A few weeks ago my husband and I went to a live comedy show featuring Jerry Seinfeld. The opening act was performed by a close friend of Jerry’s, Larry Miller. ( I feel like Seinfeld needs no hyperlink, and Miller is quite famous too, I just didn’t know his name.) Anyway, both comedians were hilarious- we were definitely laughing the entire time, and once in a while exchanging bashful looks that indicated all too well the feeling of “yep, that sounds about right” at any joke aimed at the “husband-wife operation.”
There was one point in the show, however, where I thought I was having an existential crisis. Both Miller and Seinfeld made jokes about aging, Miller talking about how we phrase the aging process- for example, “turning 30” or “pushing 40.” The way we talk about it makes it seem like we’re talking about something bad happening which is beyond our control, indicating that our attitudes towards aging aren’t very positive. Seinfeld mentioned the irony of human evolution- how at the peak of intelligence after we are finally walking upright as a species, our biggest concern is finding a seat to place our cushiony bottoms wherever we go.
Which got me thinking, aging wouldn’t be so bad if we did more with our time than count our days or fret about how best to be comfortable. Aging could be a way to measure our achievements. I don’t feel sad at approaching 30- the third decade is where a lot of important milestones happen which indicate that people have grown up, matured, made good decisions- things like having a baby, buying a house, or buying a car. Some people are even well on their way in their late twenties. Why then the existential crisis?
I didn’t feel like I had done enough things in my twenties just yet for me to be proud of anything. I was telling this to Pathik last night when he reminded me of one of my favorite quotes which you may have read somewhere else on this site but here it is again: “Looking for the extraordinary outside of daily activities is like pushing aside waves to look for water.” Life has definitely given me plenty to be grateful for so I am not unhappy in that regard, but I shouldn’t downplay my achievements thus far. They are all important, even if they’re not as glamorous as other people’s- like Pathik starting his own graphic design company before he turned 25.
Here is my own mental exercise in listing things that I am grateful for which led me to many achievements, not so I can brag about them, but to remind myself of all these things which make up part of who I am and will give me the confidence to shape my future the way I want it to be:
1. My mom always encouraged me to dance when I was really young, and taught me the joys of dancing/listening to music, especially that of the Indian culture. It has been her influence which has allowed me to pursue competitive dance as I have gotten older, and be in tune with my Indian background through dance.
2. My dad always told me stories about how he was a successful performance artist, acting in school plays and such, but also how he would be involved in student groups and use his knack for public speaking to advocate for student rights. His stories have inspired me to act in school plays and given me the confidence to write and perform some empowering motivational speeches in high school.
3. I was blessed to find my life partner in college, and blessed to have time to spend with him before we got married. I was also blessed that he is so creative and also very organized, and that with his help I was able to plan and execute a wedding for 500 people that was very memorable and enjoyable.
4. I’ve been lucky enough to have a younger sister, and I have been lucky to have a close relationship with her even though she is six years younger than me. I’m grateful that as she has gotten older we have become more likely to friends than me playing the role of her older sister, and I look forward to being there for each other through thick and thin.
5. Even though it was not easy to move in with people I did not know, I am grateful that I had the chance to get to know my in-laws better and build a good relationship with them by living with them before moving to Indy.
6. I miss my family and friends in Chicago, but I have really enjoyed the chance to create a new home with Pathik and figure out what it truly means to rely on each other for warmth, comfort, happiness.
7. I work hard in my career, but I am lucky that my effort has been matched with great professional development and learning opportunities at all my jobs, and that my work environment has been very supportive.
Again, my point is not to brag but to remind myself that I have been given so many opportunities in life to make golden, and to turn into great memories which I should not undermine. Thinking about these things definitely helped me feel better after the show- I was laughing the entire time but the joke behind this context was always in the back of my mind. I think everyone should do this mental exercise, and feel free to share! Your thoughts may put things in perspective for others and help them be more confident.
Here’s to not just turning 30 in a few years, but embracing each and every day until then as my own canvas to be mindful, be positive, be grateful, be happy.