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Sunday, August 17, 2014

On Age(ing)

3 months to my birthday. To growing older. Or at least commemorating growing older because if you think about it we grow a little older every day as opposed to just annually. It makes me nervous. Anxious. Even slightly panicky. I worry whether I am living enough. Doing enough. Working enough; enjoying enough. Though the precise definition of "enough" is of course elusive. I mean, who knows what's enough? What do people mean when they declare you "old enough" for various things? Like driving, drinking, living on your own, marriage, children? Why must life be lived with age as a determining factor of what you can/should do/be doing? 
As children, we all want to grow up fast and be part of that mysterious, almost glamorous world of "adults". Where we perceive we will be free to do as we wish; to make all our own decisions; to engage in all the alluring activities we are denied as children: staying up late watching t.v, earning and spending money, using time as we please. But do we ever get to that much coveted point of freedom? Perhaps a few fortunate and/or smart individuals do. The rest of us just end up entrapped in jobs and "responsibilities" and/or "duties". We keep postponing the things we really want for whatever reasons, valid or not.  We somehow fall into the trap of living life according to our age, doing the things others want us to or we believe are the "right" things to do. Who cares what's the right thing to do? Rightness is just a point of view, in my opinion. I don't want to do anything just because the world says it's the "right time" for me to do it. But there's no escaping this unending pressure of "timing". In fact, I think it's made me slightly paranoid. Just because I'm getting older, I keep comparing myself to people of my age and their respective achievements. I Wikipedia writers I admire for the sole reason of working out the age at which they become successful/published their first novel. If they were considerably "old" (read: post 30), I feel reassured; comforted that I have plenty of time to do the same. But if they became successful at my current age or younger, I panic. I flare up with negative energy which is mostly envy with a dash of anxiety thrown in, and feel temporarily convinced that I'm utterly useless or doomed to fail. What will you ever publish if you've STILL not completed your first book?! my conscience admonishes, fuming at the ears and red in the face from the stress of it all. 
Smart me promptly scrambles to find someone who achieved success at a later age and seeks refuge in reading all about them. See? I snap at my conscience. Not everyone is destined to be a young success! I have time and I'm doing the best I can. So calm down, for God's sake. 
That's usually the end of it until the next panic attack when the whole cycle repeats itself. A lot of authors out there owe me for the rising number of hits on their Wikipedia pages. :P
I don't know when I became so sensitive about age and growing older. I've always been a firm believer in destiny and all things turning out for the best. Waqt se pehle aur kismat se zyada kisi ko nahi milta is my favorite proverb. I heard it often while growing up and internalized it. But it's still hard not to feel anxious/paranoid about one's achievements in the competitive dynamic world we live in. There's so much to do and seemingly so little time. I want to be a successful writer. I want to write novels. But I also want to be an academic. And a traveler. I want to read so many books and see so many places. And earn so much money too. How on earth do I find a balance? How in God's name do I do it all? And heaven forbid, I should not get stuck in a state of limbo because I'm too overwhelmed by all the choices and having to decide what I want more/most. 
Growing older is confusing. The older I get, the more uncertain I am of what I want or what is worthwhile, or "right", as they say. I guess only "time" has all the answers and all I can do is hope that it speaks up soon enough! :P