Confronting the big two-five

Hamna Zubair April 15, 2010

KARACHI: A horde of noisy teens interrupted me at a restaurant the other day. The incessant buzzing of their Blackberries and their chatter distracted me.

I was going to tell them to pipe down- when a horrifying realization hit me. I was on the other side of the generation gap. How had this happened to me? I sneaked a peep at the young things sitting nearby, their whole lives stretching out before them.

It wasn’t long ago that I was also just a babe in the woods, blissfully engaged in meaningless pursuits. But now, with the big two-five lurking not far away, I’d become a cliché’- a twenty-something suffering a quarter life crisis. I used to dream of what I’d be at twenty five.

I decided I’d have a high-paying job that allowed me to buy ridiculously expensive shoes and my own flat. I’d have written a novel in my spare time, and I’d have travelled to wildly exotic places in South America. I suppose you can tell by now - I’m not exactly where I want to be. Anxious to know if other people felt the same way, I polled my friends. “Of course I’m depressed,” one said. “Life sucks.”

Another more eloquent acquaintance gently reminded me that dissatisfaction is a chronic problem in consumerbased (read: greedy) societies. I don’t think dissatisfaction, or that irrepressible ache to have done something more, is a problem plaguing only the young though. “I wish I’d done more with my life,” said my grandfather at the end of his life, and he was over seventy.

So everyone feels the need to achieve- but nobody ever feels they’ve arrived. Secure in this knowledge, I’ve recently devised a strategy to help me navigate my twenties, and I’ll share it here. Do more, agonise less. Pick a lifestyle, not a job. Be disciplined about your goals. Remember your humanity. Forget about the finish line.

You’ll get there eventually.