“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
― Gabriel García Márquez
As every year, a month prior to April 3 (which happens to be the day I graced this planet in 1981) – I go through a series of emotions and ups and downs. And every year, I try to be positive about my birthday – and so far I’ve succeeded. This year, however, is a completely different story.
I woke up this morning realizing that my birthday is about a month away and instead of the whole ‘I really need to figure out what I want to do..’ I felt pretty crappy. I should be feeling thrilled – considering a whole lot of new opportunities have come knocking on my door lately. It still doesn’t take away from the fact that I feel a little worse for wear – I’m getting older. I’m now fully in my 30’s – which begs to ask the question – in a society that thrives on marriage and settling down – what have I got to show for it?
Most of my peers from school, who I’ve firmly disassociated with, settled down in their early/mid twenties and have since had children, who are growing up. On the other hand, there are a few loose cannons like myself who have done the complete opposite. I remember when I returned from my studies in Australia, my parents got onto the marriage bandwagon. I asked them to hold off till I turned 24. Which they agreed to. When I hit 24, it started “It’s time for you to settle down.” I cringed. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t see myself doing the whole marriage spiel, never mind the fact that I wasn’t even seeing anyone. But in our society, it is okay to have the so called ‘arranged marriage’ which is the path I saw would work best (or so I thought). After meeting a few suitors (for lack of a better word) I found the idea somewhat silly. I didn’t want my parents or anyone to ‘set me up’. Being from the school of movie like endings where you end up finding ‘the One’ I took it upon myself to find the one for me. Oh did I fail miserably! I would look at some of my friends who were in good, solid and steady relationships I thought to myself, ‘WHY isn’t this happening for me? I want THAT.’
Finally, I believed that it was happening for me. I met a boy, who treated me like a princess, and made me feel like I belonged in this relationship – equal partners. We took decisions together, we worked towards building a future. I should have seen the warning signs when, within the first three months of our relationship, he brought out the M-word. Too soon. TOO soon. I guess I really didn’t think it would happen that soon – but every couple of weeks he’d ask me about when we’d make it ‘official’. My parents were none too thrilled either. For nearly 2 years we carried on, in our blissful little bubble. Little did I know that I was being horribly cheated on. That shattered my dreams of having the ‘perfect’ relationship. It didn’t help that all our friends were getting married one after the other.
For nearly 4 years post this relationship I had a string of bad dates. And a few horribly failed ‘set-ups’. I began to lose the notion of finding the ‘one’. I took it upon myself that whenever it was meant to happen, it would. When that notion started looking even more bleak, I asked my folks to start setting me up. But, my heart wasn’t in it. It just wasn’t. I couldn’t do this. In this much time, my brother got married and being younger than me, I knew the questions of me not being married would come to the fore. Luckily my parents stood by me and brushed off any snide remarks that came my way. Deep down, I knew that it wasn’t a good feeling. Carry on.
Once my brother got married, I realized my life, in every aspect didn’t excite me anymore. It didn’t make me feel like I was doing something fulfilling with my life. I loved to write, so for the last 5 years, I’ve been working my way to becoming a writer that was taken seriously – so I entered the dance music industry (EDM for those who aren’t aware) and fought my way to becoming a writer that has gained a small foothold in the industry that is booming. It gave me hope. Purely with my own efforts, struggles, and facing a lot of rejections I began to pursue writing as a serious profession. And I have a lot to show for it. And it gives me a sense of achievement. I have a long way to go, but whatever I’ve done, it has been of my own merits.
I also realized that I have a passion for teaching toddlers, so again, I took up teaching at an enrichment centre and then I moved over to Kidville India, where I will be completing a year this March. I haven’t felt such joy as I have working here.
In 2013, I met a boy who swept me off my feet – and I felt like I finally had met someone who would take care of me. Little did I know that I was being led on, being made a fool of and a go-between till he found his better half. I didn’t see any of the warning signs. I didn’t pay attention. I should have. And I fell hard. On my face. But, being older, I picked up the pieces and worked even harder. And didn’t let that deter from the fact that there was someone out there for me. Maybe my relationships have been less than successful, but I don’t give up that easily. I don’t.
This brings me to my original question – growing older, have I grown wiser? What have I got to show for it? I have built my own career, I have made a name for myself and I have done everything – solely on my own. And even if I am depressed about turning a year older, I look back on the last few years and know that I’ve achieved so much, and even if I have a long way to go, I’ve proved it to myself that anything I set my mind to – I can shine. And that, is what makes me happier than I’ve ever been.