It’s about time I manned up and gave making baguettes a shot.
Maybe its about time I quit this time-sucking assignment and focus on work I really want to devote my time to.
I must learn to fix niggling web issues myself. It’s about time!
Got to look up my savings, about time I assessed where I stand, for myself.
“It’s about time” has unconsciously become a refrain in my life of late. I wonder if it is my subconscious reminding me to grow up a little bit. I am 30 today, after all. Some would say its about time.
When I visited Bangalore early in April, I got a big kick out of watching movies with my folks, lying in bed between them. Until one day I had a giggle fit, and exclaimed to my parents, “Jeez, I’m going to be 30 next month. Isn’t it about time I stopped sleeping in your bed?!”
My father grinned, but my mother nonchalantly informed me that no matter how old I get, they will always be 20+ years older.
10 years ago, I had a head full of plans and I honestly thought I had it all figured out. Whatever happened, I was going to face it with a lot of hard work and determination. Naively, thought there was nothing that I couldn’t fight with that combination on my side. And I applied the same approach to everything in life — college exams, job applications, my love life, constant clashes with my parents. Yep, that pretty much summed up my life 10 years ago.
I was a restless, edgy, antsy 20-something and just wanted to break out of home, go out into the world, where I assumed things would be easier. Where they would be free-er. All I wanted was a high-flying job for a year. The plan was to then go back to study, to business school. Get an MBA, get into the Talent Seeking/Management business an climb the corporate ladder, while piles of money flowed in. Yeah I didn’t stop to ask anyone how feasible this plan was. I had it all sorted. It was a straight line and there was nothing I couldn’t fight without that hard work and determination backing me. I had few friends, but a full and pretty active social life. I didn’t spend too much time at home, stretching work and socialising way beyond accepted limits. I had tasted sweet freedom of financial independence, without realising I still had the safety net of going back to a home where my parents watched over me. It was a partial kind of convenient independence, but I lived under the notion of being free.
I thought I had found the one big, unshakeable love, but I didn’t want to settle. In a distant future in my mind, I had named my babies, the ones I assumed I’d have with the boy I thought I was going to end up with. And yet, I didn’t want to be married or worse, that disgusting word – domesticated. I think my hypothetical future involved living-in and procreating without waiting for anyone’s permission to do so. Ten years ago I had it all sorted. Ten years I had plans. My plans.
But plans are overrated. And life does that thing it always does. Messes with all plans, shows you who’s boss. And like a predictable movie gone wrong, the itch to study faded away slowly. The heady high of earning money had me fairly intoxicated and I wanted more. The big love shattered, the babies turned into a distant dream. Nothing was as I had hoped it would be, and yet I was alive and kicking through it all. Five years down, I was married and been through a string of jobs in advertising. I had realised in time that an MBA would have been disastrous for me and working HR even more so. I had tasted the joy of writing and I wasn’t prepared to let it go. And so began a steady stream of jobs that were wrong for me, along the way to find that elusive job that would hopefully be good for me.
Once a cut-throat Bangalorean, a city girl — someone who couldn’t do without the perks, I found myself in small town Goa, etching a life out for myself. Little did I know then that the quiet that once frightened me would become my best friend in no time at all.I discovered the kitchen and amidst the clatter of pots and pans and crackling tadka, I fell head-long in love with food. Only to go right ahead and get completely obsessed with it.
When I think back in time, it is the last decade that throbs back to life without much effort. It’s almost like the two that passed before it, never happened. The last decade probably did more to shape my personality than I imagined. It chiseled the poky corners, smoothed the edges of my restless, antsy being. It’s taken much of the unpleasant edge off, and made way for a quiet confidence that doesn’t need permission. A confidence that creeps up on me silently, that doesn’t wait to be told when to act. That doesn’t need an excuse to burst to life.
A decade ago, I was so far from knowing who I am as a person, and what truly makes me happy. I was busy looking for it in relationships that tied me down and twisted me into being a person I was not. Professionally, I was hoping to find joy in places it didn’t exist. And in my head, I had a dream that could not have been more inappropriate and wrongly suited to who I am.
10 years ago, while I was actively rejecting and rebelling against most things my parents taught me, against everything that probably came organically to me, in fits and starts but I was too cool to give a chance, I didn’t foresee things would change so drastically one day. The last decade has shown me that.
Because that antsy, unsure, restless 20 something girl that I was, eventually went ahead to do all the things I never planned to do. I got married. I gave into a love that was liberating. I discovered a life of domesticity that ironically, freed me from myself. Emotionally, as well as from the tightly bound goals I imagined for my life. It’s shown me that the things I most loathed, looked down upon and scorned would eventually come back to be the biggest and best sources of joy.
The outgoing, filling-life-with-people-and-stuff person that I was turned calm and quiet, embraced the forced solitude of small-town life with grace and created a life she never imagined possible, in it. I didn’t know it then, but the solitude that I feared soon became my biggest strength and security.
That the carefully cultivated fear of most things new, of the unknown and unfamiliar, of opinions and judgement would be the very same thing that would push me to try things I’d never imagine myself to do. Heck I found a life in the kitchen and turned it into my raison d’etre. It doesn’t get more turn-around-y than that.
In the quest for an undomesticated, unsettled, rebel’s life I realised there were far too many cakes to bake before I let life really make me settle the way I imagined it would.
It has been a decade of living, loving and learning and I can’t wait for what the new year holds. So I quietly trudge along, while all the time keeping a close look on myself, and the happiness and satisfaction of those I love. It has been a decade of growing into a daughter, parent, friend, wife, confidante, support system and client all rolled into one — and playing each of those roles better than before. A time of living every emotion — loving like I never have, tasting freedom, owning joy, facing dissatisfaction — completely, feeling it like I never have.
Sometime last week MM emailed me this piece by Elizabeth Gilbert and it really hit home. Because everything she describes her parents to be, is true for my parents too. And everything she describes in the piece, is everything I have rejected, tagged uncool and unacceptable at 20, and is everything that I have come to now regard, love and respect. Not just that, it is everything I have slowly imbibed and accepted as my own, in the life I have carved for myself today.
As I read the words, my heart grew heavy and ached to hug my mother and my father. Because it described with unbelievable accuracy, everything that my parents have brought us up to believe in. In essence, I could have written that about my parents. It is is all i grew up listening to, watching, breathing and imbibing.
Theirs was no hippie way of life, but definitely one in which they played by their own rules, evaluated decisions based on worked best for them, what made them happy and gave them satisfaction. And even to this day, they continue to live this way. While I may have unconsciously taken the same path, it is only in recent time that I have become aware of what it means to consciously live this way. It means forcing yourself to evaluate everything you do and sometimes take decisions that aren’t popular, acceptable, convenient or easy. It can leave you lonely physically and emotionally, but builds a deep-rooted courage and sense of being self-assured. But most of all it sets the strong foundation of living free of fear — of societal acceptance, of new ground, of unfamiliar territory. Ultimately it has taught me to live my life the way I deem fit.
Perhaps this is why I feel like it is about time, all the time. For the last few years I have been blurring the lines of the boundaries I want to draw. I have been treading the line, stepping in and out, toggling between the roles I want to play, and those that are expected of me. But eventually, I realise that it is time to stop trying. And to start doing. To stop asking for permission. Waiting for validation. Seeking approval. Playing by the rules. Staying within the lines and doing things to plan.
There’s something about distance, physical as well as the distance of time, of ten long years, that can put a mellow spin on things. Because over the last few years, I have slowly realised that it takes a long time, but things eventually come full circle, and before you know it, you realise you may very well be turning into the kind of person your parents always wanted you to be. The kind of person you swore you would never be.
Is that what growing up is like?