I am turning thirty. In the age of millenials and what not, this number becomes a fatalistic reminder that we are no longer the prime target audience for condom and cola ads, but for medical insurance and backache commercials.
30 a strange and dangerous number. The number appears so final. You have finished a decade. You need to take a deep look at yourself and contemplate whether the superhero tee shirts need to relinquished henceforth and the tight fit jeans sacrificed for comfortable trousers.
Instead of sulking about the fact that i am out of my twenties, i decided to write. A list for the folks out there who have , shall soon and are dreading turning 30. So i sat down in the sultry Mumbai summer and compiled a list of things we should keep in mind when we touch the magic figure.
13 things to keep in mind when turning 30!
- Settling Down is a state of mind.
Some of us are meant to be happily married. Some of us are meant to be married early. Some of us are meant to be both. I have several juniors tying the knot much before me. I hold no grudges or against these overenthusiastic neophytes ( except that they flood my Facebook with pictures where they look at each other like two competing hypnotists). Never let a number decide when you should “settle down” i.e. tying the knot. Dont force love. And certainly don’t force matrimony. Or anything for that matter.
- Dont judge your situation with material belongings.
I don’t have a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t even have a microwave ( ofcourse Telugu cooking doesn’t warrant one). I drive a ten year old Silver Honda Unicorn which continues to be my longest relationship. I prefer the local trains to cabs. I survive on my salary. I have realised that in the long run, material attachments are ephemeral and the simplicity of life is its true flavour. Keep yourself grounded. Walk around barefoot. Settle for the simpler phone or the smaller television. Stop comparing yourself with your neighbour or colleague. Its you who matters and not what you possess. Its important you realise this sooner than later. It will save you a lot of heartburn.
My 29th year was a travellers dream. I soaked in Argentina’s Iguasu Falls, i wandered aimlessly in the Pamirs of Tajikistan, got lost in the Big Bazaar of Istanbul, saw sunrise over the Adriatic in Dubrovnik and saw it set over the Blue Danube in Budapest. I had decided that my heart was meant to wander. And boy did i! Everyone among us suffers from the restless feet syndrome. Some of us are just yet to realise it. Dont waste your weekends and holidays sleeping at home or hanging about in the closest mall. Wake up. Make up plans. See the world. See India. Explore. Dont find friends. Dont find excuses. You can travel alone. And the world is a safe place for those who venture out in peace.
- Find equilibrium between office and home.
By the time you have touched the magic number, a great majority of us would have comfortably settled into our jobs and workplaces. And very few would realistically venture forth abandoning everything and launching into a new career. So now is the time to find the golden mean. That little point of balance between your workplace and your home. Stop bringing work home and stop taking personal issues to work. You are now mature enough to differentiate when one of them is encroaching upon the other. And remedial steps are necessary to ensure that these messy spheres of influence don’t overlap.
- Keep going back to your roots.
Go back home often. Go stand outside your school occasionally. Remember that first crush and stalk her/him occasionally online. Look up your college website. Catch up with old friends. Call them up. Meet them once in a while. Play with their kids. Remember birthdays of cousins and uncles. Visit your grandfolks graves. Grieve them on their anniversaries. Walk all old lanes occasionally. Go visit that temple where the priest recognises you. Subscribe to a vernacular newspaper. Keep in touch with yourself from the past. Memories are often all we have. Keep rekindling them.
Keep saving for the rainy day. I am a bad saver. Im relying on the “millions” my folks are going to leave me, the big IF being if they don’t disinherit me first. But nonetheless, i advise you not to be like me and be prudent. Consult a buddy and find a long term investment plan. Afterall , the ocean is made up of single drops of water. Spend well on things that matter. I had a pact with my best friend in college. We would call each other up whenever we bought something that cost over Rs 2000 and discuss it. You cannot imagine the amount of money i have saved with those conversations.
- Stay Healthy.
Your reflexes aren’t as strong as when you were 25 nor is your stamina. You need to keep the old machine running as it starts heading towards a plateau. Youll need to cut down on your drinking (including sodas) and your smoking ( if you do). Stop bluffing yourself that you are still capable of pulling an all nighter and showing up at work the next day in one piece. Your love handles and your beer belly might be coming out. So this is the time to start and to continue pushing them back. Download the pic of a shirtless Aiden Turner or Henry Cavill and make him your role model. Try.
- Stop Hoarding
Humans tend to accumulate baggage over time. Emotional and actual. Turning 30 is the perfect time to get rid of both.We all have lovers who have jilted us, friends who have betrayed us and relatives who have swindled us. I think this is the time to make peace on them and withdraw the multitude of curses we have cast their way. Have one sincere look at all of them and decide upon a course of action. You can either erase them from your life (delete contact, block on whatsapp and facebook/twitter) or decide to forgive them and move on with your life. Life is too short to be wasted on burnt bridges.
Do the same with your possessions especially clothes. Just sit for half an hour in front of your almirah with a goal to identify atleast 20% clothes you haven’t worn in the last 6 months. And summarily pack them and donate them.
I cannot underline the importance of reading. Keep reading. Novels. Fiction. Economics. History. Cheap thrillers. Young fiction. Just never stop grabbing that book. Books make wonderful companions. And they are friends who demand nothing in return except a little space in your duffel bag. And read in different languages. Keeps you sharp. Keeps you educated. Keeps you smart enough to teach more languages to your kids.
- Find a social cause.
Peace and satisfaction is always found outside the office. Join an NGO. Work with streechildren. Go clean the roads. Volunteer to teach on weekends. Or just support your maid’s kids or driver’s sister. Help someone in need. Plant a tree. Take the bus to work once a week. Reuse plastic. Give old clothes to charity. Take a cloth bag to the grocers. Do something selfless once in a while. It helps a lot. And you never know. Your good karma could be running out and needs an urgent refill. The universe has given you so much and now it is time to payback, in small favours.
- Become a Role Model
People should look at you and aspire to be you. Often we don’t know what we have achieved until someone else points it out to us. Our struggle in life and careers makes us break so many glass ceilings and kick open many closed doors without even realising it. Everyone of us is the first person to do something new, the first person to shine new light upon darkness. I believe that you should always keep have a farewell speech ready at any assignment. And it should always contain the words “ I have been to the mountaintop”.
12.Do something you have never done before.
Gaze at the endless expanse of the universe. Let the manacles you tied down yourself in be loosened for an instant. Do something you always have wanted to do but never got the money/guts/opportunity/time to do it. Go swimming in a river. Learn swimming. Get drunk and go home to your mother. Try a new cuisine. Invite your boss home to try a meal you have cooked. Run a marathon. Splurge on a vacation. Splurge on some shoes you loved. Go skydiving. Go snorkelling. Go on a trek you have never even thought of. Let your finger run on a map of India and go visit the place it stops at. Learn to write in a new language. The occasional bouts of madness are what keep us sane.
- Thirty is just a number.
This is the final reminder. Everything is just a number. I draw inspiration from my mother who learnt Bharatnatyam at 50 and performed on stage. She has proven it definitely that you are only as old as you think you are. Instead of worrying that you have grown older, you should rejoice that you have grown wiser. Birthdays stop mattering once you have left college although the occasional buddy will still attempt to splatter your face with cake and icing. Enjoy the time and enjoy yourself.
This list is neither authoritative nor is it extensive. It is merely an attempt for people to start focussing on things that matter in life. Hey! We aren’t young and foolish anymore! We are thirty now. Now make peace with it.