As usual, this blog post is inspired by a friend’s comments about one of my previous posts about the 20s and growing up. I usually write such posts as rants – to get it out of me – but apparently it struck a chord with some other people, and so I am going to write some more of such stuff. Enjoy!
One of the things that strikes me as I think about childhood is that charming sense of infinite possibility: your whole life is out there in front of you, and you can do whatever you want, and achieve any goal you set out to do, travel to any place you want, and have as much as fun as you could possibly imagine. Apart from this sense of possibility making me view my whole life in such positive terms, it somehow also translated to small things as well: when I came back from school, the few hours available for play seemed like entire days: we found time to play so many things, get into so many scuffles, and get yelled at by so many different people. Weekends were magical: one of my favorite feelings was getting up on a weekend and feeling the sheer length of free time available in front of me.
By contrast, the older you get, the shorter the days, and time just flies. Undergrad, the first day of college at CEG, feels like yesterday, but is getting to close being a decade ago. A decade. What a horrible word. I never thought the day would come when I would say “It is a decade since we did that? Do you remember?” Makes one feel so goddamn old!
As I got older, I still hung on to that sense of future possibility: “Its ok if I haven’t done X yet, I can always do it later.” Replace X with whatever it is that you dream of: traveling to Europe, going sky-diving, starting a company, etc. That sense gives you hope, and tells you that it is alright, and that the future will be as you always imagined.
The thing is, sooner or later, you have to face up to the fact that time has passed by, and sooner or later, there will be somethings you won’t do, and possibly will never do. And this hit me recently. And it hit me pretty hard.
It struck me that I am almost never going to become a really popular blogger. I am never going to be – in the terms of my younger self – “super mega” rich. I am almost never going to do that internship in Europe that I had dreamed about. And the list stretched on, as reality finally met my dreams, resulting in quite a few broken dreams. That wonderful sense of possibility vanished as it became clear that whenever you make one choice, you basically shut the door on certain other choices.
For me, this was the one of the big significant moments of adulthood – facing up to reality, and understanding that certain dreams are never going to be fulfilled, and that there are certain paths I can’t go down anymore. This was really hard because I’m usually very optimistic and accepting that there is no way life is going to do down certain paths was totally opposite to my usual way of thinking. But I think this is a moment that everyone has to undergo at some point – some people are really mature and introspective, and realize this pretty early on; others like me don’t really get it until something external triggers a flashback. I would definitely say that experiencing this is a good signpost on your personal growth journey.
The second moment was accepting that this is ok. This took a lot of time – there was this whole period where I was generally feeling “old” and down. Over time, you realize that your current life isn’t so bad, that where you are right now is a pretty good place, and that you made your choices for a reason. That you already have those moments that you are glad you lived through. That some of those dreams (ex: being “super mega” rich) are the dreams of someone else – your younger, past self – and you are now this other person with a different set of dreams, and that you are on the way to fulfilling your current set of exciting dreams. And that is all that matters.