Romania had one hell of a way to welcome us. We had dragged ourselves out of the flight after 20 hours in transit, when 3 burly ashen-faced men stopped us the moment we stepped into the airport. Passport, they demanded. Confused and intimidated by these casually-dressed men, we dug around in our bags. A little police badge on their belt was our only solace. They examined us well, comparing our passport photos with our faces for what felt like an eternity, and finally let us enter a country that would stop us from judging people by their stern expressions and lack of smiles. Read more
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It all began one night, when a friend and I sat staring at the world map. I had landed a fat assignment and finally reached my savings goal for a long overdue trip out of India. After turning down many drab international 3-4 day FAM trips that offered nothing immersive or even remotely exciting, I craved a mix of the east and the west, interesting food and the chance to experience a culture I knew little about. Romania seemed to tick all the boxes. Flights were booked, visa hurdles painfully crossed, and off we went. Into a world that continues to delight and surprise me.
I’m penning this post from the cosy courtyard of one of my favorite cafes in Singapore, on whose sunny shores I landed two days ago. It was here, in this tiny island nation that my tryst with travel started, and I used it as a base to explore Southeast Asia while studying and then working. It feels surreal walking its familiar streets and revisiting my favorite hangouts, as I connect the many dots that led to the path I’m now on, but I digress.
This post is dedicated to you, whoever you are and wherever you’re reading from. Thank you. Thank you for being a part of The Shooting Star, for leaving me words of wisdom and encouragement, for liking & sharing my posts, and for being with me virtually. I couldn’t have made it to 100,000 views without you. I present you with a brand new look today. Read more
A quarter life crisis is not a myth. Every 20-something reaches a point in life that is the peak of the adult version of adolescence. At that point begin a series of assessments, of one’s accomplishments, relationships, and the past, present & future. More often than not, these assessments give way to disappointment, anger and confusion, or a 20-something’s version of a mid-life crisis. The severity and implications of a Quarter Life Crisis aka QLC vary with each individual.
A study solemnly reports that every 3 in 4 people aged 26 to 30 go through a Quarter Life Crisis, while the Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia have some broad opinions on what such a crisis entails. The pace at which our generation moves has redefined most demographics, and having just turned 23, I’m attempting to discuss how to cope with a QLC, and hoping I wouldn’t relapse.
1. Let go.
We carry a heavy burden from our past, of broken friendships, unfulfilled promises and seemingly wrong choices. In retrospect however, these defining moments have made us who we are today, and if we look deep down inside, we’ve turned out just fine. We’ll never know what those friendships might have brought us, or those promises. We’ll never know how a different choice might have changed our lives, for better or for worse.
What we do know is our present, and chances are, it’s not as bad as we sometimes make it look. Take what you have and move on. Empty your backpack of the burden. Let go.
2. The 80-20 rule.
In the last few months, I’ve developed great affinity with a self-derived version of the 80-20 rule : Spend 80% of your time with 20% of the people that matter most. Adulthood is marked with a steep rise in responsibilities and commitments, leaving much less time to manage relationships. Gone are the days when we could juggle a dozen people every day on different scales of friendship and trust.
Ask yourself, who are the people that laugh and cry with you, that make you happy, and you’ll know how to use the 80-20 rule.
3. Do what you love.
It’s the only way to live. We do what we have to do so we can do what we want to do. Sometimes, it takes longer to be able to do what we love, but we have to continuously work towards that light at the end of the dark tunnel we’re stuck in. As George Elliot says, it’s never too late to be what you might have been.
At a sub-conscious level, we know what we love to do. Many people put it into a box that hangs at the back of their heads, surfacing again at their mid-life crisis. Unlock that box and start adding thoughtful ingredients to it, so someday, your life will be the product of that concoction.
A friend pointed me to how-to-do-what-you-love wisdom by Paul Graham for further inspiration. Get inspired :)
4. Be comfortable in your own shoes
The only person you need to impress is yourself. Say that to yourself every moment of every day till you internalize it, and you’ll see a giant difference in the way you do things. It’s human nature to feel judged, but that’s also the greatest obstacle to making the most of life and everything that comes with it. I can’t help but urge you to read there’s-no-better-time-to-be-happy-than-now piece by Crystal Boyd.
Spend your QLC thinking of what really matters in life, because that’s all that matters. And know that you’re not alone, we’re all in it together.
Also read: 25 things I’d tell the 25-year-old me
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1. The first quarter of your life is behind you. Let’s keep assuming you’ll live to be a 100. Live your best life.
2. Apply the 80-20 rule to life. Spend 80% of your time with 20% of the people who matter most.
3. May some things never change. Like you obsessing over your blog stats.
4. Sometimes, you’ve just got to take the shit people throw at you & move on.
5. By now, you should have said at least once in your life, “There’s no where else I’d rather be, and nothing else I’d rather be doing.” And meant it.
6. It’s not all downhill from here. ‘Life begins at 30′ might just be true.
7. It’s okay to lie for a good cause.
8. We’re past the Gandhian era. If life bitch-slaps you, don’t offer your other cheek.
9. If you don’t wake up every morning just for a glance outside your window, you better be panicking. Life is too short to live in an ugly place.
10. What good is your money if it can’t make you happy?
11. As people get richer, they get stingier. Poor & big-hearted is better than rich & stingy.
12. The difference between a good day & bad day is just a moment. Find yours.
13. On some days, create that moment for someone else.
14. Think BIG. Always.
15. Life is too short to watch someone else live your dream. Look elsewhere.
16. Just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean it needs to be done.
17. Just because everyone says it, doesn’t mean you should too.
18. Allow space for your principles to evolve. It’ll make you a better person.
19. Once you’re dead, it doesn’t matter what your grave says.
20. Don’t obsess over what people think of you. Judge yourself.
20. Take risks. What’s the worse that could happen?
21. Treasure good friends. They only come along a few times in a lifetime.
22. You are the only one stopping yourself from the next best thing.
23. Is today the day you’ll try something new?
24. Treat yourself to some chocolate every once in a while.
25. Why so serious?
PS: I’ll be bordering 25 in 2 years. It’s never too early to share the wisdom :)
What would you say to your future self?
The more you try, the less you get.
Many people get stuck in the quiet-before-the-storm when it comes to ideas, just like when it comes to girls. So here I am, trying to help you kill two birds with one stone:
1) Find something else to do.
Newton wasn’t thinking of gravity when he discovered it. Think of gravity as true love (aka the girl you need to woo) or that one idea that will change the world. Until your apple falls, read a book.
2) Research, research, research.
Google has everything you need to know. Learn from the mistakes of other people, incrementally innovate on innovations, and let your mind dissolve the boundaries of thoughts, possibilities, imagination and benchmarks. The best ideas are inspired by some creative company, and Google is not something she’ll ever be jealous of.
3) Help technology help you.
The whole the-best-ideas-come-while-in-the-shower idea is great to inspire the daily ritual, but it’s also true. And it’s not just the shower; ideas come when you’re trying to shut out your thoughts for the day, when you’re waiting at the traffic light to cross the road, when you’re waiting in the cashier queue – basically at all times when you’re not inclined to think hard.
Reach out for the phone in your pocket. Make notes. If you happen to be near a laptop, scribble it down on a Google document so it doesn’t get lost on a hard disk. If you are still thinking girls, replace “best ideas” with remembering the little things she says. Use them when you need to score brownie points – a trick that will never fail you.
4) Get coffee in a cafe.
Anyone can down a couple of drinks at a noisy bar and muster up the strength to hold a conversation. Only real men can hold one over a sober cup of coffee. Caffeine is the kind of simulant that a well-oiled brain needs, and most cafes have the ambiance to allow free flow of thoughts. You can watch the world pass by and still feel comfortable at your pace of thoughts. That’s why they call it thinking out of the box.
Disclaimer: Brainstorming is an art you can acquire with some practice, but as you probably know from experience, girls are a complicated species!
I read a thought somewhere
A thought I thought myself
Someone thought it long ago
Now it sits on my book shelf.
I heard a song on the radio
Made from the tears I shed
Someone wrote it far away
Now it’s stuck in my head.
We are made of the same stuff
You and I
Flesh, blood, tears, sighs
Pain, love, fear, lies.
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This decade, let’s pledge that we shall do what we resolve, resolve what we want, and want what we need. No more New Year resolutions that are made to break. No more wishful thinking.
Keep 2011 resolutions
- Take baby steps. If you throw yourself into the deep end, chances are you’ll drown. Cut it down one drink at a time. Aim for one better deed a day. Save up on one extravagant splurge a week. Make one new friend. Push yourself, but not so hard that you fall.
- Use social media. Let’s face it, we share the best & worst of us on Facebook, Twitter and every other whim we stumble upon. Use that same addiction to help you stick to them resolutions. Mashable has a neat list of resources, if your resolutions have to do with physical fitness, saving money or getting your online presence in order.
- Find a buddy. Cheesy as it may sound, having friends with similar motivations can be a great way to keep resolutions. You can compare notes, start a routine, inspire, and compete.