Young and Free...maybe.

To every 26 year old who is remotely like me

Stories inspire me. And if you’re anything like me, your daily cup of coffee is also your getaway to a world of stories that are either inspired or a product of your imagination. I believe we are all living our stories, and mine’s on its 26th chapter.

Everyday, I feel the need to share some of the experiences/learnings of my 26-year old self. It could be the love that I have for myself, or the unverified fact that my short life has given me learnings of a lifetime. So i’m shaping into words my great learnings and how a 26 year old could use these to keep the mid-life crisis at bay.

Work Matters : When they were designing the cycle of life, they put a very large part into this aspect called ‘earning’. People who are still struggling with what they want to do in life scare me. At 26, you ought to be, you must be sorted with what you want to do. Your dream job may be working as a wine-taster, or even better, becoming a pizza-roaster, but you need to have a serious career. What’s more important – try to work with your passion. Understand, put time, take advice, search over and over until you find what you’re really looking for. It’s never too late to start doing what you actually love doing since what you wouldn’t achieve with time, you certainly would with self-satisfaction. Also, do not restrict yourself to job titles. Do not ever restrict yourself when it comes to work. Come on time, leave on time. Learn as much as possible, it will always be of help. That said, always put your dignity first, no job will be as important as your self-respect, ever.

Experiencing beyond breathing : As Indians, we’re illogically over protected. We don’t want to cross the lines drawn in the influence of ‘Log kya khenge’ syndrome. We’re better at breathing than at experiencing. Plus, you need to have a collection of memoirs of life to share with your kids. Wouldn’t it be cool to tell your kids, “when I was 25, I spent all that I had and solo-tripped across Europe”. While in college, I freelanced across industries to understand my interest areas. 26 is a good age to break them barriers. Go beyond your imagination – learn, laugh, live to your heart’s content. And come back a changed person.

Staying Alive : As a 26 year old, this is most important. The urban lifestyle is killing us with every slice of that cheese-burst pizza. At times, I feel lucky to have access to fresh, (hopefully) organic food, as compared to the genetically modified supplements of the west. Your body will talk to you if you listen. I have had my own share of spicy pav-bhajis and greasy chola-bhaturas, but I can say this – one day, you’ll be sorry. It’s harsh but it’s the truth. So, my advice, listen to your body, and not your heart, when it comes to food. Add a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and eat dinner before 8. Thank me later.

Love is not a game : It really is not. Modern dating makes me want to punch myself in the throat. Swap left, swap right. Really? I may be old-school, but love should be as heart warming as an old book. I wouldn’t say that 26 is when you should’ve found real love, but it surely is the age to start looking. My experience says that a good partner helps you become a better person, every single day. The smiles that we lose in the stress and monotony of life, that one person will make up for it. Plus who likes to life their life without a pinch of drama?

Learn to live alone : Our lives are supported by so many instruments – living and non-living. Just as that hardworking gardener works on keeping your grass green, your refrigerator keeps your coffee cold. If you’re as privileged as me, your food gets cooked, your bed gets made, your cars get cleaned, your floors are wiped, your dinner is served with little or no interventions. You have really nice neighbours to help you out when you lose your keys or good friends who get drunk with you when your heart gets broken. But, I believe, it is extremely important for every 26 year old to learn how to live alone. With personal experience, I can say that an encounter with yourself in the alone is incredibly interesting. Try going to a cafe and sitting by yourself. It would be awkward at first but it will really help you in getting in touch with yourself, along with a reality check on your confidence. Knowing how to do things is an asset that every young person should equip him/herself with. Learn to cook, clean, wash and be independent – you don’t have to like it. Plus, that easy peasy recipe of spaghetti Arrabbiata could really come in handy when you are trying to impress that special one.

Find a goto thing : It could be anything but cigarettes and alcohol. I believe that once a person finds out his/her passion spot, they become wiser, they make better decisions for themselves. The trick is to do a lot of things and then discovering what really makes you happy. For me it is food, or travelling, or travelling with food. Good food is my ultimate source of joy, and so is experiencing a new place. For you, it could be music or books or coins or sleeping – anything that gives you complete happiness, rejuvenates your soul – makes you feel more alive and kicking than ever.

Learn to smile, and forgive : Forgiveness is a powerful virtue. Smiling is the best weapon. You feel as unworthy as a tiny speck of sand after your boss gives you an earful, come out the door smiling like you’ve conquered the world. It would be hard, but equally worthwhile when your colleagues would assume/tell you “maybe he’s got a promotion” or “what a lucky ass!”. Same goes with forgiveness. It is something you, and only you possess. Try it sometime, will leave you feeling lighter and nicer. Plus good karma.

Mostly, don’t let anyone ever tell you how you should be. I know, it is ironical, given this article. What I mean is – listen, understand but do what YOU want. One life, right?

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