Tag Archives: Three-O

The Three Mistakes Of My Thirties

Today is the last day of The Thirty Diaries, a series I started a little over a decade ago. Tomorrow, I turn 40, a number that brings its share of weight in the form of platitudes and stereotypes, some of which I’ve already encountered and battled. I am not sure if there will be a Forty Diaries. For starters, I don’t know how long I will continue to blog and in this manner. I don’t know if anybody else will be interested in the ruminations of an over-40 single woman. I’m not sure that journaling my ageing is going to serve the same purpose it did when I was in my 20s or 30s. And most of all, I don’t see any reason to start a new decade with references of the past.

It has certainly been a hard decade. It only became clear to me in the last few weeks that the past ten years of my life have been marked and influenced by three major relationships – one romantic, one friendship, one professional. All three of them were toxic in exactly the same way. They all started with people who were seemingly enamoured with me suddenly and dramatically. People who did not have a pattern of such behaviour (or claimed they did not). The attention, affection, adulation was heady. It turned my head every time.

In the second phase of this pattern, I fell headlong into some kind of close involvement with the person. Every one of these people told me about what a strong person I was, how they admired/looked up to me. And in every one of those cases, I let that adulation lull me into letting them drive the other parts of my life. I let go of other people because they didn’t like them. I changed my appearance, my dating habits, my ideologies, even my health regime to please them. And some part of me still struggles to see these as bad – don’t we all do things like these for the people we love? Maybe I do it too much and for too long. I am aware of that and how that gets labelled toxic. The thing is nobody is able to tell me at exactly what point it stops being accommodating and starts becoming toxic.

The reason these three relationships stand out as a pattern to me is because of how they ended. Every single one of them involved a violent and sudden betrayal by the other person. Certifiable abuse, lying, exploitation and in one case, physical violence.

The first relationship started when I was probably in the best place in my life till that time. I was 30, financially independent, had quit a successful corporate career and had ventured out into something I felt a lot of passion for. I was also single and not joint at the hip to any friendship the way a lot of women are, being that the one person that might have happened with had got married and moved to another continent. This one I’ve analysed over and over again and I conclude that I fell prey to a carefully planned trap by somebody whose only intention was to exploit me – specifically my gender to keep away social pressures. The plan worked well – charm, isolate, gaslight, control, violate and finally exploit. I guess it wasn’t really that sudden after all if the intent was always to go down this path.

I guess I was primed for another exploitative person who definitely saw me as a trophy. This one was interesting because it made it clearer how a toxic woman operates differently from a toxic man. First the mirroring that made me think we had a lot more in common than we actually did – ideologies and interests. Then the subtle(r) transition into controlling my actions – people and activities. Suddenly there was no one who remembered me from before I met this person, because they had all been distanced. And everyone who I was in constant contact with, had been introduced into my life by this person. They had been chosen for how quickly they’d turn on me with complete control by this person – or perhaps they were also being similarly ‘managed’. I never had a whiff of how I was being manipulated. I can’t believe how completely I was fooled. For instance, this person made astrology a daily part of our conversations, referring to people in conversations as ‘You know, that Taurus thing’ or ‘Typical Scorpio behaviour’ or ‘Piscean? Has to be terrible’. This person’s own sign is known for manipulation and lies and still I went along, semi-indulgently and perhaps because it felt comfortable and easy to do so. I feel like an idiot and a lazy one at that. It really only struck me when during this person’s exit, one of their attacks was “Everything has to be astrology for you. Get over that and take responsibility for your own life.” Libra sure knows how to gift-wrap deceit and spray perfume atop callousness.

My third mistake even warned me that they were going to hurt me. Mental illness is the latest buzzword the way gay rights was about a decade ago. Make no mistake, I believe there is a need for each of these causes to exist. I’m aware (as I was ten years ago) that misinformation and co-opting larger causes for personal agenda are par for the course. And it is still true that there will be people who use their existence in the cause to justify their terrible behaviour. A decade ago, someone stalked and harassed me (including suggesting that I’d change my mind about being straight if I spent a night with them) and when I said no, they put it out that I was a homophobe and lost me some friendships and work. Most recently, I’ve been called insensitive to mentally ill people, systematically harassed out of a space that I introduced the above person to and had strangers sicced on to me claiming that I’m saying terrible things about them. The reason this relationship makes it to this list is that this one also followed the adulation-mirroring-identification-control-attack model.

I’ve spent the first half of this year allowing myself to sit in the wreckage left behind by these people. I have been afraid to speak to anyone or even write because each of those brought on a fresh assaulter in the past ten years. But seeing them in a pattern gives me courage. Patterns have always felt like a safe space to me. This is going to sound odd but recently I’ve been involved in a discussion about how mathematics is perceived and communicated. It made me reflect on what about the subject appealed to me. And it is part of what let me tap into something that I’ve always been good at, something that has given me a profession and an emotional bedrock through things that would have killed me – patterns.

I don’t necessarily know how to break a pattern once I’ve spotted it. But maybe plugging the gaps where a toxic person like this finds a way to get in, is a start. I don’t trust adulation anymore, which probably explains why I’m not as interested in going on stage these days. The trouble is it’s difficult to separate adulation from simple admiration or even affection. It took me long enough to break the terrible pattern of love = insults (no thank you, years of gaslighting Hollywood and rape culture Bollywood). So…I don’t know. But that’s okay because it just means I still have work to do. Maybe accepting that is part of owning being 40.

It occurs to me that there is a cheesy kind of symmetry in there being three major mistakes in the third decade of my life. I also wonder what my life would have looked like without these people. I did a lot of things in this decade but all of these things are inextricably linked to these people – because they participated in these, because they pushed me to these or because I took these on to escape/heal from these people. I suppose there is a lesson there about how they happened for a reason but I don’t want to glorify the existence of toxicity. I am done doing that and I deserve to be happy and successful without having to deal with abuse, manipulation or violence to be so. I guess I’ll never know. Can someone invent time travel already? Maybe by 2029.

Image via Pixabay

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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.

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

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