The Thirty Diary

I crossed the 3- a few months back. I didn’t blog then. And I hadn’t been blogging regularly despite my new year resolution.

If anything has changed, a sense of urgency had crept upon me that I never noticed before. Some days, I lie on my bed, open my eyes and start to think, it’s just another decade before I’m 40, and another before 50 etc. It’s a path of no return. So, what do I want to do with my life?

I am not sure I will find the right answer. But I want this decade to be a process of finding that answer and making it work. I should certainly regret if I never try. For my thirties, I pray for the wisdom to be self-aware, for the clarity of vision in knowing what is important and for the discipline to be focused in trying to achieve my goals. 

There is an interesting Chinese article on Wechat that I read  a couple of months back, <二十几岁,没有十年> by 孙晴悦 . It translates loosely as, “Your Twenties Don’t Hold Ten Years“. There’s a book published by her under the same title, which I hadn’t read. But the article struck a chord:

我们都曾经以为二十几岁是很长很长的,长到好像永远都不会过去一样。或者说,至少二十几岁,和我们生命中任何一个十年一样,它至少有整整十年。而十年,在年轻的我们看来,是一段特别长的日子。
但残酷的现实却并不和我们想的一样。对于大多数的我们来说,二十几岁就好像只有三年。一年在大学里无所事事,睡着懒觉逃着课,第二年在茫然惊醒中海投简历,租房子赶地铁,第三年做着不喜欢的工作,待在不喜欢的城市,在七大姑八大姨的催促下发现都该成家了呢,然后浑浑噩噩,竟然就要三十岁了。
Source: http://view.inews.qq.com/a/20151130A03DBW00

The twenties are not like any other decade. At the beginning of the journey, we see it as a long long stretch of time. Endless. After all, at the age of twenty, a decade is half your living experience. It appears misleadingly as though an eternity awaits you. But as the author said, for many of us, the twenties are just made of “three” years – the first of which is spent aimlessly in the university, the second of which in we suddenly wake up to submit our CVs, rent apartments, rush after the train, and the third is spent doing work which we don’t like and living in a city which we do not want to. Then, suddenly, we wake up from the daze to discover that we are thirty.

And there is some truth to that. Enough truth that I start feeling a sense of loss for all the additional things that I wish I had done if I were given back that extravagance of the youthful decade.

I’m not saying that I hate being thirty. I love being in the thirties – you are at a stage of your life with enough financial capabilities, limited responsibilities, but enough energy,  and gradually growing into your own maturity/style and having a better knowledge of yourself. What is there not to like?

And my twenties were certainly not wasted. I enjoyed university, and unlike many, I love learning and school changed me for the better. My first job both taught me and pushed my capabilities. I met the best colleagues who remain great friends even after I left. I wanted to try teaching – and I did. I got a scholarship and went to do the Masters that I always wanted, at a university that had been the place of my dreams from the time I was eight. After which I decided I needed to structure my own career development and not leave it in the hands of a firm that clearly had a different agenda from yours, and I went on to take up a job in an emerging economy. I also chose a place where I could retrace my own roots.  I have lived in three entirely different cities in my twenties, each of which as I’m fully aware, shaped a part of the personality that I have grown into today. I explored three different career options, and took back something from each experience. I met a boy (actually, may be more than one) who made me contemplate a future together. It would be a denial of the privilege and good fortune that had been blessed upon me to downplay the wonderful experiences that I’ve had in this past decade. And yet, with the wisdom of hindsight and the maturity that time brings, I just wished… I spent my twenties even better.

I wish I had been even more open minded. More disciplined. I wish I had designed my career/work and love plans better. I wish I had more focus and had been more self-aware of my development path. I wish I wasted less time on unworthy people. I wish I spent each weekend a little better. I wish I spent each free hour more productively. I wish I picked up more skills. I wish I had the perseverance and determination to finish up with the lessons and the skills that I was trying to pick up. I wish I took care of myself better. I wish I took care of my family better.

I still do not know where I want to go, but I wish the thirty years old me will take this to heart and bring the message along as a reminder.

Our thirties will still hold mistakes and regrets and remind us of our inadequacies. But may my thirty years old self spend the next ten years in the company of the wisdom gained. Thou shall not make the same mistakes.

– Letters from my twenties. 

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Have you wondered where you’ll be?

Have you? I have.

HBR: Don’t spend your life making up your mind

You spend your life making decisions. Meanwhile, things change. Your values change. Your dreams change. What broke your heart or made your day at 4 is inconsequential at 40. What breaks your heart or makes your day at 40 was incompre­hen­sible at 20. And there will come a day when you would give everything you have left to have what you have right now.

I should be living the moment, and yet I wonder if I’m not having the focus or discipline that I need in making my life work. Life’s all about achieving a good balance. And with all thesis, you need to dissect that question. So what’s “a good balance” and how can I learn to get better at it?

 

 

 

Scent

It was just a whiff as I stood beside him. My heat skipped a beat and the tiniest pause in my words betrayed my surprise. I held my breath for that moment that went on for ever so long. My glance flickered up from the document in my hands into his eyes.

Very surreptitiously, I released my breath in an attempt to cover my misstep. I completed my sentence and  nodded in response to his question. At the same time, involuntarily and in an indulgence of my greed for more, I replenished my emptied lungs with a long, deep and deliberately measured breath.

Be still, my heart.