2024 Q1 Update

It was almost April end (but not quite) as I sat on my comfy-cotton-sheets-on bed scrolling through Instagram stories friends had posted. I came across this post with a caption talking about how so many of us take no time to celebrate our wins but keep going on and on -- no slowing down.

It struck a chord with me – there has been so much I have not celebrated because I was busy planning for the next thing to get to. Next degree, next internship, next project, next job, next city - next what?

For me, after some self analysis, I think I might know why I do that. There are mainly two reasons.
1. I never was used to taking a break - the culture, the environment I grew up in, the pressure to keep going all the time, to compare with peers, to always be the best at everything, to do everything – it contributed to me constantly being in go, go, go mode.
2. I always think I am running out of time. When I was little, there was only so much I could try and do and be good at. As I got older, there was a sense of pressure to focus on specific things to be good at and a lack of discernment on my end regarding what it was that *I* wanted to be good at. 

Did I always know it was important to celebrate your wins? Yes, of course I did. Look at the number of times my family went out to get ice cream every time our results were out when we were in school. It might not have been the biggest of celebrations, but it was acknowledgment and appreciation. Over time though, I think I started to not care for it much. I got caught up in running this imaginary race that everyone kept mentioning I was in. ‘They have 73618736i hobbies’, ‘they went to XYZ city’, ‘they are learning a new language’. 
(Also, who is having all these 73618736i hobbies? how are they keeping up with it? how are they good at it all? how are they affording it? I just want to have a chat. And yes, 73618736i is a real number, or maybe not. IYKYK.)

But those were not *my* goals. That was not *my* race. But everywhere you looked, you saw people doing better, doing more than you. Comparison is a thief of joy. But what do you do when everyone is doing all the things you want to do but only better? 

I have always wanted to do everything and go everywhere and meet everyone. Be everything, be everyone.
Knowing well enough, sometimes (more often than one would think and WAY more often than one would want) there's a fork in the road and no option of going back.

In The Unabridged Journals, Slyvia Plath said
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.”

I don’t think I have felt the pain of an ongoing experience the way this quote has. 

And then there’s of course Oscar Wilde saying 
“that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it - that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs.”

In the idea of not knowing what I want to be and constantly pushing the limitations augmented by my own mind in some ways, I have been feeling lost and losing time. 

Do not get me wrong, I have tried my hand at so many things and will continue to do so. And for that I am grateful. But I have not been quite fortunate so far to have stuck to at least a few of those. Life got in the way, in the way of it all - dancing, singing, running (okay, Atlanta weather and humidity mixed with my raging hatred for treadmills got in the way of that one), learning spanish, travelling – all of it. 

It is only now that I am hitting my mid-twenties that I am starting to slow down and be more intentional with what I pick to do next, where I go next and how I fill up my days (and in turn my cup). 

Anyway, I digress.
Here's my three step plan which seems to be working so far.

1. Go back to doing the things I have tried, enjoyed but failed to keep up with.
I am starting with dancing and learning a new language. Being intentional and limiting it to things I can realistically commit to seems to be the way to go. And writing of course.

2. Try new things out.

Try them at least three times. If I do not like it at all, then I move onto the next thing. I will revisit it if I still want to do said thing in the future. Maybe in my 30s or when the 50s roll in, who knows?

3. Keep on keeping on.
Meet new people. Learn from them. Accompany them to try their hobbies. But keep going. There's always going to be only so much time. Instead of being afraid of it, try to make the most of it doing whatever it is that brings joy along.

Bonus 4. If nothing works, play your music and dance. (courtesy: dad's advice)
These need to be unhinged and really long. I mean it, REALLY unhinged.

If you find yourself going through these motions too, I am always up for a chat. Maybe we can pick a new thing to try out together.

Post script:
1. i wrote ‘hitting my mid-twenties’ as though I am not already there, as though the other side will not really be late twenties very quickly. because I am afraid - that I indeed am running out of time. if you are reading this and are well past your mid-twenties, this is your free chuckle as you imagine the horror i will experience when i enter my thirties.

2. a little something i wrote a while ago:

life’s always been fast for me.
think you can keep up?
most days even i cannot
keep up.

it is a mad mad world.
with mad mad people.
i am not looking for others like me.
they are already
running alongside me.

we are reaching for the sun.
(almost there, almost there, almost there)
at the same time,
we’re crashing through
everything and everyone
that comes in our ways.

when we do take breaks,
huddled up around
we narrate stories of it all.
pain. love. agony.
but mostly swollen feet
and tired bodies.
but we still keep going
when the morning comes.