I’m a Tamil dude in my 20s and it doesn’t feel as great as I thought it would be. If I could go back to my eight year old self, I’d tell him to appreciate childhood as many aspects of being an adult are dreadful. In fact, I’m appalled there actually was a time when I wished I could fast-forward my life 10 years.
As teenagers, most of us looked forward to freedom from our parents, making lots of money, owning our own homes and driving fancy cars. Yet adulthood now seems so glorified. Not everyone’s going to have a problem growing up. But a lot of us will.
Here are 10 terrifying thoughts every Tamil endures as we journey through our 20s.
1. Aging: Maturity is one of the most feared steps one must take in the midst of entering their 20s. Like many growing up in an immigrant Tamil family, I witnessed my parents working hard at multiple labour jobs and sacrificing for their children. As you grow older, you begin to understand and appreciate these sacrifices. As teenagers in high school, many of us committed silly mistakes. Unfortunately, staying in that mindset tends to happen with some people. If you are in your 20s and still committing the same silly mistakes (starting fights, being judgemental, talking behind ones back) there is something seriously wrong with your behaviour that needs to be reformed.
2. Coping with Pressure: Thinking about the responsibilities of adulthood, you can easily burden yourself with worrisome thoughts. Whether it’s finishing university, getting that first “real” job, finding a significant other or paying your mortgage, it adds pressure and makes things appear worse than they really are. Coping with this pressure is one of the greatest challenges many of us face.
3. Losing Friends: Over the course of our lives we’ll make many new friends. But we should never forget the possibility of losing them as well. Although at times we lose them by not getting along, in many scenarios the root cause for losing friends is simply drifting apart – and believe me it will happen.
Some people move away for school, while others find themselves suffocated by their jobs. Starting a family is another cause for losing friends. Family takes commitment, and you’ll see that the time you spend with your friends will decline dramatically. It’s not fun knowing you’ll be wandering apart from friends in the future. But it’s better to acknowledge the reality now rather than feel regret in the future.
4. Faith in a Higher Power: Despite being raised in a very religious family, I’ve always found it difficult to relate to the concept of a higher being. Yet as I grow older, a different side of me has emerged. I’m starting to believe that there really is no harm in being a bit more spiritual. Traditional Tamil culture is heavily tied to religion, and given that it’s a part of my ancestral heritage, it’s definitely something I want to relate to. And when you’re confronted with problems coming from every direction, having religion as an outlet is great.
5. Making the Right Career Choice: Growing up in a Tamil family, it’s common for our parents to push us to explore lucrative career paths. And when entering college or university, most of us have an idea of what we want to do (often to appease the wishes of our parents). Yet many of us soon discover that we’ve set foot on the wrong path. Pursue a career that makes you satisfied and at peace, because if you’re doing a job for the rest of your life and it isn’t something you enjoy, it’s only a matter of time before regret consumes your thoughts. Don’t ever take to mind what others think. Ultimately, it’s your life and you need to make the right choice.
6. Money: These days, without money you can’t do anything. Most of us have to resort to financial aid to get through school, leaving with an expensive piece of paper and a whopping debt when we graduate. Often, that piece of paper is useless, leading to more school and more debt. As you grow older, you’ll realize that with each passing year your need for more money increases as well. Soon after, you discover that your dream house, car, vacations and the lifestyle you always dreamed of can only be had with lots of money!
7. Finding Love: Aren’t we a little too young? No! Time and again, some of us want to wait to find that special someone to spend the rest of our lives with, most commonly because we feel that we’re too young. Others may be fortunate to have already met that special someone – a childhood friend, someone you went to high school with, maybe even that random person you sat beside at a boring lecture hall. Your early 20s will likely be your best time to make a move; as you age and enter the workforce, you’ll be so busy with your career that you may never find the time to meet that special someone.
8. Tying the Knot: As an individual raised in the West, the idea of arranged marriage seems completely bizarre. The thought of spending your life with a random person you don’t know is terrifying. In life we get to make our own choices, so why pass on choosing who you want to spend the rest of your life with? I won’t claim that all love marriages are successful. Losing love, losing trust and losing a bond built on friendship are all common causes resulting in an unsuccessful marriage. Yet in today’s society, I believe that a love marriage is more likely to endure than an arranged one.
9. Buying that Dream House: Many of us share a common dream to be able to own a home. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted a dream house. But we fail to recognize the responsibilities that come with owning a home. And though houses don’t come cheap, what starts off as a dream isn’t always unattainable. It’s well within your grasp as long as you’re willing to work hard to earn it. And as you grow older, you’ll start to realize that you need to hit the right mark on all your objectives in order for you to own a place called home. The world we live in isn’t a fairy tale with a happy ending, and mortgages and electricity bills are only the start of your problems.
10. Regret: Could things have gone another way? One of the greatest flaws of human nature is our tendency to regret. None of us want to face regret, and in the youthful optimism of our early 20s we don’t recognize how this can happen as we reach our late 20s. But it can be averted. Many individuals live their lives to fulfill the expectations of others rather than doing what makes them happy. And the only way you won’t sink yourself in regret is if you do everything according to your own wishes. You should think about how your actions today will impact your life tomorrow; as cliché as it may sound, this is your life. And even if some have things to say about your actions, be proud and don’t wallow in regret. Because you made your own choices and that is something to be proud of for the rest of your life.
I am now an individual opening the gates to another decade. And for every individual entering, running midway through, or rushing full steam ahead to the finish line, be proud of the choices you make no matter how much you may fear what lies ahead.
Get ready for life.