The Dance of Hobbies Lost.

Let’s talk about lost hobbies and my neglected relationship with Classical dance today.

These days, with being shut in the house, with nowhere to go, not much to do and always being inches away from driving each other insane, social media is the obvious respite. So, as I scrolled through Instagram and saw everyone else bake, cook, make art, play instruments and develop new hobbies I went down the rabbit hole of my thoughts and realised that I was no longer the person with a million hobbies as I had been for most of my life. I had, somewhere along the years, lost my many hobbies. But how, did I get here?

I was a pretty hyperactive kid, on an almost clinical level. My parents knowingly, or unknowingly cracked how to deal with all my pent up energy: Activity classes. I was always in a billion activity classes. You name it, I’ve taken a class for it. Be it arts and crafts, piano lessons, abacus classes, dance lessons, karate, roller skating, I’ve done it all. I left all classes over the years for various reasons ranging from  I was simply getting busier with school and couldn’t keep up with all my classes, I just really sucked and it was a waste of time and money and the ultimate, me or some other kid was injured and it scared our moms into pulling us out of the class.

I don’t regret having lost touch with most of them. Obviously, the ones I was terrible at or didn’t engage with for too long I hardly miss, but I do have some form of sadness attached to the ones I was good at. It comes down to two but majorly one, really. When I was 9-10ish(I think) I had to choose between piano and dance because I no longer had time for both and I chose dance. After all, at the time it seemed obvious, I had invested more time in it, I was better at it, I was giving exams in it and it seemed the only choice but sometimes, just sometimes and in times of lockdown, I wonder what could have been, where I might be if I should have chosen the other way around, maybe I could have played the piano and been happier now. Ah well, can’t change the past, can we?

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So, let us now get into the second but actually major hobby which requires a bit of a storytime about me. I have been dancing since I was a baby, as my mom would tell you but have trained in some Indian classical form from the ripe age of 3. From when I was 5 to when i was 16, I trained in the classical dance form of  Odissi and have given enough exams to be a trained Odissi dancer, at least on paper.

Most of you are probably wondering what Odissi is at this point so let us take a brief intermission to tell you a little bit about it. Odissi is an Indian classical dance form belonging to the state of Odisha and is the oldest surviving dance form of India and perhaps, one of the oldest in the world. It originated in the temples of ancient India and is considered to be one of the most difficult Indian dance forms due to the grace and technique involved and the subtle balance between masculinity and femininity each dancer has to maintain in every piece. This is not just my opinion, but obviously, I am a bit biased towards believing it.

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Now, getting back to me and Odissi, I’ve learnt it for 10+ years, had 2 teachers, given many exams, participated in some competitions, even won some, given even more performances and have lived and breathed the classical dance life, at least before I moved across the country and was entering 11th grade and could no longer keep up with it. It has been 5 years since then. In those 5 years, Odissi has helped me in little ways like being my unique identifier, how choreographing a little piece that got me into the (western) dance society of my college ensured dance stayed in my life, with my general posture and whatnot, but honestly and a very difficult thing for me to admit is that I’ve mostly lost touch with the dance form.

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One of my very few good dancing photos from the pre-good smartphone camera era

There are some factors to why. I really had to study during the last 2 years of high school and simply didn’t have time to practice. All my music was on primitive memory devices like cassette tapes or at maximum, a CD because that’s what most places where we performed or participated allowed. Thus, I can no longer access it and have lost quite a lot in the move too. I was not on social media when I moved as I was a kid and have lost touch with my dance classmates. Most importantly, I did not choose to prioritise it. Then suddenly, a few months ago I had the jarring realisation that my dancing style had changed from doing western over the last 3 years and I could barely remember any Odissi.

I was sad about it, but also, life was busy. I forgot. I was ready to give it up as one of the things I grew out of but then, this lockdown happened. Now, I was forced to confront how much I had neglected something I loved so much growing up and how much I regretted it. I knew it was time to fix the situation and to once again, bring Odissi back in my life. I tried looking up the music online, it didn’t work very well because there are many different kinds of music and I didn’t find the exact one I learnt on, so there was no chance of triggering some musical memory of mine.

I decided on trying to re-learn what is the most basic and simplest dance piece in Odissi, the Mangalacharan. It is a traditional invocatory item, usually dedicated to one Hindu God and having a Trikhandi Pranam,i.e. three salutations: salutation to god, the teacher or guru and the audience. I saw many videos and saved them and will now be embarking on this journey of trying to re-teach myself something I had been so good at and hoping to trigger some old recesses of my memory where all these pieces went and have hopefully survived the attacks of adulthood. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Do you have any lost hobbies you regret? Have you thought about picking them up again? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

What do I write to you?

Let’s talk about what should we talk about today.

I write to you today about my utter dilemma about what to write about. Good heavens, I am sorry, that’s quite the beginning to the post; just throwing you in the deep end, no easing, no warning, nothing. Please allow me to explain as I walk you through my predicament.

Perhaps, after months of nothing, since I am suddenly showing up here now (I have been somewhat around on my Instagram, so do follow me there if you’d like to not be surprised by my sudden and erratic posting:@musingsofawhimsicalsoul) I should talk about what i was up to in these past few months. Since  I last posted in November, that would be exams in December, a very gruelling college schedule January onwards, a concussion(from a kick in the head, so quite the story), all the pre-internship things and my first ever job interview(with Google!) in February, turning 21 in Corbett National Park on a family vacation in March to finally today, April 1st, my last day of (now, online) classes, which gives me the time to write to you.

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Me with my surprise birthday balloons on March 10, it is so crazy how much things have changed in such little time??

Or maybe, I can’t post anything without addressing the current climate and situation that we all are dealing with. The COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our lives, the lives we have already lost, the brave souls in essential services fighting to make our lives easier on the frontlines and just how much it infuriates me to see people not taking this seriously. Should I be cautioning you and spreading awareness about flattening the curve? Should I talk numbers and how anxious they make me as we look at the rising numbers every day from the midst of a 21-day lockdown? Should I talk about the fact that even as I say all this, I am feeling so incredibly guilty for how comfortable I am to be in my home with my family and living life with not much of a hindrance? Should I be asking you to think of the less fortunate, the ones who are affected the most? Should I ask you to donate, if you can, to food banks or to government funds, to aid small businesses, to think of the people in your employ or the ones you take rent from?

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The coronavirus curve we need to flatten, found on the CDC website.

Should I acknowledge my privilege in being able to sit down and write all this down for you? Or, should I talk about how scared I am of the uncertainty regarding our future, where the world we would be after this is over? I am scared of the economy I would be inheriting. How, as someone who is supposed to find a job in the upcoming year and has no idea what will happen with my internship the economic ruination this will bring terrifies me. Or perhaps, my hope that we all are kinder and value each other and just appreciate the little things much more?

Simply put, should I be talking about my fears for our present or the future? Or mundane things like how I am going to pass time now that my college is over? Perhaps, I should be distracting you from all this uncertainty and negativity, bring you my regular scheduled(Yes, I see the irony here.) content. Maybe you’ve had enough of all the negativity and just want to escape. So today, after 4 months of nothing, in the middle of a global pandemic, I ask you, What do I write to you?

THIS POST’S QUESTION: This is a unique post,the entire post itself is a question,so please,tell me,What content do you want to see from me? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 3)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part three of a three-part series on Oedipus. This continues from where part two left off. If you haven’t read the previous parts, do go and read Part one and Part two before you continue here.

Now that the story is done, let’s talk about it.

Oedipus Rex has all the elements of a pretty classic Greek tragedy and is considered by many if not the greatest, one of the greatest Greek dramas ever written. The first in Sophocles’ Theban trilogy, I’m sure you’ll not argue with me when I say that the tale itself is pretty macabre. It has quite a few deaths; out of which two are suicides(Jocasta and the Sphinx), two are natural deaths(Polybus and of course, Oedipus himself) and god knows how many are murders(Laius, his charioteer, other people travelling with Laius, all of the Sphinx’s victims, the list goes on.) There is also a healthy dose of incest, patricide, possible intent to harm an infant, possible indirect infanticide, self-harm and what I’m positive is some sort of sadism(Or whatever you’d choose to call what the shepherd who dropped baby Oedipus off at Corinth, who knew everything did, by choosing to say nothing while Oedipus went off killing his dad and marrying his mom and then turning up at the very last minute to drop his dramatic reveal)

(Some of)The deaths in Oedipus Rex

This entire story banks on one of the most popular tropes of classic Greek dramas; the self-fulfilling nature of prophecies, seemingly triggered by its knowledge. Basically, the fact that the whole mess can almost always be traced to just one integral prophecy. If you’ll notice, whenever one of the characters finds out about the prophecy, they end up taking a drastic step which in their mind is preventing the prophecy but ends up ensuring that it comes to be. (Be it Laius trying to indirectly kill his child and ensuring his child wouldn’t recognise him in the future or Oedipus trying to go away from who he thought were his parents but actually ending up going towards his real parents and the many more times that it happens throughout the story, go on, read it again if you’d like. )

And before you fight me and say that the prophecy probably still would have happened, no matter what, I’ll have to tell you that I know that but still hear me out. What if Laius never knew about the prophecy and chose to raise his son himself and with love and then Oedipus would have at least certainly known who his parents were and would at least definitely not have married his mom even if the first half could not be averted. In my opinion, even the first half wouldn’t have happened simply if the characters did not know about the prophecy. Ah well, we can never know for sure, it is all speculation and it wouldn’t make for a good story, would it?

There is also the fact that if you look at every character, they are all victims of their fates, tied to their destiny. First, there’s Laius, cursed to fear his own child and live with the knowledge that his own child would be the cause of his death. Then there’s Jocasta, cursed to be widowed and to eventually marry her own son and beget his children. Then come, the King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth, Oedipus’ adopted parents cursed to have no biological children and then to be denied time with their adopted child because of his fears due to a prophecy that never referred to them. There are so many more characters to go into but the bottom line is the same: everyone is a slave to their fate. I mean, the apparent hero of our tale, Oedipus has it the worst of all, cursed to perform incest and patricide, cursed because of performing them. Can he even be considered a hero then at all?

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The man of the hour himself: Sophocles

This is something that Sophocles did happen to acknowledge in his play and is considered one of the central themes of his story. I’d like to conclude our sojourn with this myth with the closing line of the play, a common Greek maxim, “No man should be considered fortunate until he is dead.”

Until our next Greek adventure! (Or wherever we choose to go)

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What were your thoughts on this series on Oedipus?Which myth should I do next? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 2)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part two of a three-part series on Oedipus. This continues from where part one left off. If you haven’t read it, do go and read Part one before you continue here.

The Sphinx would ask every person who encountered it the same riddle and upon getting the wrong answer would murder and devour them.(A bit of an overreaction, if you ask me) So, she asked Oedipus the riddle that many unfortunate souls before him had lost their lives to, “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?” Oedipus was a clever man, he thought carefully and did what no one else before him had done; he solved the riddle. I’ll let you take a second to think about it, try to see if your smarts measure up to Oedipus’. If you already know, shush, don’t spoil it for anyone else.

The Sphinx

Here is Oedipus’ answer: “Man-he crawls on all fours as a child, walks on two feet as an adult and uses a walking stick as an old man.” The Sphinx, in a very un-ladylike manner, was unable to handle her ego after her defeat and jumped off the rock it was sitting on and fell to its death. Hurray! The Sphinx was vanquished. Now Oedipus gets his prize! (Yikes.) The throne of his father(who, I have to remind you he killed) and his mother as his wife. Talk about tough luck.

And thus, Oedipus was crowned king and married Jocasta, both unaware of their true relationship and had four children: Eteocles, Polynices, Antigone, and Ismene. He ruled well for many years, with his mom-wife by his side. Then one day, a terrible plague struck Thebes. Determined to cure his city, he sends his brother-in-law/uncle Creon to the Oracle at Delphi to find out the cause for it. Creon comes back to report that is the gods’ punishment for the killer of Laius was never brought to justice. (Just by the way, Oedipus is Laius’ killer. And he doesn’t know that.)

Oedipus then swears to find and punish the man responsible. He summons the blind prophet Tiresias to seek answers. At first, Tiresias refuses to answer but when forced, he points an accusing finger at Oedipus himself. (Damn, that’s a power move right there.) Unable to fathom how he could be Laius’ murderer he decides that Tiresias had been paid by Creon to blame Oedipus and steal his throne. This is where shit, finally, totally hits the fan.

 

 

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Tiresias, the blind prophet.

 

 

Jocasta in an attempt to comfort her husband-son, tells Oedipus that Laius was killed by bandits on the road and narrates the circumstances of her husband’s(her actual husband) death. Oedipus is extremely unnerved by the similarity between one of the encounters he had on the road and his mom-wife’s narration. He is understandably, shaken up and sends for that one servant of Lauis’ who survived that encounter.

Before the servant, however, a messenger from Corinth arrives informing him of Polybus’ death (From natural causes). Oedipus is visibly relieved to hear this as that meant he had evaded the first half of the prophecy(You wish Oedipus, you wish.) but fearing that the second half might still come to be, declines to attend the funeral. The messenger, however, tells him to not worry about that as Merope and Polybus were never his real parents. How does this messenger know that? Get ready for the most telenovela and soap opera-esque twist. This messenger is none other than the shepherd who dropped him off at Corinth as a baby all those years ago. (Mic drop.)

 

 

Oedipus Separating from Jocasta by Alexandre Cabanel

 

 

Hearing this and realising that the prophecy had, in fact, had its way, Jocasta flees to her chamber and hangs herself in despair. Oedipus however, still needs more proof and it walks right in as the servant who he summoned comes and verifies the horrifying truth: Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. When Oedipus realises what he has done, he tried to find Jocasta and finds her lifeless body. At this point, he takes two golden pins from her dress and blinds himself in his fury. He banishes himself from Thebes, as he had promised to do to the killer of Laius and lives a long, miserable, guilt-ridden life, to eventually die, as all mortals do. And with that, we come to the disturbing end of Oedipus’s story. ( For real though, thank all the greek gods we’re finally here. The man has been through enough.)

To be continued.

THIS POST’ QUESTION: This is the story of characters with terrible luck.Who do you think has it worst of them all and why? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 1)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part one of a three-part series on Oedipus.

Oedipus’ story begins in typical Greek fashion, with a prophecy. When Laius, the king of Thebes decided to consult the Oracle at Delphi(It was believed that Apollo, the god of prophecy spoke through the Oracle who sat in the ancient sanctuary in Delphi) on whether he and his wife would ever have a son. What he learned, however, was that any son they have is destined to kill Laius and marry Jocasta, Laius’ wife.

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The Oracle at Delphi. (I found this image at ancient-origins.net )

Then, Laius reacted in a way that would be expected of him, he avoided his wife’s bed and decided to do away with any and all hopes for children. However, in what is truly the ultimate millennial move all the way back in ancient Greece, alcohol got the best of him. Jocasta got pregnant and in 9 months, the drunken mistake(read: the baby) was here.

Some believe that Laius pierced the baby’s ankles so that it wouldn’t even be able to crawl, let alone hurt him. (Oedipus means swollen foot in ancient Greek) This is, however, a pretty disputed fact among researchers. This is also where I remind you that killing family was one of the biggest sins in ancient Greece and you would certainly end up cursed and facing the wrath of the gods. This is why Laius, that little sneak, found a loophole in this whole shebang and instead asked some shepherd to drop his baby off at the mountains to die.

The shepherd, just a regular dude was obviously not quite that cold-hearted and handed the baby to a second shepherd passing his infanticidal duties on to on him. This shepherd, also not an infanticidal maniac and a Corinthian, could not bring himself to leave him to die. Instead, he took him to the childless King and Queen of Corinth, Polybus and Merope, who took the baby in and raised him as their own.

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The Finding Of Oedipus, a 17th/18th-century painting depicting the adoption of baby Oedipus by King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth

So, Oedipus grew up, believing himself to be the prince of Corinth, that Polybus and Merope were his parents and blissfully unaware of the extraordinary circumstances that brought him to Corinth. One day, a drunkard told Oedipus that his parents were not his birth parents and you know, basically his whole life was a lie and all that and Oedipus obviously chose to give a drunk man’s word merit and investigate this little rumour. He ended up at Delphi, much like his father before him(you know Laius, his actual dad) seeking answers. This is where he heard the prophecy that had defined his life from even before he existed: he would kill his father and marry his mother. This is also where the intermission would come if this was a movie.

Then, Oedipus reacted in a way that would be expected of him, he decided to head far far away from Corinth and head north towards, you guessed it, Thebes. Along the way, at one point, his charioteer and another charioteer coming from the opposite direction got into a fight over who had the right to pass first. This little squabble ended with Oedipus killing the other charioteer and person he was carrying, who, surprise surprise, was none other than his actual daddy, the genius King of Thebes, Laius and just like that half the prophecy was fulfilled. Oh and also, a servant of Laius’ was the only survivor of Oedipus’ wrath. Keep that in mind. Moving on.

The Murder of Laius by Oedipus, by Joseph Blanc.

Oedipus was finally almost at his birthplace, Thebes. It was here that he encountered the legendary Sphinx with its head of a human, body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, an encounter that is part of popular lore and is pretty well known. The lesser-known fact of that story is that the Sphinx had been plaguing Thebes for a long time and it had been decreed that the one who managed to relieve Thebes of this terror would be crowned the king and get the widowed queen’s hand in marriage. I’m sure you can guess what happened next but I still have a story to tell and hence comes part two of this story.

To be continued.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What do you think of Laius’ reaction to finding out about the prophecy ? Do you think it is cold or do you think it is justified,given the circumstances? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

Growing up: The Story of my Favourite Colour

Let’s talk growing up this March, as I officially bid adieu to teenage. It’s all about self-acceptance today.

When I was 4 and I just started going to school, my favourite colour was pink. I obviously did not remember that but my mum had asked me a bunch of questions when I was 4 one of which was about my favourite colour and just started school and I found a little notebook with the answers. They were quite interesting actually. I was a big fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (One of the reasons I haven’t still watched the horror take on it. Sorry, not sorry.) There are also many photos of me with a lot of pink things so it is safe to say, that this can be considered a fact.

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Anyway, the bottom line is, my first recorded favourite colour was pink. Then, as I grew up and my interests and personality changed, naturally, so did my favourite colour. My next favourite colour was black. (Dun dun dun.) the very obvious question that must be asked is: why that very sudden and very polar shift in personal taste? How do you go from pink to black? Even in a color box set, those two are so far away?

I think I’ve figured out how. At 4, I started school. In school, I interacted with many people my age and older. I was told that pink is a ‘girly’ favourite colour. I was not a ‘girly’ girl though and I didn’t want to be misjudged on my favourite colour. Most of my friends were boys, I didn’t mind being messy or dirty, I liked sports and I liked to play rough. Does that sound like someone whose favourite colour is pink? 9 year old me believed it did not and since pink didn’t suit my personality I willed myself into making black my favourite colour. It was perfect. Apart from it being super dark to hear a 9-year-old say their favourite colour is black, the adults were always a tad weirded out.

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After that, as I grew up more, I came to a point where I had no favourite colour. If someone asked, I said I liked all colours equally or worse, I like rainbow colours. I thought I was a genius for saying that. This stemmed from the realisation that favourite colours are a childish thing and as a super grown-up teenager, I’m obviously politically correct and so wise, so no favourite colour it is. It was all going great except I realised pretty soon that I really don’t like green or orange all that much.

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As I reached adulthood, I found the maturity to accept, finally, once and for all, that I have many favourite colours but I do not love all colours equally. If I had to choose one, I’d say blue and that’s all. I also like pink and black and purple and yellow. Blue is just a colour that appeals to me right now and is not a statement about me being a ‘girly’ or ‘boyish’ girl or being ‘politically-correct’. It is simply a colour I have a preference for at this point in my life and it is for sure not a big deal.

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I’ve realised that growing up is about being open and accepting of these things about you. The little facts about you like your favourite colour, while seemingly trivial are still important and the only person whose opinion matters here is you. So to my twenties, I take with me acceptance of and joy in who I am, love and pride for all these little details about me, to be able to say my favourite colour is blue because it is and to not let society define my favourite colour. To live with one simple motto,” I am who I am. No apologies.”

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What was your childhood favourite color? What is it now? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Growing up: Roaring 20’s

Let’s talk growing up this March, as I officially bid adieu to teenage. It’s finally D-Day today.

Hello everyone. Today, the 10th Of March 2019 is my 20th birthday. I have now existed for at least 2 decades,240 months,7300 days,175200 hours,10512000 minutes and 630720000 seconds. That is a long, long time. Today’s post is for all intents and purposes, my birthday post, where I look back, look ahead and at now, as well. Let’s begin.

20 years ago, I was a tiny, crying, very red baby just fresh into the world. It was still a whole another century and the world sat on the cusp of the 21st century with many hopes and dreams for the wave of modernity it represented. It was still the 90’s, the era of good television, great music and even better clothing. The 2000s were almost upon us, with their nightmare-inducing fashion choices, still good television and still decent music. It was a much simpler time.

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20 years hence, I am not-so-tiny, still crying, red no longer, very much an adult and already a little bit over the world. We are nearly 2 decades into the 21st century, which is running at such a pace that each decade feels like a century in itself. The world is, in some ways a better place but still, a work in progress with so much left to fix. It is a very complicated time.

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Not much has changed.

In these 20 years, I have learned and experienced so much. I have learned to talk and walk and eat and jump and run and so much more. I have completed 15 years of schooling,2 years of college and am so much wiser. (Questionable)I have trained in dance for 12 years and I’m still dancing. I have been to 9 countries,2 continents and have travelled to and seen a sizeable(yet tiny) chunk of the world. I have read and watched beautiful stories. I have opinions and thoughts and likes and dislikes. In these 20 years, that very red baby has become a person.

Turning 20 is a monumental birthday. It signals the end of another decade as well as of adolescence. I have grown a lot in this decade as well as my teenage years(Perhaps not in height but mentally yes) but I am honestly delighted to say goodbye to my teenage and all the ‘joys’ that puberty brings. I can, however, no longer blame my hormones for my behaviour, which is a tragedy. Thank you teenage, for making me the strong-willed woman I am today.

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20 for me is a birthday full of hope. I am finally entering my 20’s, the peak of my youth, the beginning of the years in which I find the life I will live henceforth. I have no idea where I will end up and this is the starting point. I will finish my formal education( Education itself is lifelong, only formally will I be done), I will get my first actual job(I have actually had a non-paid writing job for a not-for-profit organisation already), I will live in my first house, I may even get engaged and/or married!  How crazy is it that all these milestones of my life happen in just these 10 years!

All these are such “grown-up” things in my head and hence I find myself struggling a little with the concept of growing up around this birthday. I am no longer a “barely-adult” adult, now I am a real one even if I don’t necessarily feel like one. I want to take my 20 years of existing, take the best out of them and take it with me as I enter this phase of my life. I would like some more optimism, as the pressure of adulthood, as well my teenage rebellion, has taken quite a lot of it away already. I would like to know it’s okay to depend on people sometimes, okay to miss people and so great to feel love and be loved. I want to hope and have childlike imagination with responsibility and courage. With all this and much more, I launch into my roaring 20’s, here I come!

THIS POST’S QUESTION:  Are you going to/have turned 20? What did/are you feel(ing) like? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!