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I have exactly a 100 bucks and some loose change in my wallet. I have the tags of 'Doctor' & 'Author' but I’m in-between jobs, living with my parents, and have a failed passion project in my bag.
I’m yet to find that one dream job and put all my fight into. I’m not married. Neither in a serious relationship nor do I have a ring on my finger.
And so I have the entire family, known and unknown ‘well wishers’ selling marriage and kids to me. But then I think I might be overbuying if I used my last hundred bucks on it so I’m holding the door shut on them all and a lot these last few days that lead up to my 30th birthday. I needed some courage to say it out loud to myself first before I said it to someone else!
I’m thirty, and I’m broke! A statement unfortunately not exclusive of my financial situation.
That happened to be the one word I tried so hard all my twenties to keep apart from my thirties, and I have spectacularly messed it up. I’ve checked not one box of the checklist that was handed to me. Am I tired and exhausted? Yes, I’m. Am I insufficient, unworthy for it? Absolutely not.
The late bloomers, people who see life happening, find their passion, their footing and career after their thirties are oftentimes expected to have excuses that the majority agrees to be ‘valid’ for their delay.
Indian women in particular have family and kids to thank for the slow drag. But my case is not so. It’s neither here nor there. And I feel vulnerable and borderline ashamed… most days. I don’t want to. It’s something I can’t fight out of though. I try not to buy into that conditioning. Also, that is why it is important I write this I believe.
‘What did you do?’
‘Why is the hold up?’
‘What have you done?’
Are all very reasonable questions. And I have nothing but a single response.
I made mistakes all through my twenties. Crucial, important, life lesson worthy mistakes.
Getting into and out of emotionally violating relationships, letting go of well-paying jobs, taking decisions with everything in mind rather than just myself, not having set rigid boundaries, trusting bad people, not saving enough, not investing enough, not networking enough, not building enough, not growing enough, not unlearning quick, and most importantly, I did not take the trash out faster.
We have all been into that time capsule room. The pyjamas and messy bun stay the same for days on end. Dried coffee cups, peeled back bleeding wounds, dirty nails, spoiled milk cartons, cheap budget delivered food packets, regrets, and what-ifs littered around every available space. And we choose to rot with them all. It takes a minute to stand up, stretch, undo that bun and set it straight. Another to bend down and pick the first piece of junk off the floor. But it takes a lot for one to get to that minute decision of standing up. Yes, the age-old phrase is so true. Our timelines are indeed different, contexts aside and multiple.
A part of me knows it is okay. But its voice is so dumbed down by the ‘under 30’ list of achievers in various flashy pages. While it is necessary we uphold the ones who might be showing others the way and much-needed inspiration, I think it is imperative we pep talk the girl who is still not there to the minute of standing up and moving out of her pyjamas.
We all are set on a door.
It takes some longer to find the one they would like to try. To equip themselves, to prepare, to be sure, be assertive, get ambitious. It takes time, resources, support and at times a familiar face to lend a hand, pull one in.
It takes even longer for some to manoeuvre the door open against all the odds this society stacks. It is even worse when you are alienated and forced to feel like an alien, unworthy of the space you occupy outside those rooms. It’s new for this majority cishet non-inclusive spaces to accept people for who they are. The system is so set on where one comes from rather than what they have to offer at the table. I kid you not, the struggle in no way ceases with your leg inside that door.
It is essential all these fights are recognized, in the least by self. It is a pity and shame that the first thought to loom over you when you hit a dead-end is that you’ve failed somehow. All the quotes that say the journey is more important than the destination have not hit home yet for so many women. We are given a deadline of twenty-five after all. Or, menarche in worst-case scenarios. We are expected and forced to figure it all out, finish growing up by then. To say it is unfair doesn’t really cut the actual cruelty of it.
With me penning this down, I’m saying this to you all as much as I’m saying this to myself. You and I can cut ourselves some slack, acknowledge the setbacks, recuperate, stand up, and try again. Thirty is not the end of the road. Nor is any number for that matter.
Keep preparing, better yourself to go at that door again. As opposed to whatever was said, set as rule thus far, you prying the closed doors open and being inside those spaces is very important. First, though you might be, never mind.
Perhaps one day when you see another, go at the locks with all your might and struggle still, you might open it for her and let her in. You can do something which was not done for you. Be the change you so desperately wished for and in the process, you’d have done your sisterhood a solid.
And for that, timelines, bruises, tears and everything discouraging you aside, persevere!
Do not give up on yourself, and on your dreams just because it is taking you longer. You might be a lot closer to your mark than you might realize. We are the worst cheerleaders and best critics when it comes to our own lives. Remember that.
So thirty and broke? Be it. Smile back to all the raised eyebrows and scorns, and to your mirror too.
Because you know what’s next? Up top, babe!
And oh, birthday cake. Of course.
Image Source: Pexels/ Darina Belenogova
Author : Au Revoir (A memoir from behind the white collar) - published 2020
Doctor I Guest blogger I Book reviewer I Freelance content writer I Avid reader I Intersectional Feminist I Left - Liberal I LGBTQA+ ally read more...
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