I’m in a good place. I’m happy. God has been good to me.
I think it’s time to say this out loud. I was secretly trying to beat my father at this thing called life. I wanted to outlive him. See, my father didn’t live beyond a few weeks of him turning 30. So, thirty was significant to me. Thirty was that number I badly wanted to hit, a hurdle I wanted to jump over, a box I wanted to check. From my teenage days to my 20’s, I always wanted to live longer than my dad both for myself and for him. It’s done and I feel so good. Sounds creepy?
I look back at 30 and see how much I’ve grown. I see a tree that’s blossoming with leaves and bearing fruit. I see blessings that have come my way.
I wake up grateful for the opportunities bestowed upon me. I work for a company that I believe is doing great work globally. I work for a department that makes me feel valued. I work with colleagues that care about my wellbeing. What more could I have asked for in a workplace?
I look forward to each day instinctively knowing it’s going to be a good one. I know I will smile. I will eat if I want. I will take a walk, go for a jog, read a book, watch a movie, play my guitar if I want. I am not held by the bondage of anything. If I want to cook, I will. If I want to lie down on the floor, I will. If I want to have a glass of wine, like I’m having this Riesling Chardonnay right now, I will.
The stars aligned in my favor at 30. I did not lack, something I say with humility. I didn’t have explosive problems that stole my sleep. What mainly woke me up and stole my joy in the night was an exam I was preparing for. I’d wake up in the night feeling uneasy, afraid of failing. I passed that exam in September.
Yes, I felt inadequate in the early stages of the third floor. I overestimated a situation that in the end didn’t go in my favor. I wasn’t mentally prepared for how it turned out. I felt unwanted like a used paper towel. It felt as though I didn’t mean anything, like I didn’t belong. I felt invisible, unseen like we were in Bird Box the film. My confidence took a blow. Of course, I was broken, insecure, overtaken by a feeling of insignificance. I doubted myself, questioned my ability. I doubted who I was. I questioned my personality. And I must admit I was crashed and embarrassed. I could not recognize myself. Was that really me?
Even though what I was looking at was not rejection, it felt like one. It isn’t that I haven’t been rejected before. I have, so many times. I could write a collection of short stories on my rejections over the last 10 years. I got many scholarship and university admission rejection emails. Some never responded. Girls said no to me. I got visa and job rejections. I learned early that you win some and others don’t work out in your favor. You’d think after all those experiences, I’d have an unbreakable coping mechanism. Nope. The human spirit, however strong it might be, will always be broken by something.
This particular loss was different. I wasn’t prepared for the outcome. Rather, the outcome was delivered prematurely. I didn’t get to process my options. It felt like a Hiroshima and Nagasaki moment. Maybe the gloomy, cold and lonely winter exacerbated my situation.
So there, in those early days of 30 lay some lessons for me. Don’t overestimate your chances or your importance. Don’t live on assumptions. The polls might say something else, yet election day throws you in an unexpected tangent. The swing states might not vote in your favor. If the electoral commission has not announced you winner, don’t assume you’ve won.
As I continued through 30, my expectations became controlled. I kept my hopes and optimism in check. I didn’t have too many sleepless nights over things I could not influence, like the visa office that took ages to renew my documents. I admit I was bothered at times but if it was something I couldn’t change, I let it be.
I became more direct, more transparent about my thoughts, how I felt, what I wanted. And I became fine either having no or low expectations. I played my part and left the rest to whoever or whatever.
I took my chances, submitted proposals and applications. I reached out, asked for help, offered help. The thing is, even if you build walls around yourself to protect you from the harsh realities of things not going your way, there will be things that mean more and you’d like them to swing in your favor. Even though I kept my expectations in check such that there was minimal room for disappointment, I still held onto hope that some things would work out for me. Some did. Others didn’t.
In my final weeks of 30, I cleaned my closet. I took out the clothes I didn’t need, folded some, threw out what had served their purpose. I weighed my options, assessed my positions and took decisions that needed to be made. I sought clarification from people, my boss inclusive. I put a pause to some chapters and closed others. I made peace with the things I could not change. I took my foot off some pedals and let go of doors that didn’t open in my favor.
On my last night of 30, I walked to my bathroom and saw my reflection on that large mirror. I opened the tap, applied soap to my hands and washed them of the things I could not achieve in that year of my life. It was symbolic and relieving.
I picked up my pencil and notebook on whose cover are the words, “Once upon a time…” I knelt by my bedside, reviewed my 30’s wish list, then wrote down my 31 wish list. I said a prayer. Then slept.
For my 31st birthday, I bought myself crispy jackfruit chips. That’s all I wanted. So, I ordered two packs on Amazon. It was delivered in my letter box a day before my birthday, wrapped in an Amazon branded box, my name and address printed on it. I held that package like it was my most valuable possession. I gave myself the gift of jackfruit.
Life is sweet in such small moments.