Sunday, July 25, 2010

Achieved everything and still frustrated?

Now in my early thirties, it is time to accept (very hard though) that I am no longer them who define the word 'youth' for a society, and so is true for my contemporaries and here I am talking specially about my Indian friends (My European friends are unbelievably young even in their fifties). We have passed the days of teenage turmoils and quarter life crisis quite some time ago. 

We are leading to the more well known middle age. Late nights are now causing acidity and we (well most of us) no longer can or want to live the life of a backpacker. We have almost achieved or received many things, which were dreams ten years ago. Some of us like me might be lingering a bit but we are on the process, we have got an idea about the journey that is going to be, if there are no surprising unexpected turns on the way. A career/education, husband, a child or two, temporary and for many a permanent space for living are on our palms, and are we happy?

When I look back and search my parent's life at this stage I see them quite satisfied and relaxed as if they are in the middle of a long train journey, where they have no hurry to look for the next station, so they can take out their playing cards and play a bit, munch some home made snacks brought in steel tiffin boxes or can buy a cup of tea from the station vendors. I don't know it was the truth or it is my memory which has only kept the golden sketches. Talking with my parents revealed me that they were also stressed out in their thirties mainly economically. They therefore always searched little windows of fun, picnics, going to relatives in vacations, matinee shows, weekend tours to name a few. But they also said that emotionally they were fulfilled, they of course desired to become the topmost in the office  and go for a world tour or at least all India tour but it was fine if they could not. At least for my mother, home was her job. She sometimes felt empty in a undefinable way but most of the times she enjoyed  doing her job and gave all her intellect, energy and creativity to it. There were only occasionally some grudges on the topic of division of work between the spouses.

On returning back to my present, why do I feel that we are not that relaxed anymore. We are economically quite well off in comparison to our parents (we have credit cards!) but we don't feel true emotional satisfaction. One main reason, we don't have 9-5 jobs any more and working odd hours or all the hours is the norm, if you don't do that you  are stamped as being not serious enough, all work and no play does not bring happiness at the end. Our careers/Jobs are mostly contract/performance based and so we cannot breathe that lightly, we can go global any time which were dream for our parent's generation, but the more we see, we yearn more, either we or our partners or we both are very restless or orientation less to be more specific. 

Unlike our parents time now most of us are family of two workers and one/two kids, but our society still don't have enough consideration or infrastructure for raising the kids while both parents are working (not always just for money but for their desire). 'We don't have time' is the buzz word of today. We feel tired but we cannot relax. We cannot let go. We need everything perfect and quickly. We take holidays and then fill it up by hectic world tour or other schedules. We cannot spend time doing nothing. And for women it is even worse, our mothers told us to study hard, they told us a life outside home will give us an identity, which they thought they were lacking. We listened to them religiously, we studied hard and got a life outside home, but at one point of time we found that in the quest for an identity we are stuck in between dual identities, one who wants to stay at home and other who wants to climb the ladders.

Depression, frustration, high blood pressure, chronic pains, hormonal imbalance, obesity are some of the symptoms almost all of us are confronting already, just in the beginning of our thirties. 

And the worst of all is that we ignore them with full power as it is so unknown of, we haven't seen our parents having these in their thirties so how can we? We don't think that the job style has changed from moving to sedentary, we don't count the alarming increase of eating outs and late nights, we overlook that our social structures have changed from being a family to being an individual. Two working partners after having long day at work rarely take time to sit together and unwind.

Is their any way out? As a parent I don't want to pass this kind of life to my child. I know I cannot switch off the computer or T.V they are growing with and I cannot stop them taking challenging jobs which demands odd or all hours of life. I cannot ban all the junk food around her. I cannot ask my daughter to get only education and no career.  But I want to see her healthy through out her life. To gain that I do want to provide her a speed/quality control mechanism.

I don't know what exactly that would be, I am still working on that, but may be I will try on the lines of learning to wait, expecting little less, if possible ignoring little bit of peer pressure, cultivating a strong hobby to create a distance from work if and when needed, also to use it as a cushion if and when work gets sour.

I am on a trial, but the choice is clear;  a life which has health and smiles in it, little less of achievements and success will do for me.


  1. A thoughtful writing. Your opinions are heartfelt. I like them.

  2. Very well written. Encapsulating the pervading sense of stasis of our generation. You are right, we are slowly moving out of the backpacking mode and into nowhere...

  3. It was a nice reading. Keep it up.
    Overall, I sensed some pessimism about the current lifestyle. I will agree that our social structure and working habits are changing, but I do not know whether it is better or worse than our previous generation. I always ask myself whether I am in a better position compared to the women of my mother's generation ? Considering all the social, emotional, economical factors, the answer is yes; at least for me. She had her generational advantages in some areas, I have some in mine. All in all, I think I am slightly better off than her in this thirty plus decade. God knows it may change in the years to come.
    And I have full confidence in the fact that our next generation will be better than us in their life. The definition of success, achievements changes with each generation; for that matter, life itself changes it's course. May be they will find happiness in something, which is totally bizarre to our generation. I have an undaunted faith in the youth, that they always know what is best for the society, community, country, perhaps the whole world. I have closely and eagerly followed the US election in 2008, ready to volunteer for Barack Obama. I have seen the student and the youth activities day after day, which lead to a history.
    At the end of the day, I just let life take it's own course. Every night, when I put my boys to sleep, I wish and HOPE that they will lead a happier life than us. I hope.

  4. Enjoyed this post :) I think we go through life thinking each stage would be for the better- in school we think college would be better, in college we think office would be better. And finally, when we're there...we don't know where to go. Suddenly, everything is static and it's hard to carve out your own path because there are too many responsibilities at this stage. I already feel a quarter-life crisis heading my way :D I like the honesty in your writing.

  5. Sarmistha;
    Yes it is too early to conclude if our change in lifestyle is better or worse, I only worry sometimes about deteriorating health habits. We have of course much more choices, our boundaries are broader and that brings immense responsibility of making a choice that will work out, and if does not work then to accept that and not to complain. I am very optimistic of the youth (specially of India) they are really working very hard, only that they too are sometimes confused in the middle of mesh of choices they have. I always pray for 'J' that she gets enough patience and strength to swim over the unhappy days of her life!

    Believe me and enjoy the quarter life crisis, it is much more glamorous than the middle age one! I in my life had and still have many situations when I find myself standing on a cross road, completely confused, but then some how things do get managed. Lets see what comes next.