By Sonya Rehman
Before you proceed, please know, this isn’t one of those little rosey-posey slice of life pieces on a 30-something man-less, child-less woman looking back on a life riddled with hardships, championing advice on how to survive Lahore, the world, amidst the sharks and serpents.
Instead, let me tone down the romanticism a few notches, and let’s leave both the self-indulgent cynicism and the twiddle-toe naivety at the door.
Great. So here goes.
I’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember. From my career to my love life, I’ve never been a rash decision-maker: everything was first dreamt up in my head for months (and years), till I carefully worked towards each goal. And instead of letting the tide push me in whatever direction life so wished, I, an inherently stubborn little tyke, fought to build a life I always wanted to live. This stubbornness was a result of seeing my mother struggle all her life, juggling jobs, paying bills and putting my brother and I through school and college single-handedly. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up and help my mother out. As a little person, I felt thoroughly inadequate. Besides, childhood was a complete pain in the a**.
So inadequacy resulted in an obsession with planning. By this age I should be gainfully employed, by such-and-such age I should be married to a stud, and a year into marriage, I should have given birth to twins with bubble toes and bubble butts (okay, I’m exaggerating).
But of course, life the sassy freak of nature that she is, never let me have my way in the love department. And while my career blossomed, my love life was a cab ride from hell, complete with a dodgy driver, pot-holes, and B-grade desi music. As my career-graph went up and up and up, my relationship graph screamed to its death, plummeting to zero.
And so I swung the other way. Er, not that way, I mean, one day I woke up and made up my mind to quit planning my life altogether. It was disappointing. Plus, it made me feel like a fool. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Careem’ing my way through pyaar. Besides, it wasn’t realistic. Nor practical.
The twenties, I realize now, are a great trial and error life phase where you’re finally beginning to understand your inner machinery. But it’s only in your thirties when your sense of completeness starts to settle in thickly. And with that self-awareness comes an internal self-acceptance and an acceptance (not resignation) of external events as they unfold in your life. Now, with every curve ball I never think, ‘Wow, how will I get through this?’ rather, ‘Right, so what tools do I need to survive this? Let’s get to work.’
I turn 34 next month in January, and while I do hope I could plan out the New Year, I’d rather not. Who knows what’s to come? A pay raise? A prince cloaked in toad get-up?
I’m ready for some surprises.
WKND. Magazine, Khaleej Times