Since my friends and I have crossed our 30s, it’s like our eyes have opened and we are seeing the world a little more clearly. It’s like for the first 20 years, we were sponges and now, we’re going through all that we have accumulated only to find very little of it is useful.
It reminded me of an interview of Emma Watson’s where she said something profoundly amazing. She said that as soon as she turned 30, she felt this deep well of anxiety, the source of which she couldn’t find in the beginning. Until she found there was subliminal messaging she was constantly receiving – right from social media targeted ads to parents to peers – saying that if you had not achieved a certain goal or not reached a certain paycheck, you were a failure.
But understanding that you need not conform to social morays, or allowing yourself to choose which ones you’d like to conform to is not the same as living. Not when every step you take, you are asked to justify your life choices. Ja Simran ja, jee le apni zindagi, may be the biggest lie that we tell ourselves! Because of course you can live the life the way you want…but not unless you also tick these checkboxes too.
It has been my constant endeavour to bring myself, mentally, emotionally, physically, to a place where I’m okay with only following those expectations of the zeitgeist that I’m comfortable with. In this endeavour, what has helped me is:
- Keeping myself informed with what is happening in the world, and my country. But more importantly, allowing myself the time and space to form an opinion that is mine. Reading news articles in this regard can be shattering to my mental health so when that gets too much, I read books – and I have been working on diversifying my reading material.
- Discussing things with a group of friends who will not cancel me for being confused, or for not knowing the importance of an issue beforehand. Whenever they talk, I become a squirrel, gathering nuggets of information to come back to on a later date.
- Remembering that it’s okay to change my mind as many times as I need to. That the only way I can learn is to be open to learning and listening and to not hold onto my opinions because new information can lead to new opinions.
- It’s okay if this is a solo journey or if I lose people along the wayside. My duty is to me first. I can create my own space.
- Not begrudging the anger that comes. Sometimes you need to get angry before you can find a solution that works for you. The anger also helps me to demand that I be treated with respect.
It’s hard because you have to constantly remind yourself that it’s okay to carve your own path. Slipping is effortless and staying on the path, difficult. But hey, there is a reason that advertisements are made a certain way and why we’re bombarded with them constantly. If marketers know just putting out one advert will not lead to sales, then surely, we can work towards staying on the path? At the end of the day, it’s all about training your brain.
PS: If you like how I write and would like to read more, I have 2 ebooks on Kindle – both free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited. You can read more about the ebooks here.