Now that I am 29…

…there are a few things that I’ve come to know for sure.

The person I am today is a far cry from the one I was when I entered this decade. The essence of me has been consistent, but a lot has changed over these years, and it wasn’t that apparent until the past 1 year. And I believe it is a great thing. Telling the people in your life (and expecting them) to “never change” is a foolish idea. They must change because even you’re changing – each day. It’s in the changing that we learn the patience for tolerating each other or the wisdom of letting go.

Nostalgia is deceptive. It makes the past seem rosier than it was. I’ve met people well into their late twenties or even mid-thirties, still clinging to their idea of the “best times of their lives” aka college days, and thereby behaving like the clueless, sometimes insensitive & mostly irresponsible retards we all were in our late teens & early twenties. And that’s just sad. There’s a time and place for each phase of our life, and they are better left behind when you move on to the next one. Also, there’s no such thing as “those were the only good days”. Today is the only good day. Because today is all you really have.

I’m not going to be one of those women who start lying about their age, now that they’re getting closer to reaching the dreaded 3-0. I feel blessed to have lived this long – especially since I know of people who never got the chance to be 29. My age will never be my shame. It’s my badge of pride. It says I’m a survivor – and a fabulous one at that.

It’s liberating to finally not care about what anyone thinks of me…as much as I did even a few years back. This whole getting comfortable in my own skin has taken time, and I’m glad it is finally happening. From being able to get out of the house without any makeup on and not care about who sees me, saying NO without following it up with a long-winded explanation to reacting to someone not liking me with a disinterested shrug – it has been taking shape nicely.

Friendships change. I have been guilty of cribbing in the past about how things are not the same anymore now that some friend or the other is in a relationship, has gotten married or is about to have a child. But I get it now. Of course, they aren’t the same. Because the circumstances aren’t the same either. At this point in my life, most of the friends that I have known or grown up with are going through major life changes, and hence their priorities have changed. It’s unfair to expect them to shower me with the same amount of attention as they did before. That was a different time – and it’s not coming back. And that’s okay. In each phase of your life, some of your ‘constants’ will keep changing – depending on where you are and who’s better equipped to understand the present point of your journey. The old friends will of course stay – but not the old friendships. The best thing you can do is accept it.

That being said, there are some friendships that have gotten stronger, some that have become family, and some that I have rediscovered. I’ve found my steady anchors in a few people who have been resiliently sticking around – even when I have not been the most stellar friend. And I am in the process of discovering certain latent connections with a few friends I never got the chance to get that close to. Turns out, the people who’re meant to stick around, usually do.

Vibes are really important. There’s an energy that each person you interact with brings to your life – and it’s either positive or negative. Each time I’ve ignored my gut and tried to force a connection with someone who frankly makes me feel like leaving the room, I’ve ended up feeling fake & miserable. I know now that staying true to your gut and allowing only the positive ones to be around you can save you a lot of head and heartache.

Kindness is not a weakness. I am an empathetic person, and I am prone to being a bonafide listener & motivator to the people I’ve known for years, and the people I’ve just met. Also, I’m utterly useless at “getting back” at the people who’ve treated me badly. I may distance myself from them – yes. But I wouldn’t set out to harm them in any way. And I’d still be polite to them if we cross paths. This decade of my life has put me through many such scenarios and people, where I haven’t received back the goodness, affection or respect that I have dished out. And I still can’t be mean to these people. It frustrates my friends and it used to annoy me as well – I saw it as a personal weakness – a lack of spine or something. But now I know, my spine is just fine. It’s just that treating people unkindly is not me. And forgiveness comes easily to me once I’m done grieving. That does not mean I’ll let them sashay back into my life – that door will have closed forever. But I’ll not let their actions taint or change my inner spirit.

I still believe in love. The head over heels kind. The crackling chemistry kind. The raging hormones kind. The fist bump buddy kind. The partner in chores and crime kind. The growing old together kind. Still believe it’ll happen. Still up for all the mess that comes with it. And the happiness.

The appeal in blowing my money at the nearest bar has started to pale when compared to spending it on a flight fare. In this year itself, I’ve had 3 big trips, of which one was my maiden trekking trip. And I intend to make traveling a major part of my lifestyle in the upcoming years. Because the world is too beautiful to not be explored, and life is too short to be whiled away in work commutes on weekdays and overcrowded bars on weekends.

Suffering through work is not worth it. 5 years back, I had left my first job because I hated the work I was doing – without another job in hand or any clue of what I would do next. Since then, I’ve been a freelancer, and I’ve done the kind of work that has lit me up and the kind that I had to suffer through, in order to be practical and keep the income lines running. Of late, the ratio of work that I like and hate had become pretty skewed. I found myself burning my precious hours over creating mindless content that served no one. Each day, it’d put me in a bad mood. But I was apprehensive about jumping ship – because, money. Until, right before my birthday, I was reminded of that girl from 5 years back who had the courage to prioritize her happiness over monetary security – and has never regretted that. It’s not for everyone – but that was what made me, me. So, I gathered the courage, and made the requisite changes (though with a better safety net this time), and I’m excited to see where this will take me.

Turns out, our parents are human after all. That is, they have been imperfect, clueless and in some cases pretty inefficient at raising us right.  And for all my peers with buns in their ovens – you’re probably going to screw up with your kid in one way or another as well. Realizing that our parents have had their limitations and moments of weaknesses and it had more to do with them than us really helps in moving past any resentment that we may have nurtured since childhood. We are not used to seeing our parents as simple individuals – just like us – who are in all probability winging it in their own lives as well. There’s no perfect parenting blueprint out there – because every parent and child is different. Of course, parents must make the effort and be there for their child in every way possible – since it was their choice to bring the child in the world. But I also realize that in their bid to do the best for their child, sometimes they make mistakes – and it’s okay. It’s daunting enough to be responsible for another human and raising a future member of the society. There’s no sense in blaming or punishing them for their past mistakes. Or punishing yourself by holding on to that pain or disappointment. Seeing my parents as mere humans, who’re as vulnerable as I am, has made a lot of things simpler and better.

Having fun is not overrated. As someone who has spent the majority of her twenties brooding and being moody all the time, I can vouch for this. Today, I see how hilarious this life is and how much fun I’ve been missing out on, simply by taking myself and life too seriously. Laughing more often, being willing to look like a fool, finding the fun in all you do, and simply having a good time – they are all worth it. In case you haven’t noticed yet, we’re mortal beings. There’s no sense in spending our numbered days scowling at the world. Anything that comes between you and a big hearty laugh – be it a person, a job or your own limiting beliefs – let them go.

You are more than you know. In the past 1 year, I have surprised myself and most of my close friends by being what they (or I) never imagined I could be – social. I have met more new people than I had in all of my past 28 years. I have done new things. Made some really, really bad decisions. And then, laughed them off. I have been smiling more easily, truly sharing what’s on my mind with my friends, being uncharacteristically enthusiastic and unapologetically honest. My friends say I’ve never looked happier – and that they didn’t know I had this in me. Neither did I. Not complaining, at all.

These are not some sudden epiphanies I have had just because I turned 29. They are what I have been learning over the years and have finally realized or made peace with. Because in the end, that’s what growing older is all about – you learn what you need to in order to be ready for what’s coming next. So here’s to my last year in the twenties. May it prepare me well for all the awesomeness and WTFs the next decade has in store for me. Cheers!

Author: Muktobrinda Dash

aka Mukto. She's 99% brunette. A serial tea guzzler. Incurably optimistic and literally myopic. She loves words in all its forms. Is an avid reader, writer and wanderer. Works as a freelance copywriter for her living. Blogs for happiness. P.S. She doesn’t usually talk in the third person. This is an aberration. She's a perfectly nice and non-facetious lady otherwise.

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