7 things I learnt at 30

So, a few days ago I celebrated by 30th birthday. The days leading up to it were uneventful, and honestly, aside from the usual pangs of excitement I usually feel on birthdays, I was feeling pretty regular. Nothing spectacular, no emotions to write home about.

But then the day struck. I woke up with a massive headache and a desire to stay in bed until midnight. I could not justify this feeling. All I knew was, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t excited and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I couldn’t figure it out. This day is usually the best day of my year, why was I feeling this way? And then someone said something that made it easier to comprehend. It was not the day, it was the age. 30. Sounds so serious. And adult. I had arrived here. And I wasn’t prepared for it. Sort of hits you in the face. You’re expecting a bang, some fireworks, but the day just proceeds like any other day.

So here you are frolicking around like you’re 20, and you’re already 30. And a lot of things begin to strike you. Things you had learnt along the way, but now must become a part of your being. I am not sure if this experience was unique to me, but I did learn 7 things I thought worth sharing. Cliche or not, they mean a lot.

Needless to say, once I had rationalized and as a friend (SM) said ‘accepted‘ the feeling, I moved past it and ended up having a birthday weekend that was amazing. Definitely something to write home about.

Now for the 7 things.

1. Family is everything.

Over the years, I have had a relationship with my family that has had its ups and downs, as most families do. But I always prided myself on being supremely independent and self-sufficient. But then you grow up. And you realize how special this relationship is. And I am not talking just nuclear family, I am talking the whole plethora of relatives, aunts, in-laws, the list goes on. The calls I got from them at midnight brought home a thought: they are there for me. And I got thinking. My mother’s unwavering ability to field all my questions and requests without any complaints. My sisters constant words of encouragement, no matter what venture I embark on. My in-laws who treat me like one of their own. My grandparents love and support. And I mean they must really love me considering the fact that when I visit I talk non-stop for 8-10 hours on end and am met with constant excited nods, lots of interest and consistent encouragement. Family is truly everything.

2. Marriage is a mix of work and play

Like any other girl, I thought when I got married, life would be this elaborate sing and dance musical production with us laughing and being merry. No one mentions the disagreements and the adjustments. Or the fact that all of a sudden you’re living with someone completely different from you and you’re going to have to adjust to them. Movies just show you the bit when the bride gets whisked away by the beaming groom in a vintage car. No one follows the story once they arrive back home. That’s when the real story begins. And its a unique one for each couple. But most have their fair share of ups and downs. The beauty is in holding back no matter how much you want to hurl that vase at him. And smiling through those tough days because you realize thats all it is, a tough day, and tomorrow everything will be fine again.

3. Friendships are stronger than you think

I have a bunch of friends from childhood. We have gone through a lot together; petty fights, ugly years, uncontrollable laughter, jokes that only we get and long periods of being out of touch. But I know, those days when I feel low, I can reach out and expect a response without any delay. They are as different from me as different gets. But they’re there. And as I begin this new phase in life, I realize being there is more special than anything else. I would be lying if I said that there weren’t days when I wished we all lived in the same city, where I wish we talked more, that they could share moments in my life on a daily basis. But you realize you must count your blessings if there are people that care enough to hear you tell you story, no matter how far they are. I realize that living far apart and talking infrequently is no judge of the strength of your friendship. Recently, my best friend from college called me and we were chatting and as we laughed about something completely inane, I realized that no matter how old you get, the joy you once felt, sitting in a small college apartment, watching a tiny TV and laughing about stupid jokes is one that can be recaptured anytime if you still have that person, who shared it with you, in your life.

4. But some friendships are meant to fade away and thats ok.

I imagined, the older I got and the most ‘settled’ in life i was, I would meet a variety of friends and we would grow old together. However, the truth is, the older we get the harder it becomes. Being a newlywed in a new city with a new job, I struggled to find my bearings and meet people from all walks of life. There were feelings of frustration and loneliness as I tried to find like-minded people who I wanted to become the sort of friend you call in the middle of the night because you are craving a cold latte. And people I met. Many. But I slowly began to realize that everyone is on a different journey. Just because I may be looking for something, does not mean someone else is looking for the same thing as that same exact time. So you let go of feeling frustrated and helpless and begin to appreciate the moments you share with new people. Because those moments will become good memories one day and you’ll think back and appreciate all those who, at some point, were a part of your life.

5. Your job does not define you

Working is precious to me. I love the feeling of being a part of something larger than myself and coming home from a long days work, exhausted, but knowing I have given it my all. However, my 20s were spent getting exhausted at work because I was over-committing, dealing with late nights of work stress, office politics that were petty yet consumed way too much thinking time and seeing your work being appreciated but more often ripped to bits by clients. And this dejection usually ended up with me chastising myself for something or the other. I took on the blame for failed work as if it was something personal. And I defined myself based on my job. Which is wrong. Your job is something you do. It will have its ups and downs but it doesn’t define you. This proposition is something I still struggle with, but as I leave my 20s behind, I hope that this is a rule I can implement in life.

6. Some people are just rude

I have met a variety of people in my life, from all nationalities, races, color, etc. And I never cease to be amazed by how rude some people are. And it bothers me. A lot. To a point where I question how someone can be that way. But there is no point. None at all. Because some people are just rude. And its not you. Its them. And shame on them for not respecting you because knowing you would have been quite an experience.

7. Nothing gives a better high than working out

I have dabbled in a lot of fitness regimes in my life. And 2 years ago, I transformed my body by working out for 1.5 year, daily at the gym. Then I completely stopped. Eating less but not working out. I was more interested in hanging out with my new husband than hitting the gym. Then, 5 months ago, I went back. But not to the gym. I decided to explore different avenues of working out, like yoga and tennis, even running outside. It’s been an uphill battle, and a battle against myself because after 2 years of a lazy lifestyle, its very difficult to go back. But the high i get from working out and knowing I’m doing something for myself is amazing. Like my maternal uncle, Mamoo, says: ‘In life, working out is the one thing I have absolute control over. Thats why I love doing it.’ The words stuck with me.

So the list could go on but I felt it best to limit the things I would like to remember when I look back on this year. I have a long way to go but I have learnt one step at a time is the ideal way to do it.

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