By Sonya Rehman
So I recently turned 26. And for some odd reason, the thought of it didn’t flip me out like I thought it would. I did however; wake up on the 9th of January feeling as if I didn’t want anyone fussing over me.
Although, secretly, I will admit – I quite like being fussed over as long as it’s not made obvious. If it is made obvious, I feel quite silly actually. Especially on birthdays. This is because I imagine frightening little scenes where I’m dressed in a heavily embellished shalwar-kameez, with a bib attached to my collar, surrounded by friends and family, stuffing my face with frothy cake, whilst being photographed and videoed with a DJ (who goes by the name of ‘DJ Yakoob’) spinning a club version of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ in the distance.
Birthdays can be really grand affairs these days and I suppose that’s what gives me the heebie-jeebies.
The other day I met with a few close friends when we got talking about whether or not hitting a ‘quarter-life crisis’ in one’s mid/late 20s was a reality or not.
I believe it is. “Our generation is so caught up with trying to make something out of ourselves that by the time we reach 26-28, we find ourselves completely burnt out”, one of my friends said.
He was right. By our age, everyone has either gotten their ‘act together’ vis-à-vis getting hitched to an old sweetheart or finding a decent job. Or on the other hand, maybe our generation finds itself displaced – wanting desperately to appear ‘settled’ and in control of their lives. But the burnt out part I can somewhat relate with at this stage.
Gone are the days of teenage angst, acne, a passionate temper and puppy love. Maybe once we hit our mid-20s we begin to understand ourselves better, we tone down. We’re far less ignorant, and more practical. More self-assured. How bloody boring.
I recall either reading this particular line somewhere or watching an actor saying it in some movie. I fail to remember the name of the book and/or movie but the line went something like never losing one’s ‘childish enthusiasm’ and that it should always be retained throughout one’s life.
I believe that to be quite true. There’s a limit to how pragmatic you can be after all – pragmatic about love, about life, about careers, about friends…about everything really. Because to be pragmatic constantly, makes one calculate the pros and cons of everything on a constant basis.
Horrid and tiring I tell you. Also, in the long-run, quite embittering. No doubt a certain dose of pragmatism can save one from a lot of hassle and heartbreak; yet, it leaves a lot to be desired. Because you’re always on your guard and on alert mode all the blinking time. Hence, new experiences – whether good or bad – are slashed down to a big zero.
How then, does one grow internally without some risk-taking, without throwing caution to the wind every now and then?
With the onset of winter, I had the pleasure of meeting an old friend’s sibling’s friends (there’s a tongue twister for you right there).
All in their early 20’s – not quite adults, and yet, not quite children either, with big, undecided dreams…I almost found myself slightly jealous of the few years they had – rolled out like a plush red carpet – before they were to enter the mid/late 20’s zone.
I’m not sour about turning 26, I assure you. But it’s just that now, when I see the generation below mine, I find them to be so much wiser than how we used to be in our early 20’s. And maybe that’s what throws me off balance a little. The premature wisdom that these little fellas have.
I was quite a goof at 21 (still am), as were my batch mates during our college days. We’d mosey about, without a care in the world. There was something very raw, teenage-ish about us back then. Highly naïve. Inherently trusting. The 21-year-olds that I see now have this wonderful, almost alien wisdom in their eyes that I never had at their age. And it baffles me at times – their self-assured gait, speech and presence.
In all of this, the sad part is that maybe this generation has grown up too fast – so fast that they now stand a little jaded, a little broken, a little too pragmatic.
Maybe age, really just is just a number. Maybe some of us eventually do make conscious decisions whether or not to be young at heart for the rest of our lives, or, to appear wise…well beyond our years.
The Friday Times