I turned thirty some time ago and honestly, I wasn't exactly thrilled. Nonetheless, I had reasons to be happy, with my super awesome family and friends around me. For me, my thirtieth has been a huge milestone and I feel a lot wiser than what I was just a couple of years ago. Here's a gist of what I've learnt so far. Surely, this list will get updated as I grow older, but so far so good.
1. Academic intelligence does not guarantee real-world success
Well, of course, I'd expect most people to have had this revelation by now. I was a proud, almost arrogant, 'A' grader. Then real life happened. I realised that my pedantic knowledge was absolutely no match for the things that life throws at us. At the most, good grades will get you into a good college. But they will not keep you there, nor will they teach you how to tackle adult life. It's way more important to learn all kinds of life skills than to be immersed only in books.
2. Intention means nothing if not followed by action
You may be people's biggest well-wisher and make all kinds of promises of helping them. And you really, really intend on doing it. But it means nothing if you don't.
3. There is no such thing as unconditional love
A mother's love comes closest to being unconditional. But even she needs you to love her back in return. Everybody loves you for what you have to offer to them. So the expectation of being loved unconditionally is a rather heartbreaking one. Which is also why we need to make time and love ourselves. No one can feed from an empty cup.
4. A heartbreak isn't necessarily a bad thing
Unless you have been forced out of a loving relationship under parental/societal pressure, a heartbreak is actually good for you. It teaches you exactly what you don't want in life. And, it also saves you from a lot of toxicity. A friend used to say, "First love is fool's love" and I feel it is quite true. I used to think people will settle down with their first sweethearts. I've seen only a lucky few follow through. And most people, thankfully, are happy where they are.
5. Failure is the key to success — if you learn from it
Mistakes are our biggest teachers. You can either cry over it or learn from it. The invaluable learning that mistakes provide makes us better equipped to be successful. Which is also why you need to let your child make mistakes. There really is no shortcut to success. You have to do it piece by piece, taking each failure in your stride. Experience beats education — hands down.
6. Happiness lies in the small things
See that idiot posing in front of the Christmas tree at the mall? He's happy in this moment. You could have been too if you weren't so busy labelling him an idiot. By all means, pose for that photo if it makes you happy. Life is too short to worry about looking like an idiot. Also, enjoy your cup of tea, the beautiful flowers, the children dancing, the embrace of a baby, the cuddle of your love. Happiness lies in the simple things. For some of us, this will take some practice. But it will be worth the effort. There really is no need to overthink or be so serious.
7. Growing up means losing your innocence
Unfortunately, it is true. Stepping into adulthood was a very shocking experience for me. I was severely unequipped to face the world out there and got duped several times. Duped by people who said that they were my well-wishers. I used to believe what people said, take things at face value. Not anymore. I'm so cynical I can't even listen to a sob story without thinking, "Why is she telling me that? Why does she want to disarm me?" But the truth is, life makes you so. Now, I trust no one but my close family and a very intimate bunch of friends. Everyone else must prove their worth.
8. Be slow to judge, everyone has a story
It is so easy for us to label people based on what we see on the outside. Most people have been through great hardships to be what they are today. You never know what made them so. Hence, be kind. Everyone needs to be loved and forgiven. You are no one to judge. (Though some people are real scumbags. Do your best to stay away from them.)
9. The only job that money has is to make our lives comfortable
If you give more importance to money than this, you will surely make life difficult for yourself. If you have enough to lead a comfortable life and some extra for emergencies, you have enough. Being insecure and discontented will only rob you of your peace and your health.
10. There's no bigger wealth than health
This one doesn't need any explaining, does it?
11. Sometimes it's okay to lie but mostly it's better to be upfront
If a small non-critical lie is making someone happy then it's okay to lie. But mostly it's better to be clear about your thoughts and intentions with people. There really is no need to be cruel by deceiving them. And nothing lasts on a foundation of lies.
12. Time heals (almost) everything
Time will not bring back the loved ones we lost. But most other wounds will heal with time. They won't heal on their own though. You have to choose to not play the victim. Not let them get the better of you. You have to get yourself out of the rut, and you have to let yourself heal.
13. The lesser you expect, the happier you will be and more will be your gratitude
Expectations hurt. Most people around us aren't even aware what we want from them. So it's better to keep your expectations to a minimum. A life of gratitude is a happy life. When you are grateful for what you have, there is little someone can do to make you feel sad, worried, discontented or angry.
14. The present is called present because it is a gift — and you are not getting any younger
If you keep spending time reminiscing about the past or worrying about the future, you are spoiling what you have now. Time is ephemeral. Enjoy this time while it lasts. Do what you want to now. It may be too late by the time you make time for it.
15. Being drunk is not an excuse for bad behaviour
Until a person is so drunk that they pass out, they know exactly what they are doing. All that alcohol does is make you less inhibited and less coordinated. If someone misbehaves with you and then tries to justify saying "I was drunk," he's lying. He did exactly what he intended to. Such behaviour should never be condoned or encouraged. Also, a drunk man's words are a sober man's thoughts. Don't dismiss them lightly.
16. If a man truly loves you, he won't be bothered by body hair.
It's one thing wanting to be on top of your looking good game. It's another thing to be under constant pressure to look good. If your partner can't see beyond your body hair (or body fat, or skin colour), there's something wrong with the relationship. Such a shallow guy doesn't deserve your love. The one who really cares will tell you, "If it is so painful, why do you get it done? I love you just the way you are." True story :)
17. You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink
It's good to try and help others but always be prepared for disappointment. No matter how hard you try, people will do what they want to do, despite your telling them otherwise. Do your duty, but don't get attached to the outcome. And if you know that someone is a habitual defaulter, it might be better to keep away from their affairs. It is futile trying to change someone. The only person you can change is yourself.
18. Destiny is a real thing
Things that aren't meant to be, will not happen no matter how much you try. And sometimes things will happen as if you couldn't have done anything to stop it. People you love will suffer. You will suffer. But there really is nothing you can do to change it. At those times, it's better to accept fate than to try to fight it.
19. Children are God's biggest blessing
It's only when you become a parent do you realise what a blessing children are. If you feel you can take care of a child, please have one or adopt one. Not only do they fill your life with joy, they also drive you to become much better human beings. In trying to become a good parent, you acquire new skills, discover new strengths, give up bad habits, take up good ones. You are more courageous and driven while also discovering new levels of paranoia and craziness. It is truly the most rewarding experience of life.
20. Most of the things your parents said were right
Yes, it's true. Our parents have learnt it the hard way. So they know what they're talking about. Things that seem ridiculous at 22 suddenly become clear and lucid at 30. Your parents were right indeed.
21. You're stronger than you think
Now that you're 30, you have been through enough hardship to know that you are strong and resilient. No matter what life throws at you, you will always be able to adapt and face it. You've come a long way, and will stay steady when bigger storms come. Just don't give up or lose hope.
22. Laugh and the world laughs with you
This is an unfortunate truth of our lives. People are there in times of need but if you make being needy a habit no one will take you seriously after some time. You have to grin and bear it. No one has ears to hear you whine all day.
23. The microwave and the pressure-cooker are a lazy, amateur cook's lifeline
I'm indirectly implying that I've learnt how to cook. But really, these are such life savers. Don't know how people lived without them.
24. South Indian filter coffee is the best coffee ever
My final verdict on the most important thing in my life! :P I'm an ardent coffee lover and have had all kinds of coffee. And I must say, so far, nothing beats the South Indian filter coffee. Do have it once if you haven't already. Enjoy your kaapi!
This is an edited version of a post that first appeared here.