Monday, August 27, 2018

Thirty-Two. Act-Two.

Thirty-Two. Act-Two.

When I turned thirty, the number didn't bother me. The big 30 didn't seem that big; the transition from 20s to 30s was pretty smooth and not life-altering in any manner (no sobbing in the shower, no panic attacks, nothing like the movies/books/sitcoms would have us believe).

But then, I quit my job in November, partly as I needed to be home with family, but mostly because I needed to do things for myself. No, I wasn't going through the 'turning-30-crisis' or 'quarter-life-crisis' as some call it.

I was however learning to beTo be proud of who I am, what I believe in and how I see the world. To be imperfect, messy, confused, but always trying. Always trying, to better myself.

Society has created a timeline that pressures women into believing we must have everything figured out and accomplished by a certain age. But I enjoy swimming against the tide, and while most people said to me you can't start over at 30, I said why the hell not! Every single day grants you the opportunity to start over, and so I took a dive and swam towards the kind of life that would make me happier and fulfilled.

Last week I celebrated turning 32, and as I sat with a cake in my hand, going through all the lovely and warm birthday wishes sent from all parts of the world, from friends and family, I couldn't help but feel grateful!

With age, I am learning to be. With age, I am learning to choose a life of abundance, gratitude, and of self-worth.

So, this is my thirty-two something list. Things I've gained perspective on, things I'm still figuring out. Lessons learnt and few things I've had to unlearn.

1. Fall in love with taking care of yourself.
I am not a hundred percent there yet. I sometimes forget to nourish my body, ease back into the take-away food life, not take my vitamins, skip my yoga, loose sleep over silly matters. But I am aware. I make peace. I forgive myself for the imperfections. I try and do better. And that's what matters.

2. Accept and give praise whole-heartedly
Over the past few years, there are so many people who have touched me, both strangers and friends. I make it a point to tell them that, to tell them that I appreciate their kindness.
I am a whole lot better in giving praise, than receiving one.
I need to remind myself, that when someone says I am inspiring/talented/beautiful, I am allowed to feel happy and excited and simply say, 'Thank you!'. No excuses made. No explanations needed.

3. Fall in love with being alone. 
Living a self-employed life is a lonely affair. There are days when I crave and deliberately reach out for human interaction. But for the most part, I love my company. I love getting out by myself, going on solo coffee dates, art exhibitions, just a stroll in the park, or wandering about in the pretty streets of London.

4. Ask yourself: What would I do if I wasn’t so afraid of what other people think?
If it makes sense for you, just do it. Do you!

5. Talk to your parents. Talk to them as two separate entities. Talk means, Listen More. 
Both my parents retired this year in April. The past few months have been really difficult for them for different reasons. They are finding themselves again, learning to prioritize their time in whole new ways, building a new home from scratch. During this process, I've tried to be deliberate in my conversations. And deliberate in keeping the conversations separate. They are two different personalities who are dealing with this newness in their own ways.
I simply ask them: How are you really feeling? What's on your mind? Don't think about anyone else, just you, what do you really want? I ask, and then just listen.

6. Appreciate what you have, always!
There are days, more so often to my liking, that I wake up feeling defeated. Struggling to maintain a steady stream of income, is a big motivation killer. But then, I remind myself of all the abundance in my life. Abundance of love, of good people, of doing what I love, of being able to chase my dreams. I truly believe in the magnetism of the Universe, you attract what you think. It's not always easy steering your mind from negative thoughts/moods to the positive. But you do it with gratitude!

7. Be ruthless with your time.
Seneca, On the Shortness of Life, writes,
"People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy."
Saying No to others, means saying Yes to yourself. I keep reminding myself of this. It seems selfish, but time is ruthless, it won't stop for you. So, you need to be ruthless with your time.

8. Network. Connect. Connect. Network
Now that I am a creative entrepreneur, forming the right connections and networking is the only way to grow. Find the right people, build you trust, grow your empire.

9. You are good at what you do. Trust that.
Imposter syndrome plagues so many writers, creators, entrepreneurs. It is not uncommon. You feel you don't belong. But you do. You feel you are not worthy. But you are. It really is a daily battle, but I have to step back from all the noise and tell myself, 'I am enough.'

10. Drink, but don't get drunk.
I enjoy the occasional drink. Okay, more than the occasional one. (I'm on my second whiskey, as I write this.) But I know my limits.

11. Hug your spouse/partner everyday. Kiss them goodnight. Say 'I love you' and 'thank you' when you wake up each morn'
It takes an extraordinary man to play the primarily supportive role in a marriage. M and I, may not see eye to eye on a few things; he may not always understand why I don't get out of bed on few days, why I sit in one position for hours at length staring at my laptop, why I prioritize a client call over laundry. But he is a hundred percent behind me. Always. And I don't take for granted, his love and support, one bit.

12. Be brave enough to get photographed.
I am kinda good behind the camera (if I can say so myself), but very conscious and awkward when I see a camera pointing in my direction. Ask my friend, Sid!
It's not the camera I am shy of, but myself. Or to put it more bluntly, I don't always like what I see, when I see my pictures. The imperfections glare back at me. Body confidence is a work in progress. Loving your flaws is a learning curve.

Thanks for the pics, Sid!

13. Find your person.
Someone who is your sounding board, who doesn't judge, tells you how it is, someone who is by your side. Always. No hesitation. My person is my sister. Not a day goes by without talking or messaging with her. Your siblings know you when you are in your most inchoate form, they have been part of your journey and seen the highs and lows from up close. So, when in doubt, trust their word.

14. Adopt the Minimalist Lifestyle.
I think I get this from Dad. Every time a new shirt was purchased or gifted, he made sure to give away one in exchange. Growing up with this philosophy and seeing it action, has helped me adopt a minimalist lifestyle. I own 5 pairs of footwear; 4 bags; clothes that I can count on my fingers (my sister-in-law always points out that I'm wearing the same 2-3 outfits in all my travel pics); cutlery enough that we could host a dinner party for 4-6 people, you get the idea! I do, however, am guilty of hoarding books. I have a bed box full of them, back home. And a growing collection here. I'm also not the best at de-cluttering digital photos. I take so many of them, and it is very difficult to delete beautiful memories. Sigh!

15. Don't be afraid to ask for Help. And be open to feedback.
Over the years, I have accepted I can't do it all. I have a fabulous team I work with, who help with the day to day running of The Dance Bible. I have mentored them, and trust them to keep the wheels running smoothly, so that I can focus on the larger picture. I ask for their help, for feedback, listen and implement where I see fit.
It is also important to ask for feedback from fellow creative entrepreneurs/bloggers/writers/photographers. You may never know where you could find a mutually beneficial collaborative opportunity. And with respect to blogging, the one person I always reach out to for any help/advice is the lovely Shailaja.

16. Cooking can be fun.
I am not a great cook and there are days when I can't be bothered. Back in India, I never made a full meal on my own. But, I love to experiment with food. Dinner time is when I happily enter the kitchen. I put on some jazz music and let the ingredients dance and do their thing! Not a burnt dish till now and some pretty good compliments on my cooking, just saying!

17. Always carry an umbrella.
I should add, When in London always carry an umbrella. Learnt this the hard way. Just yesterday the rains caught me unaware as I was coming back after teaching a dance class. Drenched! And, I woke up the morning with an aching body. Aaargh.

18. It's okay to have duvet days.
There are days when I don't feel like getting out of bed, have chips for breakfast, binge watch Netflix, and only wash up when the sun's gone down. It's okay have such duvet days! Mostly, however, on days like these, I have learnt how to turn my mornings around. When I feel shitty, overwhelmed or breathlessly anxious, when my to-do list is as long as, well long, I leave my home and go for a long walk or a cup of coffee. I come back feeling brave and ready to tackle the tasks at hand! 

19. The need for morning coffee is real.
Yes, it is!

20. Fuel your creativity.
Creativity is all around you. We are always imbibing from the nature, our surroundings, our upbringing, from our fellow artists, from the books we read, songs we listen to, from movement of the wind, waves, the waxing and waning of the moon. Creativity is perception of all these things we imbibe. Seek inspirations around; listen to your mind, body and heart...and just be.

21. Travel & expand your boundaries.
Travel give you the opportunity to connect with your true self outside of things – outside of the expectations, outside of the routines, outside of the normal. It helps you expand your boundaries, so go see the world or be a traveler in your own city and learn from your wanderings.

22. Surround yourself with women with strong ambitions. Nurture female friendships.
Over the last few years, I've realized how important women friendships are. I never had many growing up. I was the tomboy (a term coined by the largely patriarchal society), the one who was made to feel 'You are not like other girls'. What does that even mean? I wonder now! I am as much of a woman as any of the lovely, talented, strong and ambitious women I know! This topic, deserves an entire post. But, I'll say this for now, there needs to be more dialogue around - women with strong ambitions; women who play basketball and climb trees, and still feel feminine, and not called a tomboy; women who support women; women who refuse to be told 'I am not like the rest.'

23. Romance is not always roses, and love letters and sunsets on the beach.
It is all these things, yes! But when your relationship/marriage advances in years, it is also clearing up after you cook, doing the dishes and giving you space.

24. Breathe.
I have been inculcating mindfulness and mediation more and more in my life this year. I am more mindful of my breaths, deepening and lengthening each breath, at the start and end of each day. And I swear by the 4-7-8 breathing meditation for inducing sleep.

25. A good cry, feels good.
A couple of weeks back, I saw the 1992 movie 'My Girl'. I must have watched it as a teenager; I remembered it in bits. I knew the end, yet, how I sobbed! Right from when Vada learns of her best friend's death to the very last frame of theL film, I cried with big big tears streaming across my face. Twenty minutes of embracing all my emotions, of feeling empathy, of feeling the heaviness in my heart large, it felt good.

26. Change is the only constant.
And with time, with age, and also with the environment you live in, your sense of self and your place in the world also changes.

27. Don't fight your natural tendencies. Don't apologize for them either.
I am messy. I spread out when I work, occupy the whole dinning table or the entire bed. Leave notepads open, don't throw out the receipts, leave my once-worn clothes out hanging on the back of the chair. I am messy. I've tried changing it, felt guilty abut it. But being messy doesn't make me any less. That's just the way I am.
I work best under pressure; like to do things at the last minute. Again, a personality trait I came to accept with time.

28. Always carry a book with you.
I love to read, although haven't been reading as much as I'd like. I do always carry a book when I leave the house; sitting on the tube/bus or waiting for a friend or resting my feet after a walk in the park, are the perfect opportunities to sneak a few pages of reading in.

29. It's okay to compare.
But don't let that stop you from creating/writing/working/doing your own thing.
It's okay to compare; as socially aware people we notice people around us and see the differences in personalities/behaviours/working styles/etc. Comparison is inevitable. But the healthy thing to do when we see what others have, is to change the inner dialogue from "I'm not good enough" to "I'll get there too/I'm on my way to reach their level of ( )"

30. Dance.
Let your body sway to music, to silence, to sounds of nature. It instantly shifts something inside you. Grounds you. Connects you.

31. Have a sense of humour.
Life can be tough sometimes, a good sense of humour can help you sail through smoothly.

32. Keep moving forward.
Above all, keep moving forward. There would be days where you would need to take a step back, to take two steps forward. That's okay. One step after another. One word after another. One client after another. It starts with action. Keep going and don't give up on yourself.

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  1. I turned 32 a couple of weeks ago and trust me, the age never bothers me anymore. Just like you, I have learnt to be and embrace things as they come my way.

    Wishing you a very happy belated birthday. More power to women like you! <3

    1. Thanks Soumya! Belated wishes to you as well! Have a fab year ahead!

  2. I’ll turn 40 next year, and I think it’s exciting! Each passing year helps you to mature and ripen and become more unapologetically you.

    Wish you a very happy (belated) birthday once again! xx

    Modern Gypsy -

    1. Yes! Always always be unapologetically You!

  3. This is a brilliant post Aditi! I loved reading your tips and advice. I’m the same age as you and definitely agree, it’s never too late to start over and try something new. Good luck in your new chapter. I love your photos too! Thank you for sharing <3 xx

    Bexa |

    1. Thanks Bexa! Here's to more women like us, the dreamers...the doers!

  4. This was such a lovely post, I really liked your list! :) and your photos are great!

    Lainy x

  5. This was lovely! I'm glad you think it's never to late to start something new. We all need to get out of the mentality that life is a race. Good luck with your next chapter x


  6. I love this post so much Aditi! Like you, I wasn't too fussed about turning 30 {I am slightly older than you} and while I haven't changed careers, I know what you mean by following your heart and not following the norms. I continue to rebel against some norms. I could resonate with some of the things you've mentioned. Hope this year is wonderful with more lessons and learnings.

    1. Thank you so much, Sanch! Glad you could relate to few points!

  7. I got married when I turned 30, became a mother at 34,quit my Banking job at 36 to chase my passion of being a writer. I'm 37 now and the happiest ever. So age is nothing more than a number. I loved this post.

  8. I turned 30 just a few months go, and Idon't think it has changed me much. I love your lists and there are so many points that made me think.

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes

    1. Thanks Gayathri! Glad you liked it and could take back something!

  9. Happy belated birthday! I mean even though society has its own beliefs, it's not "Do it or fail" - live life according to your schedule. These are some super helpful lessons that you've learned. YES on appreciating what you have. I've been trying to be grateful for everything I have. There are times when we can overlook things but things can always be worse. Hope you'll have a healthy and happy year ahead of you!

    Nancy ♥

    1. Thank you Nancy, for you wishes and lovely comment. Even when things may not be going your way, there are still so many things to be grateful for. Practising daily gratitude truly changes your life.

  10. Did I miss wishing you? :( :(
    Belated birthday wishes and let me start by saying that I loved this post. I am seeing this post very similar to what I wrote when I turned 35. Life lessons don't come with age. They come with accepting who we are and what makes us who we are. These 32 that you shared are so true for each one of us. hugs!
    btw - lovely you! the pictures are as good as you are <3

    1. Thanks Parul! Pic credits go to, Sid! :)
      Yes, can't agree lessons come with accepting who we are.

  11. I absolutely love this! I feel like I need to print or write this list down to refer back to. Such wonderful advice, and I agree with so many of them (although, sometimes, I forget to believe IN them for myself.) Fantastic post.