Yes, I know, before you point out that 2020 is not the start of a decade and technically the first of January 2021, is. However, everyone else is doing it and I like to occasionally I like to hop on the bandwagon, so here is my best attempt at capturing bits and bobs of these past ten (nine) years.
I must say though that I’m not entirely comfortable talking about many of the things that happened during this time – probably saving them for a book I would never write – mostly because it’s still too well, personal – yes, I know, apparently I have a filter, but if you ask me in person, I may let you in! Also, I don’t know if I can do a year-by-year thing like what some of my friends did, but maybe I would write it in the context of learnings and even victories. Maybe ten of those?
One: Adulthood isn’t really what I envisioned as a child, but it isn’t too bad after all.
Around this time period, I officially entered adulthood. I grew up mostly in India I feel, (at least the formative adult years were spent there) and the unconditional love I have for the place hasn’t gone away since. It’s funny because prior to leaving for India, I couldn’t stand the idea of India or dosas. But here we are, today, miserably in love with a country that’s making it difficult for all my fellow Indians. Also, I must say that what’s been happening right now has been so too much for me and my non-existent heart that I choose to not talk about it openly.
But moving to more positive lessons in adulthood, as a child, I always envisioned having multiple bags of Perera and Sons shorteats in my handbag. Our school used to be (still is!) next to a Perera and Sons outlet and when my Mum would come for our Parents’ Days (a Parents’-Teachers Meeting) and bring me snacks from Perera and Sons. Of course, this was only in primary school where you could go home with your parent(s) if you wanted to after the meeting and yes, before you asked, Perera and Sons had the same iconic plastic bag they still have. Some of the outlets have switched to paper bags so yay, I guess.
However, I must say that well into adulthood, my handbag is similar to what Hermione Granger carried in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It doesn’t always have food (my car does have biscuits) but there is everything else (ish) in it!
Two: Financial independence is very real.
I know ‘financial independence’ probably sounds very millennial, but it’s what’s big on the internet at the end of 2019 and honestly, I am here for it. Having come from little to no money and having earned and gotten to where we are now with all of my clothes on (no hate for those who don’t have it on, I don’t think it’s my skillset really), is a helluva victory.
A lot of big things happened these last few years. We bought a house, and by “we” I mean my Mother and sister. Renovated it to the little work of art we are so proud of today. We changed vehicles. I got my own car. We paid for a bachelor’s degree for me in India. Both my Mum’s housing loan and my car lease finishes in mid-2021. Also, my sister (she more than I) travelled a lot more these past few years. Yay.to.us.
Three: On that note, we need to talk more about money.
While the women in my family have been working our butts off (I have been half-assing since 2009 and again since 2013), I must say that I started becoming somewhat financially literate only in the recent past. I’m still not where I want to be financially or in terms of financial literacy (the link is only a reference not a goal haha) but I have realised how it is extremely important for us as women to learn about these things. Also, add to that list:
- how to change a tyre
- how to check basic fluid levels in your car
- some basic wiring and plumbing in a household
- get bloody fit and move furniture around like a boss
Four: On that note, being a woman was difficult then and it’s only worse now. Also while we are at it, support another girl out will ya?
I’m not complaining but this is something I have learnt increasingly so especially during the last few years. But Sri Lanka (and my other love, India) is vile when we start to look at how they treat their women. They are mistreated, belittled and still looked down upon for being the weaker sex. There is nothing positive here but it had to be addressed, somewhere.
Also, please support other women. Don’t backstab. Don’t bitch about them. Stand up for your own kind.
Five: Learning is continuous, even the habitual ones.
Yes, I got a degree, but I’m not talking about educational-book learning. I would like another degree and attempted two masters programmes here at home, but I’m afraid I have higher expectations of these things, especially since I want to learn for enjoyment and not really an advancement in career haha. On the lines of education, I must say that I also learnt for the first time to enjoy studying and look forward to going to the library. Our local education has a long way to go.
On a different form of education, I realised that what we’ve learnt since childhood can also be unlearnt if we choose to, be it religion, certain core beliefs and other understandings you’ve had of worldly things. Change is constant really if you look at it. I am (much to my dismay) constantly changing in small doses and hopefully for the better.
Six: Your oldest friend(s) are not your best(est) friends.
If there is one thing I have become over the last few years, it’s an introvert. I’ve also acquired higher forms of depression and made friends with anxiety but we will save that for a later post. I don’t think I was ever very overly extroverted, to begin with, but probably was more extroverted than I am currently in life.
Also over the last few years, my presence on the Internet has being a space that I’ve been more comfortable with and honestly, I’ve met lots of great people on the Internet some in a romantic context and even some whom I would call my closest friends. So if you ask me who is now in my top ten list of favourite people, all I could say is that a) I don’t even have ten people on the list, to begin with, and b) I met many of the people in the limited list through the Internet!
People change with time and friendships and relationships too, change with it. Some don’t evolve together so it becomes increasingly difficult to find common ground. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek newer, more (hopefully) meaningful relationships.
Seven: (Romantic) relationships are difficult and probably is the hardest part of this adulting business.
No, it’s not managing your finances but it’s managing your friendships and (romantic) relationships. Focusing on the latter, growing up, most of us see the real deal right in front of our eyes and then to an extent some it is also shaped by media but when the real thing finally happens and you finally get into (a) relationship(s), you find yourself recovering much like those who are still recovering from after World War II.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that: I‘m not very good at romantic relationships it seems. A few of them have taught me this.
And it’s not upbringing, what I’ve been exposed to or any of that, it’s just me and who I have chosen to be. Sucks, I know and I agree with you.
On another more positive front though, I’ve been so fortunate to witness some of my best of friends get married during the last few years. I’ve been at their weddings, helped them a bit before the weddings and honestly, it’s stories like that are still able to keep me hopeful, no not of a wedding but that there might be someone who will choose to eventually stay. Even for a while.
Eight: Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs are best enjoyed in controlled doses.
I don’t know if I still am in the experimental phase of all these vices, but I’ve had a bit of some of them and I must say, they are beautifully intoxicating and capable of taking away any negative emotion that you might be experiencing. Of course, this isn’t the same for all and sometimes you do go on “bad trips” but I do see the appeal behind these and if you can afford it without stealing anything from home, some amount of vice is always a nice guilty pleasure once in away.
Nine: Grief and emotion.
Speaking of negative emotions, grief was something I experienced for the first time in my life. I strongly believe that grief never leaves us. I watched a video once on it on Facebook but even Nora McInerny’s Ted Talk comes pretty close. I also learnt that I deal with grief differently to others I know. This doesn’t make me special, I think there might be others who resonate with me, just different. I don’t grieve immediately over loss and death, because after all, the show must go on, but instead take sometimes months, sometimes years. Like Nora says, “Grief doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it happens mixed with all these other emotions.” Also, I don’t think we ever move forward from grief that is closest to our hearts but instead (try to) move forward with it by making it a part of what we are growing (up) to be.
On the other spectrum of emotions, I’ve also learnt to become extremely grateful. My friend Umesh also shared this video titled An Antidote to Dissatisfaction that speaks a lot about gratitude and if you have ten minutes to spare when reading this, please watch that video, I cannot recommend it enough.
Ten: We are not ready for 2020 but here we are.
Being the old person I am, the past few years, I saw more sunsets in my life than I had before. I even began taking a great interest in sunrises because it gives you an opportunity to be grateful to wake up every morning. I also now chase a few lighthouses. And mountains. Some of it is on my Instagram in case you are interested.
It’s been a helluva a few years and while continuing to be grateful for everything there was and has been in our lives, it’s often difficult to overlook the times on how we have loved, lost and yet have chosen to move forward. Perhaps the 2020s will bring more adventures, more heartbreak and more grief than before, or maybe it won’t. Maybe it will be filled with all the positive things in the universe and your puke will be rainbow in colour every morning. We are not ready, but no one is waiting for us. So march on, we must.
Happy New Year my loves. Here’s to making it so far.
PS – I have a Facebook page that I’m still not too comfortable throwing around, but want you all to (secretly) know about 🙂 The featured image was taken during a site visit to Negombo somewhere in 2014/2015. My work takes me to wonderful places.