My 26-Year-Old Life in a Blog

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I don’t think this is the life I imagined for myself as a girl heading towards 30. I did say, girl. I don’t feel quite like a woman yet. I often compared my life to the overly successful 26-something ladies and wondered if I’d get there. I often compared my life to the horrible 26-something ladies and wondered if I’d wind up there. But somehow, I’ve gotten to neither.

I set an alarm for 6 every morning. I wake up at 8:10 when I’m supposed to be at work before 9. Did I mention work is 30 minutes away? Yep. I get through my day with 80% work and 20% chit-chat. I enjoy it. That’s something I was afraid I wouldn’t. I never wanted to be in my “prime” years, hating what I was doing. So I’m glad.

I want to wrap up at 5:30 every day. I end up staying there past 6 EVERY DAY. I make plans for coffee. For a quick dinner. For a drink, maybe. That sounds ridiculously old. “I catch up with friends for a drink after work.” That’s the new normal now.

I make plans and I always show up late. I was never late. I’m now always late. I smile, I laugh and I make eye contact as I say, “Cheers,” while I text fight with the one constant in my life not tied to me by blood.

I sigh through Thursday nights wishing it was Friday. I get so much done on Friday because I wish I could get to bed fast. I’m still out at 1am on Saturday morning wishing I’d worked on that ONE LAST THING so I didn’t have to work the weekend. I wake up past noon wishing I’d woken up sooner. I Netflix all day wishing I could turn it off and get some chores done. I start doing chores wishing I was Netflixing instead.

I skype. I text. I watch as my calendar fills up and my bank account empties. It’s the last four days of the month and I’m counting pennies until the salary kicks in. But payday isn’t what I imagined it to be.

Because now, you’re right. I do get a lot more money than my parents gave me for pocket money. But my expenses are sky high, too. Did they tell you about this magically horrible thing called BILLS? No, they didn’t. Because learning about subatomic particles was more important than bills. I don’t even know what subatomic particles are anymore. But here’s what I do know. I pay bills. Every first day of the month. And then my bank account reduces by half. And then I pay this incredibly crazy thing they call, “Taxes and Pension Fund.” I know taxes help keep my city safe and working. I know it. I wish they’d all had other ways of income so I can afford to do some retail therapy after that texting fight I mentioned before. But no. I pay it. I mean, I also need to have money when I’m 60, right? RIGHT? No, I’m not right. I don’t want a pension fund. I want money. To eat out. To have one extra drink. Why is there no rule that you don’t pay pension fund in your 20’s so you can have a life and then you start saving at 30 for your 60’s? There should be, right?

But there isn’t. So I live on 1/4 of the money I make after one month of waking up at 8:10 and staying at work till 6:30. And I repeat this every day, every month, all year long.

And I spend my Saturdays feeling like I have all the time in the world to do chores and Sundays wondering why I slept through Saturday. I get to work on Monday wishing my boss hasn’t reached yet and smiling while scared when I realize she is. CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW BOSSES HAVE THE ABILITY TO WAKE UP AND GET TO WORK ON TIME? LIKE HOW? I MEAN THEY HAVE FAMILIES. THEY WAKE UP, THEY DEAL WITH FAMILY AND STILL GET TO WORK ON TIME! I only have to deal with me. I don’t even eat breakfast. I wake up, shower and show up. But I’m still late.

And this repeats. Over and over and over again. I meet with friends from college. We can now stay out past 10pm! WHAT A REVELATION! My boyfriend and I can travel! – That’s not really approved though. I’m just pissing some people off in the process. Do I also have to mention the many people I piss off by not texting back because I was in a meeting, then I was working, then I had plans and I totally thought I did!!?

I deal with, “You’re old enough to be married,” and “Are you dating someone? We can get you married to him.” I find myself repeating, “Yes, I am. I’m not into the idea of marriage.” Then the elderly continue to tell me why it is important to secure a relationship with marriage. I dream of a weekend in Bali with him and tune the other voices out. Sometimes, I also dream of pizza. I mean, come on. It’s PIZZA! It’s the poor man’s Michelin food.

I fight with my boyfriend. I show up at work sulking. We fix our fight. I work late trying to make up the time that I spent texting him during the day fixing our fight. I go out  saying, “I’m not drinking.” I come back stumbling. “Which way does this key go in again?” I hate myself the next morning as I get through four cups of coffee. I tell myself, “I’m never going out again,” as my phone rings and my next plan is made. If you’re wondering, no. I can’t afford this. But we do it. Because if I wasn’t drowning in credit card debt in my 20’s, am I really alive?

And so this continues. I pay the bills. I spend the money again. I pay it again. I spend it again. I love him. I don’t love him. I love him like crazy. “He’s totally crazy!” I drink. I swear to never drink. I drink again. I set alarms I sleep through. I buy shoes I’ll never walk in. I buy clothes I don’t have time for. Don’t even get me started on make-up and self-care products. I’m not awake long enough to be self-caring. BUT OMG! Did you see the new face serum?

And then, as the month draws to an end, and I sit at home broke on a Saturday evening that feels like morning because I just woke up, I write a post after quite a few months to tell you all, “Here’s my 26-year-old life in a blog!”

Is yours the same?

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To The Girl In Her Mid-20’s

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Photography – Ravi Roshan

 

You’ve spent so many years looking forward to this phase of your life. And it always looked so cool. So glamorous. So filled with love and laughter.

Yet here you are. With knowledge that it’s anything but.

It’s messy buns and messier lives. It’s baggy shirts and overflowing laundry bags. It’s a lot of work and never enough money. It’s freedom with responsibilities. And life is no longer what it seemed.

Different people are doing different things.

Your best friend’s getting married. Your old classmate is killing it with success. Your ex is happy in love. Your old mate is drowning in drugs. Different people are doing different things. But not you. You’re just existing. You’re getting through everyday a little better than the last. But then you have days where you can’t get up at all.

You spend your Friday evenings holed up in a corner because you’re too responsible to drink your night away. Too control freakish to lose yourself to someone else’s tunes. But somehow, this isn’t enough. This life you’re living doesn’t feel complete. Loneliness wraps around you like a blanket you love and you wonder where you went wrong. Why you became different to everyone else.

“Did I do too much too soon? Did I not do enough? Was there a reason why it was never me? Is this going to be the rest of my life? Alone? Unsuccessful? Filled with dreams that never come true?”

And your hands reach out to your phone. One text. One call. To that someone who might make you feel pretty. Who might make you feel important. And your need takes over.

The need to feel accepted. To feel appreciated. To feel adored. To feel loved.

And it is so strong, you forget your sanity for a few minutes of flattery. You lessen your worth for dishonest words. The hurt in your heart, camouflaged. If only for a few seconds.

But it’s never enough. And when you wake up, it’s worse. The hammering of your heart so loud in your ears. A memory of last night frustratingly haunting. Yet another mistake. Yet again.

You scream hateful words to yourself. When will I ever learn? You go over those messages. Those conversations. How you fell right back into a ditch when you knew better. Just for a moment, you wish you weren’t yourself.

And in that moment, read these words:

Breathe. It’s not so bad. You think I don’t understand. But I do. Because I’m there, too. I’ve made that call. I’ve texted that wrong person. I’ve woken up with regrets. I still do. I’ve felt the need to be held. I’ve felt that silent green monster towards a friend in love.
Yes, we all make those mistakes. And we all think nobody else does. But they do.

So please, don’t hate yourself. And don’t stop. Don’t stop loving with all you have. Don’t stop wishing on every shooting star. Don’t stop dreaming of fairytales and being as amazing as Malala Yousafzai. You might not always get there, but don’t stop.

You have so much left to do. You have a world filled with life waiting to happen. You have books to be read. Steps to be taken. Places to see. People to meet. You haven’t lived half your life yet. There’s so much ahead. And in ten years, when you look back, you’ll wish you were here again.

So don’t waste it wallowing in your own sadness. Don’t lose yourself to your self-pity and non-existent boundaries. Use everyday. And I don’t mean spend thousands of dollars and visit the North Pole. I know how you’re struggling to make ends meet.

Do the simple things. Stop procrastinating. Take a walk with nature. Go to the gym. Read your favorite book for the millionth time. Watch a movie. Write your novel. Sketch until you’re better than the best. Eat like you’re dying tomorrow. And most importantly, make mistakes. Your heart will heal. But today will never be back again. Don’t live with “Could-have-been’s.” Take chances.

And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember – It’s okay to be alone.

There is time to let your life revolve around someone else. But today, let it revolve around you.

Not because you can’t find someone. Not because you can’t be loved.

But because you deserve to wake up with a smile. You deserve to live life. To make memories so wild, you’ll be the coolest grandparent they’ve ever known.

Breathe. It’s only your mid-20’s.

You’re going to be alright.

 

 

 

“I’m Not A Girl Anymore..”

Slowly, with life experiences and baby steps, from high school to university to a working environment and the real world, watching our friends grow into adults, observing our changing needs and desires, understanding our lives changing and learning the ability to accept it – this is how a girl, any girl, must realize that she is no longer a girl. That she is indeed a woman.

But this world doesn’t work like that anymore. In this world, women walk around scared and insecure because they have been pushed to grow up. Because our societies have started perceiving us as women before we could even understand the complex simplicity of that word.

The 23-year-old intern in Delhi, gang raped by a boy who shouldn’t have known that much and men who should have known better.  The number of people who pointed their fingers at her for getting in that bus in the first place. Here’s an idea. Maybe, she didn’t know that much yet. Maybe she was still that little girl who believed that the world was filled with superheroes. That every man was a brother, a father, a best friend. That when they look at her, they would see the child that they can befriend, not the body that they can use.

The 24-year-old techie in Chennai, gang raped. People came up with a million reasons. She should’ve known better than to walk alone in the middle of the night. “She should’ve known better.” Ever think that maybe she needed more time to know better? That maybe, just maybe, she didn’t see what the society saw? But we don’t care. She’s 24 ! She’s a woman who should’ve known better !

That’s the thing. Being a certain age isn’t what makes us women. We don’t turn 21 and suddenly say “OHMYGOD ! I’M A WOMAN !” No. We need time, patience, life lessons and lots of experience before we become women.

And no matter what, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING EVER JUSTIFIES A MAN TOUCHING A GIRL / WOMAN WITHOUT HER PERMISSION.

I’m still a girl. I’m insecure. I walk in fear of who to trust and who to take three steps away from. I accuse every man who looks my way of wrong thoughts. Just because..

I had to endure a doctor move his hand that inch too close, the man on the street wink and make kissing faces, the guy I’ve known since I was two-years-old ask me if I wanted to “go grab a drink after hours” and the society that tells me that all of the above is my fault. Don’t look. Don’t smile. Don’t wear what you want. Don’t do what you feel like doing. And never ever let a man too close, doesn’t matter who he is.

I honestly don’t know if it’s the society’s fault or the men’s. But I do know that something has to change. Drill it into everyone’s brains if we have to but we need to make them understand that while you’re looking at someone you’d like to use, she’s looking at someone she believes will protect her from someone like you..

Clubbing – A sober choice? Or a social need?

I went clubbing last night. I’ve never been before and I wouldn’t dare say it was a bad experience but for someone like me, it was just a weird one. I don’t know if weird is quite the fitting. Maybe different would be the right word. A couple of my friends and a couple of their friends were out for a fun night out before one of them had to go back to her city. It was all well-planned. I’d perfectly mapped out the lies to my parents and it was all good. We went to a rooftop club with a dashing view of my beautiful city.

Maybe I should’ve mentioned this before. Clubs, parties and me – not a good mix. It’s out of my comfort zone. I’m too uncomfortable. Some would say I lack self-esteem and that’s what’s making me stay away from “shaking my booty” on the dance floor. I think there are just times, places and people with whom I’d let go and the middle of the night in a rooftop club with my friends and their friends isn’t it. Sounds stupid, but yeah. I’d stayed sober all night long. My friends tried and dragged me a few times to the dance floor but I just walked back, sat alone and stared. At all the people. And I realized, I’m afraid.

I’m afraid for the future generation. I’m afraid to bring a child into this world. I saw three men who should know better get a young girl completely drunk. I saw her throw herself at each one of them and dirty dance the night away. I watched an old man try to dance around my best friend. I saw a girl make out with two boys. I saw a couple dancing and kissing all night long. I’d be the first to say none of these girls and guys (except the first three men and the old man) would be over 21 years old. As a girl from a conservative Indian family, I was raised to not turn into one of those girls. I was raised to be the exact opposite – thou shall not chill with a man who is not your father, brother or betrothed. I think I’m now stuck somewhere in-between the two extremes and I’m happy.

But as I watched those girls I realized, is this what the world calls westernized culture? Or is this simply just our teenagers and young adults gone wrong? The need to let go and let your hair down, I can understand. I love having a night out once in a while myself. But the need to throw yourself at any man, I don’t understand. I would love to blame the guys but I guess I believe in the saying “boys will be boys.” No girl should have to cover herself up and live in a closed room. But the fun doesn’t have to involve so much sexual activity in such an unconscious state. My friends were able to dance and have fun without having to throw themselves at each other or anyone else around them.

As I sat there and I watched my parents’ biggest fear of what their daughter would turn into, I wondered. If this is the western culture, then why do our parents so encouragingly send us off there and tell us that it’s for us to make a better life for ourselves? I don’t think throwing myself at three men who are probably twice my age, flashing another girl and trying to create attention towards myself by falling on the floor while completely wasted is really a better life.

Or maybe instead of a western culture, has partying become a part of our lives out of peer pressure? The ultimate need to fit in?

I went through a very bad state of mind recently and everywhere I turned, people advised me to start smoking up. Said it helps. Why? Remember when what helped free your mind was a long walk along the beach? With Mother Nature? Reading your favorite books and losing yourself in them? Alcohol and drugs used to be the answers everyone told you NOT to turn to at any point of time in your life.

Reality sucks. I agree. Dysfunctional families. Overly busy parents. Uncaring siblings. My generation has probably seen more of these families than any other. My own family is one of these. Is that what pushes us towards all of this? Are our minds craving the attention we want from that family so much that we’ll take it from anyone who’s willing to give it to us? At any cost?

I’ve lied. I’ve snuck out. With my age and technology, if I can get away with so much with such strict parents, what will my child be able to get away with? If I can get drugs within the snap of my fingers if I choose to, what will it be like in another 20 years? What do you do to keep a child safe? How do you teach them the difference between getting drunk and having fun and getting drunk and making decisions you’ll regret? I’m sure a situation like that looks good in a movie like The Hangover, but in reality is that ok? Is it ok to make decisions that you can never undo in such an unsure state of mind? Is it ok to not know the difference between fun and fucked up? Is it ok to not care about it?