So some of you know that I have this secret annual tradition called the ‘annual mail’, which is my way of saying both ‘Thank You’ to everyone I love, like or admire; and a way of sharing some lessons I picked up in the year gone by. I’ve been writing it every year for the last seven years (new edition coming soon!) but I’ve never made it public, because it isn’t meant to be.
But last year, on turning 30, I decided to put together every epiphany I had in my 20s as the ULTIMATE ANNUAL MAIL LISTICLE. It not only served as a compilation of the many truths that hit me over the years, but a snapshot of the many values I picked up from all the wonderful people I’ve met, loved and respected, and from the many awesome things I’ve been so fortunate in having been able to do.
On turning 31 a couple of days ago, I went back to this list and realised that it also comes in quite handy in reminding myself of who I am exactly and why I have chosen to be this way, each time I can’t seem to understand WHY HAVE I BECOME 30+!! WHY GOD WHY! Seriously though, I just thought maybe just this once I’ll make this public because if this helps me find my way when I’m lost, maybe some of it may resonate with some of you too 🙂
So here goes: the 30 things I learnt till 30:
(P.S. Watch out for the #ProTips!)
(P.S.II. When I wrote this last year, hashtags were still cool, I swear)
1. It’s all about loving your family. Basically, KJo is truth. There is nothing as gratifying as loving your family because at the end of the day, they love you not for who you are, but IN SPITE of it :p. Yes, families are not perfect, in fact they are faaaaaar from it, but a wise man once said in a web series, ‘Rishtey zidd se chalte hain’ :). No one can ever love you as deeply as family so nothing matters more than loving them. Do what you’ve got to do in life, but everything comes after family, home and love.
2. Love is all you need. Suuuuuure, getting laid on Tinder just like that may have its pros (#whatevs #notjealousok), but in the generation of ‘swipe’ and ‘move on’, there’s nothing more beautiful than staying put. And holding on. There’s truly nothing more romantic about finding a person you love and BEING WITH THEM. And committing to them. Because your life can truly never ever suck if you have someone to come home to. (Even if your home is now filled with lamps and photo frames and flower bedsheets, which is totally, perfectly super-duper ok, of course). Truth be told: love is happiness. And so is marriage. #TheBeatlesWereRight #EveryDamnTime
3. Don’t be an Asshole. Yes, life is tough, people suck, shit happens. But being an asshole won’t solve any of it. On the other hand, being kind can make a tough life easier, mean people sorry, and shit less shitty. Here’s a secret: if you are kind, the universe is kind right back at you. If you treat people right, especially the lesser privileged, if you give tips, if you are tolerant, if you *understand*, if you smile at people, if you don’t look down upon them, if you GIVE A SHIT and are generally a not an asshole, Life. Will. Be. AMAZING. (I gave a TEDx talk on the same, cheggitout :): http://goo.gl/HxxYMX) #DontbeaTrump #BeAnObama
4. All lessons you need about life, love, break friendship and everything in between can be found in 10 seasons of FRIENDS. ‘Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna LOVE IT!’#ChandlerBingIsMyHero #GumIsPerfection #UnagiIsTheSecret #ItsallaMooPoint #PROTIP
5. Agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho, toh saari kainaat helps. The universe knows. It breathes. It lives. It connects. And it syncs with you. If you want something desperately, you get it. And if you don’t get it – you really don’t want it bad enough. Or you’re not really working for it (of course you gotta work for it!!!!!) Or you want, like, Emma Stone or something (YOU CAN’T GET HER, SHE’S MINE).
6. Be a Lannister; pay your debts! Be grateful. Your success is not your own, your happiness is because of so many and any time you’ve really got something you wanted, it’s because there’s so many good people who’ve wished you well. So pay it forward! Give gifts, pay compliments, be polite, be appreciative, hug those who matter and tell the ones who’ve been there that you couldn’t have been there without them. And be there for others because someone’s been there for you. Friendship mein SAY thank you and SAY sorry when you need to. Tyrion knows better than the Barjatyas do!
7. Not all scars can be seen.Yeh thoda deep waala hai. The thing is, everyone goes through shit, and all kinds of shit too. Depression is real. Mental health is just as susceptible and vulnerable as physical health. The more you get to know people, the more you realise, fuck, life is tough. Everyone has issues, insecurities, fears, pain. So don’t judge the surface. And don’t compare your life to anyone else. Because they have problems you don’t know of, and you have a support system they can’t dream of. Be kind, be understanding, be human. And DON’T. TRUST. INSTAGRAM. Instagram is a scam!! No one’s *that* happy.
8. You can survive your entire life on paneer and ketchup. #TruthBomb #MicDrop #PROTIP
9. You don’t need to drink to PARTAY. You totally can if you want to, but you don’t *need* to only drink, smoke, get high, or do any society-defined ways of having fun to ACTUALLY HAVE FUN. And it’s not boring or bland or uncool to be your own person. Be different. Be boring. Be weird. Be comfortable. Be your own sabse favourite. Be YOU. Being you is the new cool. And if you want to get HIGH to PARTAY, BRING ON THE SUKHBIR! #OhHoHoHo #BhangraRocks
10. You are never too old to be young. So be enthusiastic, be excited, be childish, be cray-cray and USE EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!! Maturity is a state of mind defined by the life you lead: it’s NOT about burying the child in you. There are a lot of things people can dislike about you but the *stupidest* of it all can be ‘why are you so excited all the time!’ Because LIFE is short and you won’t get brownie points… or actual brownies… for adulting. #SONAACHOSAAREGPHAADKE!!!!!!!!!!!
11. Traffic is a great teacher.Pick a thing to think about, a story to flesh out, a problem to solve, a call (or calls) to make, new music or audio books or stand up or TED talks to listen to, and your greatest enemy will turn into your biggest friend. Your best ideas will come to you during traffic if you have an agenda. #Boom #JustChangedYourLife #PROTIP
12. Who you are is a choice you make.At some point in your life, decide who you are. (By that, I don’t mean fat and cute because you can’t help that.. NO, YOU CAN’T). I mean take out your moral compass and point it in the direction you want to follow, and then FOLLOW IT. You could be Salman Khan or Rahul Dravid and it’s okay to be either. But be either forever (try and not be Salman Khan). Yes, change to get better (and thinner) but your life is going to be defined by the choices you make, and once you have made a choice about who you are, every other choice will be easy AF. Basically, ek baar commitment kar di, toh khud ki bhi mat suno.
13. Choose your friends and work with people you love. Really, CHOOSE the people who are always around you. You’ll make tonnes of friends in life over the years, but choose the ones who care for you, who are there for you, and who are essentially good and positive people. Life is too short to have shitty, sucky friends with bad vibes. It is also too short to spend working for horrible bosses, dumbass colleagues and asshole employees. The most important thing you learn about being happy (and ‘successful’) at your job is to not choose a job, but choose the people you work with. Choose your boss. Choose your collaborators. Choose your friends. And choose the hell out of your workplace (but try to ensure it’s not in Saki Naka).
14. Live your life like you are in an Aaron Sorkin TV Show. Try and live a life of honour, and try and and pretend that everything is happening because everyone else has honour too, it’s just that their honour is different than yours. Try and be like Aaron Sorkin wants you to be. He is ALWAYS RIGHT. #PROTIP
15. Success is a trap. The idea of success as something you get only when you ‘achieve’ a certain amount of money, car, a partner, designation or life is a load of crap peddled by people who aren’t happy themselves. You can be successful even if you are earning zero but have managed to build a family that loves you. You can be successful even if you are single at 40 but are doing something you LOVE from all your heart. You can be successful without doing engineering or a MBA or being a foreign return and you can be successful at YOUR OWN TERMS. AT ANY AGE. Success is about happiness. If you are happy doing what you do, guess what? YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL! Unless what makes you happy is the announcement of Chetan Bhagat writing as a woman for the first time, in which case, beta tumse na ho payega.
16. Everyone is clueless.Screw the ‘norm’. Screw ‘this is how it is’. Screw ‘this is best for you’. And REALLY screw ‘Log kya kahenge’. And DO WHAT YOU WANT, WHENEVER YOU WANT IT. You are not wasting your life doing something you want to do – even if it doesn’t work out. Mistakes are good because you know what not to do, plus you are TRYING! The best kept secret is: *Everybody* is clueless. No matter how old they get… Especially the older they get. No one EVER has their shit all figured out, and that’s OKAY. There is no expiry date to following your dreams. So listen to yourself (and don’t listen to *them*), trust your instincts, and go after your heart. After all, risk toh spiderman ko bhi lena padta hai.
17. Make a to-do list of stuff you’d like to accomplish at the start of the year and spend the year trying to make it happen.There’s something about putting your goals down that gets the universe excited about helping you, and something about cancelling it out that makes you feel like a rockstar. Make to-do lists every month, week and day too, and keep changing priorities so you can have your pizza and eat it too (yes, I love pizza). Of course, you won’t be able to accomplish everything on the list but that’s only because picture abhi baaki hai mere dost! #PROTIP
18. Find the thing you are passionate about and let it kill you (or make you really fat). A life without passion is a life without ‘life’. What’s the point of just existing if you have nothing to ‘live’ for? And if you love your work, it will stop being work! So find your passion and stay inspired. Believe in something, keep sight of your goals, work your ass off, and you will make your own luck. Work hard because you care for something and do it for free at first if you have to. Because when you put your heart and soul into your passion, the money comes.. it has to!
19. REWARD yourself! Rewards are great motivators – they can be a weekend away with the ones you love, a trip with your family, a holiday with yourself, a car you’ve always wanted to buy, action figures that make you go nuts, DVDs and posters and pop culture merchandise you want to own, or you know stuff people who are not me may want :p, but it’s important to celebrate your life. Don’t literally kill yourself working. Take a break from the things you love to do other things you love, spend the money only because you have saved it, do small things that bring you great joy, waste your time in the way YOU want to, because YOU feel you have earned it. You’ll always be excited with life when the rewards are coming from YOU! Take a step back every now and then and tell yourself you are awesome because you are!
20. Be the master of one sin (and the jack of many).There are a hundred different ways you can while away your life (TV, movies, music, video games, books, food, LAMPS) but try and while it away on one thing more than others, so that you are called an ‘expert’ on it and no one can shove it in your face again. Plus you may get to host a show about that thing someday! #PROTIP
21. Sometimes, you need to get lost to find yourself.Failure is good. Failing early is even better. You learn what you suck at (and you *should* know what you suck at), you learn that you don’t know it all, you learn this amazing thing called ‘perspective’ and after a quarter life crisis, you realise that it’s OKAY. That people fail. And then they don’t. Because when things work, you get experience, and when they don’t, you get a story out of it :). Remember, at the end of (500) Days of Summer, there will be Day (1) of Winter.
22. Whenever life sucks, go to sleep early. No matter what, tomorrow will always be a new day.#PROTIP
23. Don’t go full ret**d. Yes, the internet is a great place for you to tell everyone you hate or don’t agree with that they suck balls, but the question is: WHY? Yes, there are idiots on the internet but the truth is, for them, *you* are the idiot on the internet. Nothing ever comes by being a full ret**d on the net so if you want to outrage and change someone’s opinion, do it gently and kindly and in intelligible words and if that doesn’t help, then, in the immortal words of John Lennon, LET IT BE. Change the world by your deeds, not your outrage. The world doesn’t *NEED* one more instant opinion without facts or research or knowledge or understanding. What it probably needs is an annual mail with all the opinions in points 😀 #AnnualMailRockOkay #OutrageDoesnt
24. Think on your own. There is *so* much noise all around us, so many opinions flying around, so many people who want you to believe in their truth, so much propaganda by everyone from media to politicians to your government, that shutting it all out and thinking on your own is probably the most difficult and amazing task that anyone can accomplish. If it’s getting tough to listen to yourself, leave your phone, go off of Facebook and Twitter, do a digital detox, but make sure that your opinions and your understanding of the world comes from YOU. Do not believe every copy-paste on Facebook, every forward on Whatsapp, every video that tries to make you dumber. Think before you share, post, tweet, anything… you can get smarter through a pause before every instantaneous reaction someone urges you to make.
25. Mard ban yaar! Be a man! | Aurat ban yaar! Be a woman! (#equalrights) You don’t have to or need to declare your affiliations or beliefs, but it’s important to stand up for things you believe in, and that starts with standing up for yourself. Respect yourself and don’t let anyone take you for granted whenever push comes to shove. You don’t need to be aggressive to be respected, you don’t need to demand respect to command respect. But unless you treat yourself right, no one else will.
26. Something motivating about being fit and healthy that I will try and learn in my 30s. #PROTIP
27. TRAVEL!!!!!!!!!!Get out of your bed, get out of your city, get out of your country, AND TRAVEL!!!! It’s literally the best thing that can happen to you. There is so much culture, art, inspiration, hope, happiness, life out there that you’ve never seen, known, lived or experienced that you truly can’t be whole without the perspective you get when you travel. Meet people, talk to them, hang with them, share stories, share histories, share moments, live in hostels, live in AirBnBs, live in dorms, live out of a backpack, live out of a car (ROAD TRIP!), just go LIVE. The world is so beautiful and rich, and you don’t need to be rich to travel, you just need to want it. #GoToEurope #EuropeistheBest
28. TELL YOUR STORIES.You don’t have to be a writer or filmmaker to tell your stories. You don’t even have to tell them on a big screen or a small screen or any screen. But you *must* tell your story. Write it on blogs, Facebook statuses, tweets, Instagram it, Snapchat it, or say it out aloud. Make it funny, make it emotional, make it what you want to be. But TELL YOUR STORY. The reason the world is lopsided is because your stories are being told by other people who are representing them in ways that you are not. It is only being told by louder people, or people with money or just people with more balls but perhaps skewed perspectives. The only way to change that is to step up and use the wonderful invention that is the internet, and put your story out there. So more truths, more perspectives and more stories can get out there and *everyone* is represented.
29. Remember to pack your sherwani’s pyjama when you have a destination wedding. #PROTIP
30. Everything is Awesome if you choose your Shire.The reason we spend most of our lives thinking everything is NOT awesome is because of the problem that plagues our generation. The problem of TOO MUCH CHOICE. The previous generations had stuff allotted to them and were told, this is how life is, and they had to live it like that. We have the internet, we have the phone, we have APPS, we have infinite choice, and having too much to choose from is ultimately what makes us unhappy and makes us believe nothing is awesome. So the trick is: find your Shire. As in the Shire from Lord of the Rings. And when I say find, I mean CHOOSE. Choose your intangible. Your Shire or intangible could be having great friends, great love, great family, a great hobby, a great home (SHIRE!), it could be the one thing that’ll always be what it is, that’s worth saving… it’s the good in the world that’s worth fighting for. And when you know what that is, even when something goes wrong in your life, you’ll always have your intangible or your shire, and everything will be awesome!! And just knowing that it’s there, will make the journey awesome, even if it’s towards Mordor, okay maybe not if it’s towards Mordor. So what’s your Shire?
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