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31 things that the author would want to share with everyone as she turns 31 – a whole bunch of interesting and empowering ideas to talk about.
‘For the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years, your habits make you.’ – Hindu saying quoted by Steve Jobs on his 30th birthday.
As I turn 31 this month, I can’t agree more with this quote. Indeed our habits shape our personality. Now that the 20’s syndrome is over, what better opportunity can I get but to reflect and pass on my life lessons acquired over a period of three decades.
Here goes my humble list in a random order:
Never underestimate the power of a pen and your thoughts. Write not to impress others, or to gain admission in a university programme, or to impress your better half and loved ones, but for yourself. As a reflection of your soul, and as a therapy to freeze the essence of your thoughts.
So whether you write diaries or begin you day with gratitude journal, you never know with time when your written thoughts can mean a whole world to you or to a stranger.
People will discredit you for things that they don’t understand and that is absolutely fine. Parents might support you by asking you to do what you love, but the moment you say that you want to grow up to become a DJ player they might get worried.
Society generally accepts legitimate choices, but if you are one of those who harbour ‘illegitimate’ or unconventional choices, have the heart to nurture that dream and follow it. This brings us to my third learning.
Self doubt is an essential part of following one’s heart. It is perfectly fine to wake up with ‘what if ‘ questions in your mind, but I learnt that the leftover fear of ‘what if’ should always be bigger than the beast of failure. You can only try a new thing when you trust your guts completely.
Well I don’t want to sound like Paul Coelho, but yes there was a point in my life where committing suicide, running away from home and viewing the world with pessimism seemed a far better option, as compared to now, where I think of new avenues and dreams to follow for my lifetime. This change would not have happened if this cosmos would not have absorbed my worries.
So stop worrying about future. It will be taken care of, if you make your present beautiful.
The first word that was uttered by the angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was “Iqra” which literally means to read. Nothing better could have been emphasized in Anton Chekov’s short story ‘The Bet’.
For me it served not only as an escape route into my fantasy world, but also consolidated my thoughts. I guess our personality is a reflection of what we read.
The new one would be ‘You eat what you do because of who you are.‘ Not only your looks but even your personality is reflected by your food habits. A chocoholic like me does not mean I am a very sweet person, but it shows my volatile emotions when it comes to emotional eating rather than practicing conscientiousness.
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.” Moral of the story ‘Shape up or shape out’ not only to stay healthy but also to feel accomplished in this race of life.
I was one of those who wanted to experience marital bliss by say my late twenties, but life had other plans for me. When my relationship of seven years fell flat on my face, this is what I figured out after introspecting a lot: which is not to fret for love. You already know how to love, so love will find you. Just be patient and marry yourself first before seeking external validation.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So surround yourself with people who elevate and inspire you not the one who have settled and stopped improving.
When it comes to partner, don’t overlook the nerd or someone who is an avid reader. Romantic dating is thrilling but when it comes to parenting, a nerdy partner can be more stable and a better parent. Regarding habits people who become successful in their thirties are the ones who inculcated good habits or made good choices in their twenties. So at one point of time you might have to sacrifice your back to back movie sessions, late night thirsty weekends with friends etc to make space for your dreams.
How do we choose the best partner or friends? Well one thing I understood after overcoming a toxic relationship, which is you receive what you deserve. I cannot expect the most inspiring people to surround me until and unless I break the shell of complacency and push myself everyday out of my comfort zone. I need to eliminate my unhealthy choices, better myself everyday and with time a better version of me will definitely attract the best of people. It would be no less than dogma if I wish for a Leonardo da Vinci type partner without working hard to achieve discipline or match up to the skills of the great legend.
We are all born as artists but the problem lies with the fact that as we grow up we somehow forget to nurture the child in us. We accept life the way we are told to follow since childhood without questioning them and that’s when we start decaying slowly. Life moves on but then complacency won’t leave any footprint on the sand of human civilization.
It is never too late to renew one’s skills or learn a new one. Also there is no age limit to keep honing them. It is a lifetime process and when you can Google out every tool you want to know then it is worth the shot. So keep learning and don’t let your failures in formal education robe you off your curiosity.
Again I learnt this the hard way when I saw red flags during my relationship. It is just that I did not give my intuition my due share of respect at that point. Intuitions are a gift and why was I so imbecile to overlook them can be answered in my next learning.
I have already mentioned this in point number 8 but I wanted to elaborate a bit more. The reason why I entered in a toxic relationship or ignored all the intuitions was not because I was emotional or hoped things will fall into place and everything will be fine, but because I did not heal myself from the childhood trauma or remorse that was pent up inside me due to emotional neglect that I felt from my family when I was growing up. I was looking for external validation, to be loved and that was my biggest mistake because it not only made me vulnerable but also selfish to seek love instead of choosing the path of self respect and love.
There is one thing I learnt while fasting and that is not to gobble up food after a long day of hunger. Similarly just because you are hungry for affection does not mean that you grab whatever is offered to you. Finding balance is the first step to self healing and realization. It takes enormous patience and practice to heal oneself but it is definitely worth the effort to spare oneself from heartbreaks from people who are definitely not worth your time and energy.
Not because of anti- ageing creams are flooded in the market or 60s is the new 40s quote that people quote so often, but because as you age we experience new learning and introspect life with a new lens. If someone can become the President of a developed nation at 70 in contrast to the dynamic and the current youngest French President, then I guess I still have a good opportunity to add some more feathers to my life.
Can’t stress on this more, thanks to students that I see now days slouch in their chairs. Well apart from the health benefits, it also portrays a more confident body language and makes you look slimmer and younger.
You can only learn more when you take up new projects and challenge yourself. This definitely does not mean working extra long hours on unproductive things just to impress your boss.
I sounded like a true corporate geek, but guess what we are staying in a world where you have to speak up to make yourself visible. Classroom introductions are now a passé and shy people are just left out until and unless they learn to make themselves known in a world populated by extroverts.
Networking is nothing but a life time investment and networking does not mean increasing the number of friends on your social media list. When you are in your twenties most of the people in that age group are struggling as they are broke. Some fake up and hide that aspect and leave everything on destiny and others are very passionate about their life and ideas. I learnt and still learn a lot from these passionate people and now even they are also in their early thirties but successful and happy.
I had to include this learning because I rarely see students valuing money and have negligible financial literacy. This is something people have to figure out on their own as schools and even parents now days hardly teach them. In my initial struggling days I purposefully used to wake up late to save money for breakfast and now before turning thirty I aspire to pursue my higher studies by financing myself.
This journey was not an easy one but all that we hear about delayed gratification or Warren Buffet’s statement about saving half of your salary or more before spending was not wrong. Unfortunately we live in a society where people sell the concept of live in the moment and worship ostentatious lifestyle only to tag you as a miser if you don’t follow their footsteps. Just learn to smile and meander your way as you don’t have to justify your life.
Like all forms of discipline this is also a habit forming exercise which requires a proper structure and does not come overnight. Consistency is the key and with time you learn to control your urge of spending money frivolously on things that gives you short term pleasure.
People always ask me why I left my government job. Many people also ask me whether I miss working in Dubai or not. Honestly I find their questions quite amusing. Yes there are many experiences that I cherish about my past even when I was working abroad but at the end the flowers of Dubai seemed very beautiful and glamorous but had no roots. An identity or soul is what I believe in seeking. We might not conjure conspicuous memories of our birthday parties or presents that we received but I am pretty sure we fondly remember those memories which stirred our soul irrespective of which special day it was.
Nothing can be done about it. So learn the best lessons and move on.
No matter how much you acquire knowledge it will fall short. It is always good to treat yourself as a beginner. There are many aspects of our life that we don’t have control over, for example the family that we hail from or the school that we studied at, because our parents paid our fees. I really don’t understand this false pride that students exhibit when they are part of an institution where admission is not on the basis of merit but by our parents’ bank balance. What I received after school is what makes me feel accomplished because getting into my college or my career choice and hobbies that I pursued where my hard work and I earned the merit to enjoy them.
Very common lesson but the most misused resource. Everyone will try to snatch it from you. Whether it is your office superior who expects you to work during ungodly hours, family members or life partner who will expect you to spend more time with them and call them often and friends who will expect more time from you to hangout. So with your limited resource, you should be spending it wisely and if required be a bit selfish about it to prevent yourself from exhausting your finite resource.
Everyone has a story. Some happen to be the real Gladiators who have beaten the game of life and some are still playing the game. Choose whose story you want to remember and implement the learning in your life and whose you want to filter out.
Emotions sustain us. Never bottle them up only to sabotage them. This will only be toxic for people who matter to you as they will be targeted as your punching bags. Hence honour your negative emotions to heal yourself and honour them with your closest confidant or on your own because this world might try to find a profitable opportunity from your vulnerable situation.
At some point of life we have committed mistakes or hurt others. Being too honest or blunt can be cruel and I learnt it after a lot of self – introspection and perspective analysis. True redemption is when guilt is followed by good and how can you embrace a new beginning until and unless you forgive your troubled soul first. That’s the starting point on the journey of forgiving others.
People believe in destiny. I believe we create our destiny. The only thing holding you back is YOU. You control your reality. So connect to yourself rather than ignoring yourself to create a better you.
Well this one is my favourite even though I am a teacher. It is good to break rules. Now I am not referring to traffic rules or university rules but stereotypes that plague our modern times. It is always good to challenge preconceived notions and set new standards. Crazy people are meant to change the world.
Have loads of fun. Develop a sense of humour and sometimes make fun of yourself. You are still the child who has not grown up and you have the whole life to become an adult. Your teenage as well as twenties is meant to be enjoyed as you are full of energy and in the spring phase of your life. So enjoy without any guilt.
To conclude with my favourite movie dialogue: ‘Babumoshai…..zindagi lambi nahi badi honi chahiye!’ (Sir…..Life need not be long it should be big)!
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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