IN ABOUT two weeks, I’ll be turning 30 and, I’d be lying if I said that I am not looking forward to it. I am not among those, who shy away from getting older. I like to celebrate that day, sometimes ridiculously and embarrassingly in grand fashion. In that department, I’m still a five-year-old. Those close to me would know, how my birthday has me excited at least two months ahead of time. Of course, now, with age and work, that countdown process seems rather tedious. Between ‘work-eating-gym-again more work-eating-sleep’ time, my brain finds little space for ‘50 days to go’ reminders. These days, my girlfriends do that job for me, and I’m like, “Aah, yes! Is it?”
Point is, it’s finally happening — That Big Three Oh. And, I am not dreading it. But, the mind has to day-dream, ponder and rue occasionally. During one such contemplative moment, I looked back to the start of the decade, one that’s soon ending. And, that’s when I figured that as happy as I am now, my 21-year-old self wouldn’t have liked this version of me. Naah! Not at all! In fact, she’d hate and resist me!
When I was 20, I had big plans, like really, really big plans for a woman of my age. Tell me, which person would otherwise have their life chalked out so clearly, year for year, date for date. I remember once, how my mum had broached marriage talk, and I defiantly said, “I am not going to get into this jhamela until I am 25”. Then, to make my stand very clear, I doled out juvenile predictions: Marriage by 26. One kid by 27. And, another may be, just before I hit 30. Quit job at 35, freelance soon after. I was also going to have a house of my own, a big Xmas Tree (irrelevant how this detail was important) and an awesome make-believe life in Canada or Australia. So, typical, right!
Of course, I had conveniently forgotten to fit a lot of things into this ‘big plan’ – like what would my career look like, would I ever be able to rustle up a meal for myself [let alone for my family], how would I deal with rejections in love or any unexpected failure in life.
Living like I had, fresh out of college, naive, inexperienced, sucker for mush and fairytale endings with crazy maternal-instincts brimming, I thought I could conquer my fantasies at the snap of my fingers, when and how I wished.
But, it’s this same immaturity that saw me through my 20s. The desire to have all that I had wished for – earnestly hoping each birthday that this year would be different from the last – only made me more purposeful. Surprisingly, this goal set me up on another, unforeseen plane.
Some two years ago, when I dived into a pool from the perilous edge of a mountain, while undertaking a rather, brave canyoning trip in Oman, I thought all my plans were going to come undone. In that moment of sinking deep and hitting the rocky crevices of the natural pool, I feared I would break my leg and never rise again. But, I did wade up and swim back to the surface.
Now, that I am here, safe and out of danger, I realised that in between wanting to have a dreamy wedding and so many babies, I had also written a book, moved countries, churned inspiring bylines, cooked meals in the kitchen, walked down the cobblestone pathways of Greece, trekked through the mountains, broken my heart (probably unknowingly broken someone else’s), bought a car, chatted with my favourite writers, introduced hundreds of young girls to the world of journalism, returned to my first love Mumbai and made many, many new soul friends. One of the other bigger lessons I learnt in my 20s, was to stop resisting or opposing the idea of something, no matter how much I disliked it.
And, because this 21-year-old version of me had never thought that this decade would pan out like this, she would look down at this life with great trepidation. She’d think I had been defeated and lost. Obviously, then, she wouldn’t have known that I was hoarding beautiful, little memories that I would eventually hang on that big Xmas Tree — the one I wished to have someday.
Until then, I am making new plans for the 30s. And, I probably already know it will look different when I turn 40.