Is age just a number?

Ever heard someone say “Age is just a number?” Don’t believe them. Age is a number, yes but not “just” a number. A few hundred years ago, when people asked you “ASL?”, you couldn’t just say “14/F/Bang” because 14 was never a good enough age on the internet. You had to be “18/F/Bang” for anyone to remotely continue a conversation with you. Sure, it would usually be with a guy who’d eventually creep you out with a dick pic but atleast that made you feel like you belong. Early teens is an awkward phase to be in because you are battling all these adult like feelings in a kid’s body and it always feels like no one gets you. Fast forward a decade, and you start feeling the exact opposite – battling kid like feelings in a fully grown adult’s body and again, it feels like no one gets you.

For the first time in several years, I wasn’t nervous about my birthday. I didn’t pull out my notebook and make crazy lists of people who wished me. I didn’t mind that I wasn’t woken up by any midnight calls. I didn’t expect anything  from the husband, who is forever nervous in the days leading up to 10th June every year. So, it was pleasantly surprising to see that he’d spent whole of 9th sitting and writing 13 blogposts for me (I keep bugging him to do that, in case you thought he was being creative!). All I wanted to do was have a quiet day with no grand agenda or unnecessary drama because I wanted nothing to remind me of raging.

Within the last one year, I have grown by several years. Gaining new relationship status does that to you. Your age doubles when you have a child or atleast, it feels like. You could go to an ex lover and he’ll probably mistake you for your grandmother. Sometimes when a stranger walks upto me and tells me that I’m just being cynical, I go back and ask my old pair of jeans. They are stretch and so I don’t entirely trust them. Then, I go and ask my husband if he’ll buy me Olay anti ageing cream and he promptly says yes (because his instincts are trained to say yes for anything over the last 7 years), but quickly comes back to check if it was a trick question. So, thank god, maybe I am indeed just being cynical.

Every time I begin a new decade, it feels like I have started a new descent. This starts with a phase of denial followed by bitter acceptance. At 10, I said good bye to frocks. At 20, I said goodbye to innocence. At 30, I am saying good bye to a 26” waistline (just kidding, I am sure i’ll be 26” again, soon!). But hey, I am saying hello to unwanted wisdom and knee pain. What more could I ask for?

P.S – This ageing thing clearly doesn’t suit me.

 

 

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Do we fall in love lesser as we grow older?

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“Love knows no age”. At ages 16 or 60, we believe that we are just as likely to be caught off guard by love. I don’t blame you, if I weren’t already married, I would be inspired by Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum or Dimple Kapadia in Dil Chahta Hai as well. I am not saying it’s impossible but I am merely making an argument for why it is less likely. Lack of correlation between age and likelihood of falling in love is a self fulfilling misnomer. The thing about love is, we most appreciate it and acknowledge it when it happens when we least expect it.

At 15 or 16, our parents provide for financial and moral insurance, friends act as emotional insurers and we have ourselves for sexual discoveries. Then when all of a sudden, this one amazing person comes along, who can provide for most of this and that too, undivided, we go all dizzy (from love and attention) because we never expected to feel the way this person makes us feel. This feeling then gets benchmarked for the definition of love without being tested for durability or sustainability.

When we have fallen in love once, we go looking for that elusive feeling we felt for the very first time and it never really comes back. This is because every experience is different, every lover is different and most importantly, expectations always go hand in hand with disappointments. For those of us who haven’t fallen in love yet, stories and movies etch this fuzzy and warm definition of love fairly strongly in us. So, when our ecosystem of love and attention begins to collapse with age (parents get old, friends get busy and our hands get weak!), this is when the need for a soulmate or a single individual who satisfies every need of ours, arises.

While the need is justified, the problem is with expecting for it to happen and looking for it everywhere all the time. When this doesn’t happen, we naturally get disappointed, making us cynical and desperate, further reducing the chances of someone finding us attractive. This is besides the fact that after a certain age (early 20s for women and late 20s for men), physical attractiveness is inversely correlated with age. No, we don’t age like wine. Sorry.

Then there are all these logistical issues of our social circle growing smaller because most friends are married, people have hardly any time to go out and also, it’s weird to hook up with people in office. So, its in situations like these that the institution of arranged marriage comes to our rescue. Market clearnace happens on dry checklists and pure logic and you don’t expect to fall in love over a plate of upittu kesaribath.

What this institution does is to set your expectations right and clarify your chances of landing a partner unlike Tinder which makes you believe that your possibilities are endless. Anyway, with experience, this warm and fuzzy definition of love eventually crumbles and we realise that love is beyond all of this and actually knows no age (but this is for another blogpost)!

Independent or Communal living..where are we headed?

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We spend most of our young adult lives wanting to be independent, craving nuclear lives and freedom because it feels most optimal at the time where we have very little time to manage our own expectations of life, let alone others. This is probably one of the reasons why so many women nowadays tell me that they prefer not to live with in-laws. Now, there’s nothing wrong with how we feel because it’s only natural for the type of lives we live managing high pressure jobs, consuming marriages and a lot of attention needing children. Having said this, there are many people who smilingly or grudgingly pull off joint families, either out of desire or necessity, and hats off to them, but let me assure you that this is more an outlier than a trend today. We are definitely moving from a more communal model to an individualistic model at least in the way we run our homes and families here in South India (being specific due to lack of data about the North here) today.

My mum recently told me about the success (read happiness) of joint families among Marwaris and I argued vehemently about all the sacrifices women in these families would have to make (such as not pursuing demanding careers, etc) in order to keep families together and how their lives would be like that of Sejal or Tulsi from Kyunki sans bhai kabhi bahu thi! Such sacrifices would be considered a sin in ours or any typical south indian brahmin household today (let alone feminist sentiments) since education and profession hold utmost importance in our lives irrespective of gender. After several minutes of debate over joint vs nuclear families and desperately trying to convince each other of our own opinions, we gave up and went our separate ways.

Beyond these arguments, I realised what Amma was really trying to get at was how old age breeds insecurities since we no longer have the physical confidence to handle adversities like we did in our 20s or 30s or 40s, which in turn depletes mental/ emotional well being making us wish we had nurtured a community that would support us in our old age. Of course, the growing mismatch of our sustained traditional expectations of children taking care of their parents in old age, and increasing number of individuals seeking familial independence, doesn’t help matters much.

Honestly, I cannot comprehend these exact insecurities just as well as Amma does, but only time can tell. Parents sacrifice their prime adult lives bringing up children and even supporting them with their children, while having to expect nothing in return because children like us don’t like being thrust with guilt for not returning the favour. We regularly indulge in discussions with friends our age about how some parents (who we only see/ know from a distance) prefer to be independent and pursue their personal interests over their kids. Yes, children are selfish and as my sister says, that’s just the way of life. We do this to our parents, they did it to theirs, our children do this to us, their children do this to them and so on.

But on a less selfish note, I think parents having their own lives gives parents a chance to live their individual dreams  and makes their lives worth living beyond just seeing their progeny prosper, which I believe should not be the only aim in one’s life (Amma would disagree, but what the hell, we have several sleepless nights ahead of us to argue this out!). While this argues in favour of more independent living for all, my traditional upbringing still makes me guilty for thinking these thoughts, making me wonder if there is a fine balance between being independence and thriving in a community at all and where our generation is headed!

Why pursuing passion becomes more expensive with age

One of the reasons I am a compulsive blog starter is my constant need to organize/ classify my thoughts. I feel like I need to have different blogs for different topics. The only way I can move onto being a compulsive blogger from a blog starter is to cut myself some slack and allow myself to rant about absolutely random thoughts at the start/ end of every post before I really get to the crux of the post. I intend to do this till I settle down into a comfortable routine.

This particular post is about why it has been a lot harder for me to pursue my passions and indulge in extra-curricular (for the lack of a more relevant term) as I grow older. I was in the middle of a microeconomics class on coursera, when the prof was talking about opportunity cost of watching his lecture could be a basketball game with friends. This got me thinking as to why it’s been so much harder to play basketball more regularly as a working professional unlike when I was in college. Similarly, I now barely manage to paint once a year while I used to paint atleast ten times a year back in college.

As you grow older and busier (Unfortunately, unlike academics, which demand higher quality of your time, jobs demand more commitment in terms of quantity of time), hence, most people are very selective of how they spend their free time. There is a need to prioritize one’s engagements, which means that anyone who commits to any activity does so only because their most passionate about it and want to get the best of their time engaging in it. So if you want to go out onto the basketball court and play with a few serious players, you can be sure that there is a very low probability of finding the same set of people in a music class. In order to find a place in each of these different groups, you will need to make a high initial investment of getting to know these people before you can spend time with them on a regular basis. This would sum up to high initial investment X the number of groups you want to be a part of. On the contrary, in college, the high initial investment is made only once. Then its just subsets of the same group that you are bound to encounter in the different activities.

Also, he high initial investment that needs to be made seems a lot higher when your social skills start to plateau, which is sometime when you’re in your late 20s or early 30s. This makes it a lot harder to pull yourself out of the comfort of home or regular job to start pursuing/ renewing passions. This is a common problem I see among most people of my previous generation. I sometimes find myself getting there too. But, I’ve been hopeful only because I’m going to college soon. Yet, I worry about how I’ll manage to sustain my extra-curricular engagements as the same scenario will apply post college.

I can think of two solutions to this problem – Become a people collector (like Udhay Shankar) or live in the same city as most of your close college friends (like a lot of Indians who live in the US). I realize they seem like far fledged solutions but I would consider trying the former sometime in life as the investment threshold is a lot lower.