I just turned 24 a few hours ago, at least according to India time.
I am going to be entirely honest, I am positively terrified, apprehensive and perturbed by the prospect.
This (irrational?) fear triggered recently when I was contemplating on my life thus far, and what I expected of it and what lay ahead, in store for me. This thought niggled me for a while, until I decided to actually deal with it. I began by reading philosophical articles and blogs on the Internet. I happened to stumble upon a scientific research paper on human behavior from one such blog (I cannot find the link to the paper for a strange reason, so you have to take my word for it). The paper said, humans try to find meaning in life when they are about to enter their 30’s, 40’s, etc. After more such extensive reading, I was rather relieved to learn that it is human nature to assess and measure the meaning of life from time to time, to be more specific, when they crossed a significant milestone in life. And here I am, trying to audit life at 24.
To me, my fear made perfect sense. I mean, Steve Jobs died at the age of 56. So does that mean I am fast approaching the end of the first half of my life and have only 32 years remaining to achieve something significant? Steve co-founded Apple when he was 21. What do I have at 24? A student debt? I shared my perturbation with my elder sister, who is 10 years older than me. “I am 24 and I have nothing to show for it. Is it acceptable if one has lived an insignificant life?”, I asked her with a furrow on my brows. My Akka, the all knowing and wise person that she is, just smiled gently and directed me to this article.
Just to clarify, I am not as paranoid as the author is. Did I fear death? Not really, I just feared not living a meaningful life. Doesn’t matter if nobody understands the meaning of my life, all that matters is, it should make sense to me! I have let go of the worries over things I cannot control. Can I control the H1B bill and prevent it from being passed? No! What I can control is, work on building my skill set so that I am a desirable candidate in the tech workforce, so that employers will be willing to pay me $130k.
Amma had a very practical take on this. “What are you going to feel when you turn 30 or 50? There is no way around this, everyone has to age. You need to accept the fact”. She went on to quote, “Parivartan hi sansaar ka niyam hai!” (Change is the only rule of the Universe).
All this pondering and introspection made me realize, I have a very hungry soul and I need to keep feeding this seemingly gutless, yet hungry monster. The only activities that seem to satiate my appetite are Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music, writing, doodling, reading and learning new things. I have been pretty active on Quora lately, so at least my need for reading and writing are being fulfilled. I have been completely neglecting Bharatanatyam and music and have decided to take it up once more. One of my goals this year, is to perform here in the Bay Area. As far as music is concerned, I am trying to learn from Amma via video calls as much as possible, the fact that I am getting to sing is in itself satisfying. I am learning a lot of new technologies at school and my Computer Science learning curve is becoming steep, so that department seems sorted too. I am taking control of things like this, and trying to give life some meaning. Hopefully, everything will work out.
That said, I may still take my time to come to terms with being 24 and continue to strive to attain meaning in life.
I appreciate all those in India who stayed up till 12:00 AM and beyond, to give me birthday wishes! It is rather exciting and thrilling to get so much attention for two whole days!