Tag Archives: Three-O

The 30s Are A PostWar Dream

A classmate called. He said he missed true friends. I said, “It’s early mid-life crisis after the disillusionment of the 20s. We are all in it.” The 20s are a maniac’s dream. Everything is available & possible. There is an unrealistic shine on everything. It takes a few knocks to realise how harsh it is.

A month before my 30, I quit a job I’d coveted for a decade. I needed to, to be able to look back without regret. I’ll never trade the sense of achievement from my career highs. I wouldn’t exchange the confidence built brick by brick. It would be unrealistic to hold onto these but not the things that made them possible.

I look at my life and then all around me. There’s divorce, suicide, career failure, drug abuse, financial crises, abortions and dead-end jobs. There are also reunions & rediscovering people who were close an eon ago. There are healthy diets, exercise regimes, budgeting, tax planning. There’s cutting back and there’s making time.

I spent a long time wanting many things very much, some of which I didn’t get and much else for which I paid too dearly. I had some bad stuff happen to me which messed me up. But those people are not connected to me by anything but memories. It wasn’t my fault they were bad people or bad decisions or bad luck. Unpredictability is what you sign up for when you quit a career cold-turkey. Or get divorced or don’t get married ‘at the right age’. Or well, are born.

People make mistakes. Sometimes they get lost. Maybe you get to remedy it, maybe not. You just cope better the next time.

My friend said he’d wanted to be a big success but it felt so lonely at the end. I said I hadn’t spent enough time on the things I now know are important – Love. Friendship. A body that works without medication. Food in my stomach before I’m hungry. The safety to walk on the roads by myself.

He said that was the MBA talking. I said, “That’s just one more thing on my resume now, not my identity.” What is my identity now? Who knows? I have a new life to discover. Maybe 40 is what comes after one masters survival and starts looking for life instead.

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THE 30s ARE A POSTWAR DREAM A classmate called. He said he missed true friends. I said, "It’s early mid-life crisis after the disillusionment of the 20s. We are all in it." The 20s are a maniac’s dream. Everything is available & possible. There is an unrealistic shine on everything. It takes a few knocks to realise how harsh it is. A month before my 30, I quit a job I’d coveted for a decade. I needed to, to be able to look back without regret. I’ll never trade the sense of achievement from my career highs. I wouldn’t exchange the confidence built brick by brick. It would be unrealistic to hold onto these but not the things that made them possible. I look at my life and then all around me. There’s divorce, suicide, career failure, drug abuse, financial crises, abortions and dead-end jobs. There are also reunions & rediscovering people who were close an eon ago. There are healthy diets, exercise regimes, budgeting, tax planning. There's cutting back and there's making time. I spent a long time wanting many things very much, some of which I didn’t get and much else for which I paid too dearly. I had some bad stuff happen to me which messed me up. But those people are not connected to me by anything but memories. It wasn’t my fault they were bad people or bad decisions or bad luck. Unpredictability is what you sign up for when you quit a career cold-turkey. Or get divorced or don’t get married ‘at the right age’. Or well, are born. People make mistakes. Sometimes they get lost. Maybe you get to remedy it, maybe not. You just cope better the next time. My friend said he'd wanted to be a big success but it felt so lonely at the end. I said I hadn’t spent enough time on the things I now know are important – Love. Friendship. A body that works without medication. Food in my stomach before I’m hungry. The safety to walk on the roads by myself. He said that was the MBA talking. I said, "That’s just one more thing on my resume now, not my identity." What is my identity now? Who knows? I have a new life to discover. Maybe 40 is what comes after one masters survival and starts looking for life instead. ——————– 🎶: COME AS YOU ARE – Nirvana #theideasmithy

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

39 Looks Like This

When was the last time you saw a 30- something look like this? That’s a 30-something pretending to be 20 and you bought it.

We have a mental picture next to each age number till 25. ‘Kid’ gets bigger till it hits ‘Grownup’. ‘OLD’ is a white-bearded, balding man or a toothless, hunched crone leaning on a stick. We are quick with the statement “You don’t look that old at all! You look YOUNG !”. We mean it as a compliment as if being a certain age is the ideal way to be, instead of a natural life stage that everyone passes through for exactly the same time. We decide that young and old are about age bands, rather than a set of factors like experience, exposure, financial independence, emotional maturity, physical fitness, metabolic health, mental stability and attitude. We assume that a ‘Not Young’ person suddenly has a slower pace, less dramatic body language, tighter frame of movements. We assign a limited ABC book image to the binary labels of ‘Young’ and ‘Not Young’. Anyone different may gain temporary membership to the coveted Club of Young.

Being told I look younger is not a compliment. I don’t look 17 because at that age I hadn’t learnt how to manage my allergies & my periods and it showed. I don’t look 24 because then, I was severely underweight from being assaulted and had stretch marks. I don’t look 28 because then I was strapped into a corporate life, weighed down by appropriateness & stress greying. I don’t look 33 because I had water retention & dark circles from an abusive relationship.

I look every minute of my 39 years. The lift in these dusky skinned, bony arms was hard won. The smooth lines of my hair were the result of many negotiations between beauty standards & personal preferences. That tilt of face is measured in the slaps I endured to keep me down. The grace in awkward, clutching fingers took years of accepting my traumas and learning to do so on stage. The feet planted firmly apart have warred against manspreaders and slut-shamers and managed to stay standing. 39 is the story of many wars survived.

Don’t erase my history and tell me that it’s a compliment. 39 looks like this.

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When was the last time you saw a 30- something look like this? Swipe to see. That's a 30-something pretending to be 20 and you bought it. We have a mental picture next to each age number till 25. 'Kid' gets bigger till it hits 'Grownup'. ‘OLD’ is a white-bearded, balding man or a toothless, hunched crone leaning on a stick. We are quick with the statement “You don’t look that old at all! You look YOUNG !”. We mean it as a compliment as if being a certain age is the ideal way to be, instead of a natural life stage that everyone passes through for exactly the same time. We decide that young and old are about age bands, rather than a set of factors like experience, exposure, financial independence, emotional maturity, physical fitness, metabolic health, mental stability and attitude. We assume that a ‘Not Young’ person suddenly has a slower pace, less dramatic body language, tighter frame of movements. We assign a limited ABC book image to the binary labels of ‘Young’ and ‘Not Young’. Anyone different may gain temporary membership to the coveted Club of Young. Being told I look younger is not a compliment. I don’t look 17 because at that age I hadn’t learnt how to manage my allergies & my periods and it showed. I don’t look 24 because then, I was severely underweight from being assaulted and had stretch marks. I don’t look 28 because then I was strapped into a corporate life, weighed down by appropriateness & stress greying. I don’t look 33 because I had water retention & dark circles from an abusive relationship. I look every minute of my 39 years. The lift in these dusky skinned, bony arms was hard won. The smooth lines of my hair were the result of many negotiations between beauty standards & personal preferences. That tilt of face is measured in the slaps I endured to keep me down. The grace in awkward, clutching fingers took years of accepting my traumas and learning to do so on stage. The feet planted firmly apart have warred against manspreaders and slut-shamers and managed to stay standing. 39 is the story of many wars survived. Don’t erase my history and tell me that it’s a compliment. 39 looks like this. 📸: @professor.shonku #theideasmithy

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10 Years Is A Long Time On A Ferris Wheel Called Life

So I did the #10YearChallenge. And this is what I figured out about myself.

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10 Years is a Long Time on a Ferris wheel called Life I've not gained a lot of kilos in ten years. But I have accumulated memories that give me a certain jaded, wary, not-much-impresses-me-anymore look. Let's see – a transformative relationship, a failed engagement, two homes, three careers, two partnerships and one tattoo. Yes, the tattoo you see, was there a decade ago and even then it was an old one. I was simultaneously an aging soul and a newly minted developing human being. 2009 was the year I turned 30 and decided to stop letting numbers, designations, addresses and other such labels define me. As 2019 begins, I'm finding myself at a new crossroads and looking ahead to how I see myself and the most important thing in my life – my relationships. You never stop learning. And I never seem to stop coming of age. The years fool you. Picture edits: @unstable_elemnt #10yearchallenge #glowup #glowupchallenge #glowupchallenge💯 #glowupchallenge👑 #glowupchallenge✨ #howdidagehityouchallenge #the30diaries #turning30 #thethirties #10yearschallenge #timeline #2009vs2019

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I’ve not gained a lot of kilos in ten years. But I have accumulated memories that give me a certain jaded, wary, not-much-impresses-me-anymore look.

Let’s see – a transformative relationship, a failed engagement, two homes, three careers, two partnerships and one tattoo. Yes, the tattoo you see, was there a decade ago and even then it was an old one. I was simultaneously an aging soul and a newly minted developing human being.

2009 was the year I turned 30 and decided to stop letting numbers, designations, addresses and other such labels define me. As 2019 begins, I’m finding myself at a new crossroads and looking ahead to how I see myself and the most important thing in my life – my relationships.

You never stop learning. And I never seem to stop coming of age. The years fool you.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

August Is Good

Birthday month came and passed. The birthday was sweet. I’m now officially in my last year of being able to write The Thirty Diaries. Soon to be officially middle-aged.

Yesterday I asked a friend if he’d let me know when I started looking old. He paused and said, “Uh okay, if you want me to.” I said yes, I did. I had about as much trouble dealing with the natural fact of ageing as the average person. But I never wanted to be that old person who still thought they were young. That’s all I want to say about Im-feeling-old.

August has been very nice but then it is the month of Leo and this sign is always good to me – with its people and with how it manifests in my own life. I’ve started a couple of new projects. It feels good to feel productive and I’ll admit it, I have missed the nerdy ordinariness of being an office worker. The glamour of entrepreneurship or creative fields have never been their draw for me. And I tired of that very quickly, not the least of which is people’s crazy perceptions about it. “You have such a glamorous life! You’re so lucky to have a talent.” – Sigh, no, it’s a whole lot of grit and hard work, just like any other job. “How irresponsible to quit a respectable job to do this..what is it that you do?” – No more irresponsible than starting a marriage based on other people’s decisions or having a baby because it’s the thing to do and yet here we are Mrs.Motherhood-is-so-haaaard. Oh well, I can flash a little bit of respectability now as needed.

I spent a lovely Sunday dipping into different conversations, events and people’s lives. A literary gathering devoid of the pressure to manage or create or even, well socialise. This is so tiring now. The more I’ve written and performed, the less I find I need to talk to people. I’m quieter inside and outside now, the more expressive I get online and on stage. Another friend catchup disguised as a workshop. And then a party that was unlike anything I’ve attended at least in the last few years. Maybe proximity to the sea does that.

I’ve been meeting more friends and few colleagues or fellow poets. I’ve been letting myself feel the ache of stress in my shoulders, my stomach and my uterus. I’ve been allowing the possibility of crushes or even fleeting interest to breeze through my day. And they pass. August is good, so good. I just wish it weren’t so ephemeral. But maybe that is the beauty of it.

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The Lone Runner On The Treadmill

I wish I knew more people like me. I mean single Indians who’ve made choices and made mistakes. People who have broken some rules inadvertently and others because it was the only way to survive. The single Indian bit is important and come to think of it, being female too. But most important of all, people my age who are all this.

I have a world full of great folks who are at least 5 years younger than I am. Technology and exponentially leaping progress have made this a generation gap. While I find most of my tribe in the generation after mine, the fact still remains that I’m a few steps ahead. I’m past the time of competing for things that I know now to not be important. Or fearing things I can imagine because I’ve survived worse surprises and I know your mind is nothing but a horror movie that’s scary but can be turned off. I know all this and sometimes it gets tiresome being the only one who knows.

Specifically this applies to my romantic and to a lesser degree my professional choices. It’s only someone very naive that would say,

“Why do you care what other people think? Live life your own way.”

My world is full of people mouthing such platitudes, truly believing they’re wise and strong. They have not yet realised the impact of that idea, having rarely experienced it in its true brave-brutal-hostility-face-crippling-fear-be-attacked way. This is a brutally difficult path to follow for your career and I’ve managed it. But it makes no sense to me to think of relationships this way since relationships are about caring about other people. I’m tired of the glamorisation of the single life, possibly by unhappily married people wishing they could have something that isn’t actually real.

Today I had a conversation with a friendly acquaintance, on adjacent treadmills to be sure, at gym. She’s a few years younger than I am, happily married. She charmed me at our first meeting when she said she had no intention of having children and why should be the world’s business? That’s grounds enough for a friendship, I decided. It is and yet it’s not close enough. In conversations about love lives and life choices, she said,

“But do you even want comittment? I would think you’re the kind of woman who doesn’t really want all that. You’re so independent.”

She is so young, is all I could think. And yet, I know now that most men who’ve known me, romantically or otherwise echo the same black-and-white sentiment. Why does my desire to drive things mean that I do not want companionship? Why is my unwillingness to settle for abuse, disrespect and subjugation seen as comittment aversion?

I do want comittment, but with the right person. I know firsthand what a nightmarish hell it is to be comitted to someone who does not like you, does not care for you and wishes you harm. A lot of people think that made me afraid of relationships. It didn’t. It gave me perspective. If my only choice were a bad relationship or singledom, today I know which is the better one and that’s the one I’ve chosen. But I didn’t choose singledom over a promising (since that’s as good as it realistically can be) relationship because there isn’t one on my horizon right now.

A lot of the people in my life are men. My experiences tell me that if a man is not attracted to me, he is not likely to pay anything more than superficial attention to me. He’s just not interested in my life because I’m not a goal. If he is attracted to me, even faintly, it narrows the way I can be and things I can speak about because an innate need to compete and then judge crop up. Men are such limited human beings, no thank you for the socialisation, India.

Women on the other hand, can be bright, brave creatures. I love how many 27-33 year old women I know now who are single, beautiful, brave, intelligent and confident in their lives. I was the only one I knew when I was all those ages, and surrounded by boyfriend stealers, frenemies, girls who played dumb before the boys, girls who manipulated and tore each other down. I love that there are more women I can relate to now. But, they still are younger. They’re dealing with some of the things I’m still dealing with (thanks again for the rape culture, India). But they’ve not yet had to think about the biological clock and about annual health checkups, to name just two things. They’re dealing with other things I did not have to then (“Are you a good enough feminist?”). They are not me yet. Maybe they won’t be and I hope the world will be a better place for them when they’re 37.

Where does that put me? Running on the treadmill, alone. I did not choose to be here. But in life, as in the gym, if you’re there, you have to keep moving.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Pop A Pill, Define A Generation

The full health check-up I got done last month, revealed a thyroid deficiency. I’ve been advised to take a pill every day. “For how many days?” I asked my doctor. “You have to just keep taking it,” he said. It’s kept me glum over this weekend. I know science understands the functioning of our bodies as well as drugs a lot better than it did 30 years ago. I have also been made aware that the pill I’ve been prescribed, is not a medicine but in fact a supplement to make up for what my body isn’t producing naturally. And finally, the fact that there isn’t an easily known cause or reason for this happening. Only that it’s common enough for most people (and medical professionals) to not bat an eyelid.

Image via Unsplash/John Towner

Image via Unsplash/John Towner

One part of me feels like something has been completed. It’s not a dramatic sense of completion. It’s more like finally finding an answer to a long pondered-over sum. Whether it is the right one or not, who knows? After a year of stumbling about in the dark, wondering if mental illness may be a reality I’d have to deal with, it may turn out to be nothing more than a (relatively simpler) hormone readjustment. I am a woman after all; my body is a test site for all manner of hormone fluctuations known to humankind. It could also explain my frequently falling sick since loss of immunity is one of the side-effects of thyroid deficiency.

There is a sense of sombreness that has settled over me this weekend. It’s not sadness, it’s not pain, it’s not desperation. It’s not even melancholy. It is a sense of things passing, of letting some things pass or having them pass over you willy-nilly. 37 is not 22.

I’m feeling something in my spirit, subconsciously drawing lines. I cannot and do not want to keep up with 20-somethings anymore. A generation gap has opened up and I’m the one defining that line. In a sense, I’ve been moving towards this for years. My solo dates, my gradual cutting down of frantic socialising, my distaste for intoxication (even while juggling the ‘no-judgements’ stance that allows one to be a part of the social circles), my attitudes to sex and friendship and relationships. It’s all there, building up to this very thing. I don’t want to live like I’m 22 and apparently, I can’t anymore either. It is a sobering thought.

I’ve also been growing increasingly aware of other people getting older. My peers are struggling with the realities of life we weren’t taught to anticipate or handle. And my parents generation, what of them? Many of them are so admirably adapting to things that even my generation finds tough.

Amidst all the jokes about ‘My mother is on Whatsapp and I have to make sure she doesn’t see me online’ and ‘Oh god, my father sent me a Facebook friend request’, something else stands out. While my generation is already giving up on Snapchat, sex and relationships, the generation before ours is still willing to embrace technology, new connections and world views. We are neither as wise nor as strong. And their generation is only getting older, frailer, tireder. Yet they solder on valiently. But like all things, that must come to pass. And then, what will happen of us? What indeed, will happen of me?

I wonder how much of my full, active, happening life is like the pill I’ve to pop every day – a supplement to what should occur naturally but does not.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

No Generation Of My Own

I was 30 before I got into a ‘proper’ relationship and it was with someone younger. Someone asked my father,

“Doesn’t it seem like Ramya is five years behind her generation?”

He said,

“Or maybe, she’s five years ahead of her generation.”

Yes, that is a wonderful reference for a parent to set and sustain. I didn’t see it that way myself till I heard it.

I never identified with my age-peers. When I was 16, I couldn’t see what point there was in getting into any manner of flirtation or relationships. I could already see that there would be all manner of drama, family, friends and self-caused. Weren’t there already enough things to torment a teenager in India in the 90s?

I also never really ‘got’ the marriage thing through my 20s. Why are you marrying him or her, I’d ask my friends and get answers like, “Because it’s the thing to do”, “because my parents said so”.

And finally when I first quit my important corporate job to stop, think and catch my breath (the term ‘sabbatical’ was not common then), NOBODY got it. But a few months in, surprised at my okayness, people would keep saying, “Oh, lucky you, I wish I could do that!”. Why not, I’d ask, do you have a family to support or loans to pay off? None of these conversations ever happened with anyone who would have to say Yes to that.

All in all, I’ve never gotten the generation that people say I’m a part of.

On the other hand, my work, my hobbies, my love life and my life style are populated by people about 5 years younger than I. Since they came into the properly adult world in their mid-20s, they’ve felt more like my rightful generation, my crowd than the people I shared classrooms, playgrounds and career levels with.

But there’s something else. Haven’t I often said I feel old? I do. I carry the point of view of a 37 year old in a generation of 31 year olds. I have the memories and lessons of an 80s upbringing in a world of 90s and noughties kids. This is not about maturity because I don’t think that is a linear thing. Maturity has a great deal to do with personality, with experience and insight and time doesn’t exist on the same dimension as those things. This is about perspective and priority.

I tire often of the younger men I date because they are struggling with managing time, health and newfound economic freedom. I’ve already gone through these teething problems and woes and I know what works best for me. I have no desire to relive them in someone else’s problems this time.

I find myself getting impatient with my younger friends for their ineptitude, and in what silly ways they let ego blind their promises and work quality. It’s not that I was any better when I was in my late 20s. But I’ve passed through those tests of fire and I don’t struggle with them anymore. Even the very natural insecurities and diffidence — it’s starting to wear me down, how much there is in everybody around me.

Were we also that scared of everything? I’m sure we were but we were each so consumed in our fears that we scarcely paid heed to each other and the world around us. And therein lies a ‘we’ that I dislike. I suddenly have something in common with a generation that I never felt I fit in with.

But they don’t feel like a comfortable fit either. They’re grousing about struggling marriages (well, what did you expect with the reasons you got into them?), deadend careers (again, follow the rules not your independent mind and are you surprised?) and how ‘today’s kids’ spend so much time on Facebook and Twitter. I’m shutting that door already, saying oops, I entered the wrong room.

My two closest friends are both six years younger than I am. One of them has moved across the country for a girlfriend then moved back and changed careers. Another has quit a super prestigious corporate career, gotten married, started an unconventional (and seemingly uncool) business and then changed. These experiences undoubtedly put them beyond their age-peers in terms of perspective. They are exceptions as am I. It makes it possible for us to be very good friends. But exceptions have to be loners because we tread such unique paths.

This isn’t an angry or even a sad place. I don’t anymore feel like I don’t know my place in the universe. I know that it doesn’t have to do with what other people say and each day I’m getting a little closer to knowing what it is. I’ve gone a full circle from sitting by the phone with no one wanting to speak to me to switching off my phone to hide under hoods so I can get some private time. No, it’s not a desolate place at all. But it is a lonely place, waiting for the world to catch up, knowing maybe no generation ever will.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Designing Your Own Happy

I primarily left the corporate world because of the people. I couldn’t bear the idea of living the rest of my life, centered around pettiness and politics and that’s all I saw around me. I drifted gradually into more creative circles. I met artists, writers, musicians, actors, performers. I also met a lot of people who were doing other things independent of the corporate world. Entrepreneurs, new industry pioneers, people who had either quit or said no to more traditional and lucrative (read responsible) life choices. Yes, there is no such a thing as a compartmentalised career, especially not in a place like Mumbai. What you do for a living defines the other aspects of your life and the roles you get to play in society too.

Here too, I found disillusionment in human beings, in how often we allowed ourselves to fall into small-time manipulation and bickering instead of chasing things that really inspired us. My sabbatical hit shock after shock. My father said,

“What do you expect? It’s people. You’ll find that everywhere.”

I had had about a decade of people experiences before I walked this path. Why then, did I expect the world outside the corporate structure would be different?

Here’s why. No one becomes an insurance agent or a market researcher or a project manager for the love of it. Sure, a lot of people find tremendous satisfaction in the jobs they are doing. But how many of them would continue doing so if they didn’t have to or if they didn’t get paid to do them?

On the other hand, I left what may have been a more comfortable life behind because I saw a tiny opportunity to spend it doing what I loved instead. I would have and I did write even when I wasn’t getting paid for it, even when I didn’t have to do it. Much before the internet and blogging were realities, I was writing. I imagine these worlds are populated by people like myself, who were pulled out of their steady lives by the dream of something that touched them more. I didn’t expect to find the kind of spiritual fatigue, the weary psyche that causes people to politic rather than inspire, here.

I’ve known a poet whose primary objective is to play victim. I’ve spoken to a standup comic who spends more time brooding over how his successful peers only got that way through contacts. I’ve been with a performer whose sole objective is to maintain the identity of an angry, downtrodden rapper to the exclusion of all else. I’ve hung around with countless entrepreneurs who’ve used their business/project as an excuse to write away all kinds of terrible behaviour (cheating, disrespect, fraud). And I’ve met countless writers who are — plain and simple — assholes. That’s it, that is their whole entire identity. An asshole who happens to write.

The last gives me a little clue into what’s happening, perhaps because I know this group best, being one myself (writer, I hope, not asshole). Most of us don’t really, truly know what we’re chasing. We give it the best, easiest or most socially acceptable label we can find. It’s not cool to say I’m seeking more popularity than I have here. Or that I want to be pampered and my life doesn’t give me that. Or that I think the world owes me a favour but if I have a regular job, I’m expected to give as I take so that doesn’t work for me.

It’s really the same things that people in the corporate world are searching for — fame, money, success but also acknowledgement, belonging, approval, respect, identity. The kind of structured universe that the corporate world is, just enforces some kind of order and following of rules with or without enrollment. Maybe it’s true. Those who can’t abide by that have bigger problems.

Then again, I guess it’s okay as long as you get what you’re looking for. There’s nothing poetic about a drama queen but that’s fine if you’re looking for attention, not beauty. Resentment is not funny either but maybe you’re not looking for a reason to laugh yourself. As for the angry rapper, well, maybe my idea of unhappiness is his idea of fulfilment.

Me? I chose peace and happiness. I’m not the best writer around but I’m being the best I know how to be. I’m not the most successful or even the best known but I try to remember that I was inspired by the thought of a lifetime of writing, not a fat bank balance. It’s feeling like things are more better than worse and I feel that way. Happiness is not a 24×7 party and I’m just glad I get to go to it.

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I Want To Stop Counting But I Don’t Know How

I turned 36 five days ago. All I feel is lost, weightless, formless, restless. Less. Less. Less. Since my last birthday, I’ve had a half-year of frenzied work and I managed to rack up again all the stress and related ailments that I accumulated during my stint in the corporate world in the 20s. Friendships were made and lost, love found and gone.

And I started 2015 feeling adult and peaceful. Health was my big drug of this year. I started waking up earlier, trying to go to bed on time and after years of scoffing at the neon, synthetic brigade, I joined a gym. I’ve been plodding and I’ve seen some results. But I don’t feel happier. I feel like I’m watering a dead plant. What is the point?

Good things have happened. I’m now officially, a published author. It was anticlimactic. I feel very little.

Three men expressed an interest in me. I navigated my way out of it, ungracefully but I made it out, not wanting to succumb to temptation just because it was offered. And literally days after that went away, two more men, both friends this time showed up, affections in hand. I feel nothing but a big crease of a frown weighing me down. As my friends, I am able to see them as funny, intelligent, caring human beings. But when love, relationships and sex come into the equation, before my eyes, they grow into selfish, brutally cruel monsters who don’t feel the need to keep their promises and who will never be punished for hurting me and the brunt of which I will have to bear. It all makes me feel so tired, I just want to curl up and go to sleep forever.

I also did an Art of Living program in the weekend just before my birthday and felt very mature about doing so instead of putting alcohol, junk food, loud music and forced smiles into my life in the guise of a party. All we did was breathe in different ways. I think it brought up a lot of things (or at least I hope that’s what it was). I can’t otherwise explain the unaccountable sense of depression I felt all day through my birthday.

I think I’ve been very, very afraid of anger for the past three years, since my relationship ended. I’ve not allowed myself to feel it and I’ve walked away from situations where it could come up in other people. Things have been very civil these past few years. But I’m realising my anger is as much a part of the positive things in my life as the negative. Anger has been my way to cope with crippling fear. Anger salvaged me when the love of my life dumped me with all the cruelty a 20 year old can muster. It gave me clarity when my family went demented with grief (my grandfather’s cancer). It carried me through and out of an abusive relationship with a bad, very bad man. It gave me the impetus to battle gender biases in college, uncomfortable journeys during my early work years and the twisted politics of the corporate world. With anger gone, all I feel is dread and soul-sucking fear. All I am, is a painted shell.

There was much more substance to me when I was writing whiny poetry about a lost love or picturing horrible things happening to mean bosses in cartoons. I feel like the insides of me have nothing, only stale air. All there is room for, is fear. Fear, unlike anger is not a filling emotion. Anger consumes you, like lava churning up inside and spilling out, bubbling over in tears, words and actions. Fear, on the other hand, sucks you in smaller and deeper and tinier and lesser. I fear losing everything and everyone. I fear I have already lost everything and everyone. I fear that I never had any of it in the first place. I fear that I’ve fallen off the treadmill called life, called career, called love, called friendship. I fear that I’ve lost the ability to trust or care for another human being. I fear that I’ve lost the ability to work, succeed and sustain a comfortable life. I fear that I’ve made a mess of everything. I fear that there is nothing left to go on for.

Thirty-six seems like a very old age to be. I’m not married and I can’t anymore see the possibility of a loving, trusting relationship in my life. That can only be possible if I can give at least some of that back. And too much has happened. I feel twisted in ways that I cannot come back from. Damaged and broken. In 13 years I haven’t been able to get past my paralysing fear of Delhi men (after the bad, bad man). I think I’ll live my whole life being petrified of abuse survivors, fearing their pain, fearing they will punish me for it, the way it happened the last time round. And then again, since every new experience has brought fresh pain, what new horror will life wreak on me? I fear it all.

Career and money are slipping away and I feel like it’s a matter of time before I wake up and find myself standing by the side of the road, desperately hungry and with no money to buy food and no way to make any money. I’d be Tom Hanks in the Terminal, only without his unyielding spirit, his absolute faith in home. Where is home? I don’t know anymore. Everything hurts, everybody hurts. Attention, negligence, good health, bad health, fixedness, mobility, noise, silence — everything causes pain.

The organisers of the Art of Living program said that a lot of things would come up and that meant there was much to be resolved. I just feel so tired. Tired, but unable to sleep or rest. I can’t even summon up the energy to be angry. I don’t know if I want to see to 40. What’s the point? It just seems like a downward spiral.

Happy birthday to me. I don’t wish I had never been born. But now that it’s done, can we get it over with soon please? I’m finding it really difficult to go on.

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