I woke up this morning and the first thing that came to mind was there is exactly 1 month until I turn 30. An overwhelming sense of panic came over me mixed with a dose of existential dread, natural as I am very close to leaving my 20’s (a decade I became very comfortable in) and embarking upon a new decade with it’s own set of societal set norms, expectations and worries. Seeing as how my teens and 20’s were spent in defiance of them (both intentionally and unintentionally) I am interested to see how my 30’s will unfold. I think I might even go as far as to say that I look forward to my 30’s being more secure and wise in my being.
As I now transition from my late 20’s to 30, a decade which is dubbed as the “new 20’s” (which I hope isn’t true at all because I have no desire to relive my 20’s I do not go into my 30’s without wisdom collected from my experience, inexperience, actions and in-actions, my embeddedness in an oppressive Punjabi household, my strong academic philosophical background and my subjectivity in this life that I was thrown into without permission, a life I didn’t chose to be in existence in. Here is the wisdom that I have collected, if it can be called wisdom at all.
1) Travel. If you don’t have a passport get one. You don’t need a lot of money, just a desire in your heart to see the world and a can-do-attitude, creativity, Google, and the ability to adjust to your surroundings and space. If all you can afford is a small cramped room with a shower that barely allows you so spread your arms wide, with an uncomfortable bed, terrible view, just book it! and deal with it. You’re really only going to sleep there. Spend the money that you saved on accommodations on new and interesting food, museum and art gallery tickets and some more food! Travel with your sisters. When you’re in Delhi in +45 degree weather you’ll learn how to make any uncomfortable space feel at home. When your sister is sick you’ll develop your mother’s touch. When you’re low on money because you didn’t convert enough dollars to rupees your sister will always be your personal bank. When your sister wants something really expensive you will become a natural bargainer. You’ll learn so much when you step outside your home country that no book, movie or philosophical quote can ever teach you.
2) Spend time with your parents. They are not going to be around forever. Travel with them. It’s cool to travel with your mom and dad. After moving to a foreign country for a promise at a “good opportunity”, years of working hard, paying off a mortgage, and never indulging in any luxuries just so that their children can live a comfortable life, you may be the only way they’ll be able to see Europe or South America. When you travel with them, roles will reverse. You’ll be the parent and your parents will be dependent on you for a good time. Show them a new place, old tall buildings, open markets sprawling with life and culture, go on a river boat cruise, and take a hike through a rainforest and see colourful birds and interesting animals. Take lots of pictures of them being silly. Buy them the first thing they point to like they’re a kid in a candy store and watch them eat that gelato. You’ll see the world through your parents eyes which very much resembles like a child. It’s priceless.
3) Love your grandparents. Not everyone is lucky to have grandparents. It’s difficult to be patient with them but try.
4) Smile. Smiling looks good on everyone. If you’re having a bad day fake a smile for those around you until you believe that it’s not fake (for no one will believe your lie if you don’t believe in it first). You fake smile might even turn genuine. Don’t look down and walk, keep your head high and smile to strangers. Not everyone will smile back but when you get a smile back from one person, it’ll feel great. When you smile, the world really does smile back.
5) Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. Practice sympathy, empathy and pity. Everyone is struggling. Give the comfort you want to receive.
6) Don’t be impulsive. Think before you buy something. Wasting money isn’t good, hording is even worse, and never using something you purchased makes little sense. Buy only what you need and think clearly about what you “need” as it’s very easy to confuse what you think you “need” with what you “want”
7) Eat chocolate. Life is too short to say no to chocolate. Eat it in moderation though because chocolate is not worth getting fat for.
8) Do what makes you happy but be considerate of how your actions and inactions will affect those around you.
9) Call in sick for work and take a road trip.
10) Don’t try to be moral all the time, sometimes being selfish at the right place at the right time makes for a good story and even nicer memories.
11) Be in the moment. Try not to take pictures of every thing. Sometimes being present in the moment when the server brings your food is nicer than taking the perfect picture because the perfect picture can ruin what could have been a perfect moment.
12) Study what you want. Get a MA or PhD in philosophy if that if what your heart desires. It isn’t a waste of time. It’s fruitful but only a small handful of people will understand that. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t lead to a six figure salary because the pursuit of knowledge is a good end.
13) If you don’t have a lot of money you’ll still be okay. You can set your goal on accumulating wealth but there’s no end to numbers. Put some aside for a rainy day, give some to charity and use some for yourself. Travel, eat good food, drink exquisite wine, eat fine chocolate, read books, buy precise paint brushes and make a lot of art.
14) Love. Love with all your heart. Love even if you’re not loved in return. Love until you have a goofy face on in the bus while reading a text message. Love until love makes you cry and makes you wish you were dead. Love as much as you can and as often as you can. Love like you’re going to lose our love.
15) Be unapologetically you. Don’t change for anyone. It’s not worth it.
16) Just accept the fact that not everyone sees the world the same way you do, but some do. Keep those people close to you even if they live far away. Text them, Skype them, schedule to meet up with them.
17) I’m not in competition with anyone. I have no to compete at being “better than” everyone else but rather I’m trying to be a better person than I was yesterday.
18) If ever you meet a wonderful guy don’t play hard-t0-get. Text him right away because life is short, especially if you don’t get the attention from guys at all.
19) Sometimes you just have to realize that it is what it is, you can only control the way you look at the situation.
20) Expectation is really the root of heartache.
21) I wont love you forever, I’ll love you for a series of “right nows”
22) Drink good coffee, fair coffee, use brown sugar and have good company.
23) Life is important but it is also meaningless. It’s only after I realized that is completely and utterly meaningless that I finally understood what it’s all about.
24) Some of the most interesting people are those that do not know what to do with their lives. I’ve realized it. It’s true. The ones who do have goals are great. Those who seem to have “everything” (those cookie cutter lives) have sacrificed a lot to have what appears to be “perfect”
25) Being vegetarian was one of the best choices I have ever made.
26) After a nice shower, dry yourself off and just admire your nude self.