You hit the 20 mark — you know the beginning of the dark ages when you start saying no to ‘come on dude, one more shot’ and guzzle down a litre of water instead in a last ditch attempt to appear less corpse-like at work the next morning — and overnight, it feels like things that were floating around in your peripheral vision, rise up like pernicious ghosts to smack you in the face. Apart from the usual philosophical quandaries like ‘Who am I? What have I been put on this planet for and where do I go from here?’, there are the less intellectually stimulating but equally bothersome questions like ‘Am I in the right job?’ ‘Everyone is travelling including that dumbass who thought Spain was in Africa. Should I go too?’ ‘She’s fatter than me and she has a boyfriend! What’s wrong with me?’
They say growing up after adolescence is just coasting away on cruise control, but what is the misery of a few zits compared to the angst of trying to figure out where your life is going? The social network has kept us all wired in, but in a sense this has made it so much more difficult for our generation to make decisions. We are ultra-competitive and hyper-judgemental. Your friend getting a job at that big international firm? Stab to the brain. Your friend getting engaged to the love of her life? Stab to the heart. Your friend on a world trip? Stab to every dream you ever had. We punish ourselves in a myriad of ways. Overcome by the deluge of information about other peoples’ lives, we try to win a race we never even meant to be in. And in that, we lose the pursuit of happiness on the transit to the pursuit of ‘Everything-Everyone-Else-Has’.
You always dreamed of writing your own book. Instead you’re working at an IT giant crunching numbers and hoarding away money to your growing bank balance, because you’re going to be that person who makes his/her first million and buys that fancy car. You’re going to travel to Switzerland, although you can’t stand the cold because that’s where everyone goes. You don’t have a viable idea nor do you have any skills to back it up and yet, you want to start a startup because thats where the big bucks are. It is so easy to fall into this trap, and I find myself going there ever so often.
As hard as it can be, take the time to learn about yourself; spend time looking inwards and not outwards. I’m your average over-thinker, and in all honesty, I should spend less time thinking and more time doing. I bug people all the time. ‘What do you want to do in life, tell me?!’ and I’m usually shut down with a ‘I donno man, chill na’. That’s where the trouble starts because it is so very important to know your own goals, another reason why being 20 something sucks. Assuming a life expectancy of 75, you’ve only lived about 25% of your life. So you’re supposed to make a decision about the remaining 75% with this little experience? That’s like writing a test having studied a quarter of the syllabus. It scares the shit out of me. But that’s how it works.
So think about what makes you happy and fulfilled. Those all-important milestones you want to hit. Write them down. Tattoo them on your forehead. Every time you find yourself doing something, be it a trip abroad or a major career change, ask yourself ‘Is this going to help me reach my goal?’ and then go ahead with it. For instance, if your aim is to work for a major Indian firm and settle down here then going to a business school in Europe for the glamour of it is a poor decision. Looking at pictures thinking, ‘Ah this guy is partying with firangs so even I’m going to go’ is probably a bad idea. On the other hand, if your main goal is to travel and to meet new people (with job considerations low on your list of priorities) then go to business school in Timbuktu if it pleases you.
The point of the rant is this. I’d like to remind myself and everyone who needs a reminder that we only get one shot at doing this, and we need to try to get it right. The ‘peer-pressure’ we experienced as teens to dress a certain way was a joke compared to what we have to deal with now. Our parents bore the brunt of our younger teen-y scream-y versions, but now we have no else to push the blame on. Regardless, no amount of gloominess can cloud the fact that these are by far the most exciting times of our lives and there is no where else I’d rather be.
EDIT: If you liked this, then you might possibly like this as well. Happy reading.