I spent last weekend reading most of the emails and comments from readers of this column. A recurring problem most haters seem to have is that I’m too young to be writing about relationships. Maybe it’s true, I don’t know. Will I have a different worldview 20 years from now? God, I hope so. Does that mean my reality and thoughts right now are a lesser truth than when I’m 45? I doubt it.
Strangely enough, the comments reminded me of my parents. I have a sister I love to death. She’s two years older and has a three-year-old baby. For those weak at maths, that means she was married and pregnant before she turned 26. Theoretically speaking, apart from my nephew, our life graphs are pretty similar. At 24, she was in love and was going through the rigours of adjusting to a man who her heart knew was important but her brain was still getting used to. Check. At 25, she was struggling to maintain some semblance of work-life balance. Check. And yet, the day she got married, somehow, she seemed to have gotten a leg-up in life’s ranking. I’ve heard friends complain about marriage being just a socially accepted, signed and sealed document legitimising sex. They’re wrong. Marriage is a caste system. You move up several notches the day you ink the deal. The barriers of entry are strict and absolute. There’s no breaking in.
The day my sister got married, my parents decided she was capable of taking her life’s decisions; a luxury that’s only grudgingly granted me. Like my ‘parents’ at home require marriage as a stamp of maturity, my parents here require me to have clocked a certain number of years before I’m allowed to have an opinion. Okay then.
So all these thoughts about the fragile link between age and opinions had me staring into the mirror and trying to visualise my life 20 years from now. Will I be satisfied or will I have a laundry list of changes I’d like to advise my younger self to make before it was too late? Will the gambles with my heart pay off or will my older self wish I’d let someone shake some sense into me? Scary questions.
I don’t know what the 45-year-old me will want to tell the 25-year-old me, but no matter how life turns out, there are some things I want my older self to remember, some things I’m willing her to remember.
So here it is:
1) I want you to remember how you felt when you were in love. In all probability, you’re not with The Dude anymore. You probably took a long time to get over him. Others may call it a criminal waste of your ‘good years’, but I hope you’re not the kind of person who can’t remember the good times. There were plenty. The trips, the fights, the breakup sex, the makeup sex, finding his buttons, pushing them, this column, the first tentative steps into someone’s inner sanctum… They made the ‘good years’ worth it.
2) By now, I hope your Harvard dream isn’t just that. But even if you haven’t made it a reality, you should be proud. Going it alone was the hardest decision you’d ever made until then. If you succeeded, great. If you didn’t, you still did a lot more than pimply-faced teenagers who intellectually masturbated behind their Twitter masks.
3) I hope you’ve learned how to convert millions into billions and vice-versa without looking so profoundly dismayed at the idea. Or else stop touting your stint as a financial journalist. It’s embarrassing, really.
4) I hope you have a better relationship with your parents now than you had 20 years ago. Remember that just like they couldn’t be the parents you needed them to be, you couldn’t be the daughter they wanted you to be. But they loved you the best they knew. I hope you’ve let go of past hurts. You’re not the kind of person who can be happy without family. Don’t try pretending otherwise.
5) I hope you have better sense than to sleep without taking the makeup off. You could get away with that shit in your 20s; in your 40s, do yourself a favour and learn some discipline, please.
Going by the current count, I’m sure there’ll be a mountain range of mistakes behind you by the time you turn 45. I just want you to know that no matter how badly you screwed up and how many times you may have been the bad guy, I promise you, you tried to set things right.
So never, ever forget you’re loved. Especially by me.