All through my childhood, I waited to grow up. I can't explain how or why, but I knew exactly what the taste of adulthood freedom would be. I knew exactly. This conviction only deepened in my teenage years, when the claustrophobia of inhabiting my current life made me more breathless than ever. I held on to the certainty that growing up would solve it all.
And it did. Through my twenties, I knew I had to spend my time becoming somebody. Not a famous or rich person but a person of definite character and values. Not necessarily someone who looked or spoke or thought like others but someone who would leave others in no doubt of what she was like, how far she would or wouldn't go for love, money, friends, family or herself. I read books, had experiences and very gravely followed the procedure for becoming this person.
At thirty, I knew what kind of professional I wanted to be. I was a diligent worker, who understood the value of work-life balance. When conflicted, I always leaned towards fulfilling personal obligations and pursuing personal passions. I tried to make my work an extension of those passions. I enjoyed my job and used it to travel and learn new things. I always stopped to be grateful and tried to be a good person. I tried to manage my anger. I tried to stay hopeful in the face of deep loneliness. I told myself that no matter what, I knew how to love another person selflessly. That it was like swimming - once you learned it you never quite forgot how to do it. I built myself a solid personality with which I proceeded to live in the world.
Today, at thirty five, I have decided to change again. I have decided that money is important and that it isn't evil to want material happiness for oneself or one's family. My parents are growing older and I am becoming a responsible adult - someone who needs to think not just about shaping her self but shaping her future (with it the realization that the two are not the same). I have decided to swing my work-life balance in the other direction - maybe spend more time developing myself as a professional, even if it means coming home later each evening and spending a little less time with those I love. Maybe I want to make investments that will carry me into old age, that will make my parents feel a little less afraid of retiring.
I see my friends from the old days of school and college and I observe their lives closely. There are those that, like me, used their twenties to become someone. They worked so very hard and built themselves from ground up. It was so difficult, this journey, that they were relieved to reach their thirties & forties. There, they stopped. 'I know how to make money. I will always make money'. 'I know how to do art. I will always do art'.
But I feel, once again, like I did as a child. Like I can't wait to be free again. I've enjoyed being the somebody I was for the last fifteen years. Now I want to be a different kind of somebody - a somebody I once made fun of for being boring. I want to see what it would be like to live that kind of life. I want to see if I am set in stone because 'now I am too old yaar' or if I am an ever-changing human, who is capable of surprising herself.
It's the only way I know how to keep things interesting. It's the only way I can think of to enjoy being alive from here on out.