Living the twenties is taking a stroll through a minefield.
Days are just hours of boredom. Productivity is a non-existent concept. You suspect the power of education, career and all those stuff in bringing you happiness. A minimum of two hours are spent daily on having imaginary conversations with non-existent people. As long as Urban Dictionary can be trusted for definitions, this is what post adolescent idealist phase looks like.
“The time after the pointless teen years in which a young person develops what are called “standards” and “morals.” It is a time in which eyes are opened and “The Truth” suddenly becomes clear. Usually beginning when one enters college, said young person reads deep literature, searches for the meaning of life, and listens to college radio, all the while secretly becoming even more confused than when he/she was a lame 16 year old. The Post-Adolescent Idealistic Phase usually entails naive 18-20something year olds upholding hopeful, yet unrealistic morals. Often, utopian dreams can be confused for “The Truth.””
So here I am going to talk on how I dealt with this phase so far, if at all it exists. By the way this is a pointless article, absolutely pointless. If you still have got laundry to do, that would be a better option.
Turning eighteen was expected to change life and it did change it. I grew attached to Shakespeare, Kant and of course Austen! I become a self-proclaimed romantic. Alternatively, this means I would rather spend my nights re-reading the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice than binge watching TV shows. Till date I haven’t been able to watch more than the first five episodes of Game of Thrones. Real life is already too complicated to let in tribal rulers who have a primitive sex party on their weddings.
For many years I have adored Elizabeth Bennet, trying to replicate her in day-to-day life. It came with immense despair when I stumbled on Bridget Jones. My thought process leaned towards Bridget Jones, the twentieth century version of Elizabeth. The thirty something Singleton, confused and frustrated in a world where everything is over in three minutes. The only differences I can recount between Bridget and me is that I am not thirty, haven’t smoked, or tasted alcohol except for the time when I licked some vodka with a fork, which tasted like homeopathy medicines (The #43 on my Before 20 Bucket List thus went unfulfilled. Drink. ).
Once I entered into college every vacation parents pop this question “What are your career plans?”.
“I am going to set up a cake shop in rural England”.
Laughingly,”You do realize that your baking skills are pitiable, right?”
In tears do I remember the days when I used to create the perfect double -layered apple cake, while still in high school. Today my pineapple cake is a soggy and bitter mass which only the cats in the neighborhood bother to eat. And dinner rolls are hard as diamond. Even toasting bread has become rocket science.
“If not a culinary career, I’ll think of a book shop or antique dealing”.
“You better get a job, for we’ll stop your funding once you finish college”, by which what they actually mean is “We are going to get you married to some Gulf guy when you are done with education”. It used to bother me for sometime; the countless times I lie crying in the bed thinking of how trapped being a girl is, until one night alone in a bus from Trivandrum to Chennai I punched a middle-aged bastard when I found his hands on my waist. I am not even going to be forced a bowl of pongal. Don’t bother gulf guys and jerks.
Talking about career, the only thing that I was committed to deeply for almost a decade was Egyptology. An Egyptologist. Dig up all the graves, learn hieroglyphics and find out who Tut’s real mom was. Well that didn’t happen. Not all parents are confident enough to send their kids to a country where there are frequent revolutions and violence. That’s how Arab Spring ruined the only dream I ever had since I learned to eat without spilling food from my plate.
One way I found to kill monotony of existence is experimenting on hairstyles, cutting it short every now and then when I thought life’s sick. Faced with the question, “Why do you cut your hair every six months? It doesn’t suit you. You look good with long hair” from both friends and family alike, I have been only able to smile, underlying which is my “Because my long lost best friend had a panic attack after eating pickled olives!! Why do you people have to be a spoilsport?!” line of thought.
I am not very fond of myself when I say that I actually had stages in late teens when I was medically accused as a bulimiac. Being raised in a family where valetudinarianism is as close as religion, I was filled with enormous regret after eating anything remotely similar to ‘junk food’.
I wander around the world with a bag where one compartment is permanently earmarked for strips of Allegra tablets and Alpenleibe lollipops, which would soon be expanded to include tablets for diabetes too. “How can you have higher blood sugar levels when you don’t eat anything?”, Amma asks, where I think if “I am trying to be a sweet person” is a good reply. So far I was successful in evading all doctors who tried to cure my allergies. From allopathy to ayurveda and then to homeopathy, it was a vicious cycle. I have no reason to empathize with doctors, especially the one who said “You are not supposed to have coffee, chicken, egg, pickles, carbonated drinks, masala food, chocolates or anything with hormones, ” It would have been easier if she just mentioned what I am allowed to eat. Allergies suck.
Another gift of late teens was Jane Austen. Austen gave me expectations. Expectations of a happy life in the English meadows. Expectations of mastering the power of persuasion and mature thinking. Expectations of romance where the perfect man would someday make his grand entry. Mature, tall, Jane Austen appreciator, mango lover, intelligent and the one who experiences frequent mood swings. The perfect man. And then you realize that traditionally these are mostly the characteristics of a perfect woman. Am I a lesbian? It was difficult to answer this question until one day at an ultra sound scan I whispered to the nurse that I would rather be scanned by a female doctor than the handsome twenty- something male doctor who stood there. That day I had cracked it. I may be straight after all. Being naked, even if partially, in front of an unknown male was unimaginable for someone who lives in a fictitious world where Victorian morality still prevails. Too much Austen can ruin your life.
Following Shakespeare’s advice on how we should be able to seize love when you feel it, I also did my own version of romance, secretly admiring someone culminating in a face-to-face encounter. From then it was a steady drive downhill. Not only was that a disaster, but that was the first time I broke the thin line between being brave and being stupid. I recollect the months that followed as how a seven year old would wake up at midnight and stare at the moving curtains after having watched Paranormal Activity. That phase was such a drag until an old woman in a train randomly gave a lecture on being a good human. Do not trade yourself for something which Frankie Heck from The Middle would say, is not worth the fight. It felt weird but also insanely good, linking her advice to real life. So after months of depreciating ego and self esteem, the Shakespearean Romantic phase was officially closed. Emotional fuckwittage. Not again. Emotional fuckwittage.
The post adolescent idealist phase is an obsession with perfection; perfect mind, perfect life, perfect hobby, perfect thoughts, perfect health, perfect guy and so on. The list is endless. Finally one ends up being a perfect mess. The conclusion is corroborated with the fact that I was talking about myself all these time.
One night at the Rocky Beach in Pondicherry, I whined to Atul about how dreamless and confused I have become. And then he says some life-saving philosophy.
“Sofia, what will you be doing on May 5th at 8 pm exactly ten years from now?” Atul asked.
“Err- making an apple strudel in the Alps, I guess”
“See, now you have a dream”
After all the shit, it feels good to have friends who are unimaginably optimistic.