Several months after turning 30, after over a decade of being able to vote, drive and consume alcohol (except in Maharashtra, where I’ve been legally drinking only since the past 5 years!), I can say I feel like an adult. However, before you jump to conclusions - this post isn’t going to be a rant about the dark side of adulting – the endless chores, bills and to-do lists.
(I’ll save that for a post about the privileges of moving to a “developed” country, i.e. where one is confronted daily with classic cases of choice overload. Choices are abundant e.g. disposing of garbage into the appropriate bin, which of the myriad of highly specific Sunday-quiet day laws to break, what obscure cycling-traffic rules to ignore, and the like.)
Adulting came to me in a big bundle, which is why I am so aware of it having arrived. The same time that I turned 30, I started to work at the organisation I had set my sights on years ago. I also moved to my very own little apartment, in a small (by my standards tiny) town. As I settled into my rather comfortable new job and life, I noticed how easy life could be, if I let it. Currently, my commute lasts 15 minutes at a leisurely pace of cycling. Work isn’t stressful, and though the pay is far from great, I have everything I need (since my needs are quite limited). I travel internationally every now and then for work, not enough for it to be a big annoyance but often enough to break the monotony of the 8.5 hour office workday. I’ve a year’s contract at the gym and with the water supply company, and my peeps in Germany are closeby. My peeps from afar have been visiting.
For the first time in a long, long time, I am not worried about my next move. I am not stressed about what comes next or how to make my next career jump. I don’t have to worry about a work contract that ends soon, a visa that expires or any other immediately impending deadline. I don’t have to bother about someone else’s hair in the shower of a shared apartment, I am confident that its my own. My short commute means I have time and energy, to work out, to cook, to meet people and to sleep in. All of this translates to the fact that I am, for the time being, relatively satisfied.
Saying that to myself sounds sinister, and I am forced to think – is it enough? I cannot remember the last time I did not have the next goal or 3, already on my horizon. Have I become complacent, or am I just enjoying a much deserved time-out? Will I be ready to give up all of this and uproot the life I have built, if a more challenging career opportunity came up? If not, would I let myself be okay with that decision? Or would I drown in FOMO? Is slowing down the first step to giving up? Is my life more like a steady marathon or an intense interval training? Are the goals that I dreamt of 10 years ago no longer that enticing because I grew out of them or gave up on them? Am I being influenced by the Germans, who so value their precious work-life balance, or is this me just beginning to want other things too?
I see equally driven friends settled in other countries still going at it, with no signs of slowing down. I believe that the entire society exerts influence on developing these values – be it through the structure of taxation, work culture, legal rights of employees, general purchasing power, the welfare state and so much more. Yet, I am afraid that these will serve only as excuses to be satisfied with being mediocre. Or is the word “average”? Is an average life good enough, or will it be one of regrets and missed opportunities?
If you’ve figured this one out, keep me posted. If not, well, atleast we know that we don’t know, so I guess that’s what being an adult is really about.