OK. As they say – once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.
Why I decided to scribble these lines is primarily with the intention that I will someday feel like coming back to these. Just a reminder of where I was at this very moment – thoughtfully and emotionally. And then have some sort of a self amusement review! I haven’t for once thought of these as ‘lessons in life’ but I wouldn’t mind if they are treated that way! This is what has worked for me so far. Something to mark the 30 milestone, in no particular order….
- Restlessness is good. Reacting impatiently to that restlessness is not. I have always been a restless soul. But what I am still learning is that patience is not about waiting while nothing is happening. Patience is about our behavior when nothing seems to happen. We think things are not moving but actually they very well might be.
- Know thy name J Understand the origin and meaning of your name. It is always a good conversation starter across cultural boundaries. But remember that the World speaks different languages – Have fun with people as they annihilate the pronunciation of your name. It can be funny and it can be ironic. My name? Well, all I can say is that my parents had high hopes
- Read more. I wish I would read more. And more. In the last one year I have invested more time and money in books than any previous year(s). And I can feel my brain appreciating that J Just finished my 10th book of 2014 in the first quarter. Well on track for this year.
- Deal with difficult conversations when confronted. Be honest. Don’t run away.
- Do your own research when working with consultants. Question a lot.
- It is regret only if you decide not to learn anything from it. Your decisions make you. Take ownership for where you are, how you are and whom you are with. Taking risks is a decision. And I am not talking about jumping out of a plane in the Alps with a parachute. Well that too, but risks about living. About career. About life. About love. And about letting go. Bad decisions make interesting stories. But there is a moral in every story.
- Drink more water. You can drink more water than you can ever imagine.
- Have some values. Simple values to live by. These help in decision making at cross roads if you are strong enough to use them as deal breakers. It could be a heavy weight value such as integrity or a simple to sound (but tough to execute) trait such as happiness. Because if you don’t stand for much, you’ll fall for anything.
- Being lonely is not the same as being alone is not the same as being single.
- Relationships matter. Find ‘your’ people. Those who help you grow, those who grow because of you. With whom conversations are a flow and being yourself around them is a default state of being. With whom even the arguments are worthy enough to be priority. Those people whom you can call up without calculating time zones. The people who really care will still care whether they agree with you or not.
- Money is important. It does, to a level, free you of the thoughts of uncertainty. It also plays an important role if you want to experience different things in life – be it travel or food or new technology. But as Maslow would have put it, only till the point of having a safe buffer. It won’t even get you close to the level of respect and esteem. I am thankful for being at a comfortable space. But it is not a panacea to my restlessness. I don’t think the love for money is wrong. I think love for ONLY money is extremely wrong. Save money. At least enough to take risks in life if you’d like to.
- Listening to your heart is SO underrated. Even if it brings a chaos in your life. The chaos is always temporary. Find that voice in the noise. For what its worth, no one knows you better than your inner voice. We think we know this but we always seem to look for external consolations and support.
- There will always be that white whale in everyone’s life. Deal with yours.
- The definition of success keeps changing as we keep achieving our goals. This brings me to the realization that being successful is different from winning. Its like completing an ultramarathon vs. running a sprint, respectively. When I started working 9 years back I had what I thought was a ‘plan’. Didn’t quite stick to it. This phenomenon, in hindsight, is what we call life.
- Being spiritual has helped me more than being religious. For one, I have started identifying the stark similarities in all religions.
- Pay for your parents’ vacations if you can – end to end. As many times as you can afford to. I swear it won’t even get you close to what they have invested in you.
- Smile at strangers.
- Live outside your home town for a long duration. If possible, your home country. Cook your own food. Howsoever many times you have heard this, this is one of my best learnings in the last 30 years, starting from the moment I completed XII. Push yourself out in a way you feel encouraged and confident. It won’t always be fun. But the growth curve is so steep, no other experience comes close. Grateful.
- It is possible to make real friends for life at your workplace.
- Parking tickets hurt more than speeding tickets. In fact there have been ridiculously ‘expensive’ speeding tickets that have actually made me smile. I guess its because parking tickets was your fault for your stupidity. Speeding tickets was you having fun. Maybe stupid fun. Maybe its just me. Maybe I should delete this point.
- Acceptance is more than just tolerance. And respect is much much more than just acceptance. Respect other people’s beliefs. Understanding WHY they believe what they believe is more important than the notion itself. Just keep reminding yourself that the sheer geographical point of reference of our birth has defined most of who we are. But it is only upto us how we live the rest of it.
- Travel. Sometimes for an escape, but mostly for deliberate curiosity. Also, it is never too late to start. No matter how frequently we travel, we must realize there will always be some places left out. And that’s kind-of ok. But remember, wherever you go, there you are! And yes, when you are sleeping overnight at an airport, put a wake up note. People are generally kind to not let you miss your early morning flight. Ummm, why sleep at an airport in the first place, you ask? Just do it!
- Take time to enjoy your food.
- Play. I mean a sport. I learnt this a bit late in life, but hell yeah now I am writing about it. Pick a sport and go crazy over it. Get around people who push you to do better at that sport. Invest in training. It will influence all other aspects of your life. Anything will work – Team sport will make you better at your external relationships, Solo sports will define your relationship with yourself. There is no better way to handle your weaknesses. In the end, it is all a mind’s play. Dopamine rocks.
- Good music is good music. I wouldn’t care less for what genre it is stereotyped in. Good music becomes better music with awesome speakers. While driving.
- Trust people by default. Usually everybody is not out there to destroy you. Unless you have pissed them off big time of course, even then, at most they will just ignore you. We are anything but the center of the universe. A mere speck. This is a pretty deep realization.
- Watch ted talks. Starting from the one on the Golden circle.
- Do crazy stuff. But without hurting anyone. If you are not young and wild, you wont be old and wise – my favorite birthday greeting. Who knows, you might just remain wild as you grow old. Good for you! Some of the best moments in life will be the ones you can’t rave about.
- Depression makes the heart go stronger.
- I watch less TV than ever before and I feel I have more than 24 hours a day for myself. You don’t realize that you really don’t like watching TV unless you stop doing that. Internet explosion comes with a right of choice. Read and watch at your own convenience.
Summing it all up is the most basic of the realization is that “I think…..” is not the same as “I feel……”. It is always calming to stay conscious about this difference. I am not trying hard to figure it all out anymore, but someday I might.
Because the journey of ‘Being YOU’ always kicks the whim of ‘being perfect’s ass.