I turned twenty a few months ago, and I’d been dreading that milestone so much, that there was a point where I genuinely considered running away and not telling anyone where I was going – on my own birthday.
In my semi-end-of-teenage-existential crisis phase, I thought long and hard about everything I’d achieved in my two decades in this world. I thought, too, of a conversation I had with two of my closest friends while hammering out the details of a stay over at his place. The dialogue ran thus –
“We can’t wake up later than 10 am, because that’s the time the adults will come back and check on us.”
“Tanvi, we’re adults.”
I never really understood what the big deal was until I found myself facing the reality of having spent twenty years on planet earth, wondering if I’d achieved even half the things I’d planned to since when I was a child. They say the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear. And sure enough, as my 20th came and went by, nothing really changed, except the overwhelming relief I felt when I realized that nothing really Had to change.
I didn’t Have to grow up. I didn’t Have to do anything simply because I was expected to do it. And most of all, I didn’t have to make birthday resolutions to change all my “bad habits” – at twenty years old and still bewilderingly young, in all my worldly wisdom, the only thing I knew for certain was that despite being flawed and foolhardy and imperfect, I was okay with myself.
So here’s a list of nine bad habits I have that I truly love about myself.
1. I often lose balance when I’m tiptoeing the line between confidence and boastfulness.
The world is always bent on shaming us for not being humble enough, but who gets to define the ‘enough’ anyway? I’ve apologized too often for the things I shouldn’t have, I’ve kept quiet when I deserved credit. And now, when I acknowledge what I’m good at openly, if people want to shoot me down for being boastful, I’m okay with it.
2. I overthink things and assume the worst in almost every situation.
While not exactly the best for my nerves, this also keeps me on my toes, and I make an effort to put my best foot forward every single time. As a result of my watchfulness though, I almost never mess up. And even when things do go wrong, there’s the added comfort of knowing they’re not as bad I thought they’d be.
3. I have no qualms about picking sides, even when I know I shouldn’t.
Standing by my own opinion takes no effort for me, and though it gets me into trouble at times, I believe there’s a difference between tact and pleasing people. So if my lack of diplomacy leads to arguments and problems, I’d rather deal with those than compromise with my conscience.
4. I’m selectively compassionate.
I may cry at the drop of a hat when I’m reading something that gets to me, or watching a movie that gets under my skin, or even at non-emotional cat videos on the internet. But death, poverty, and loss doesn’t always move me the way it does others. This doesn’t mean I can’t empathise if I want to – it simply means I have the ability to detach myself from feeling intensely in certain situations, if it helps me keep sane, I don’t see why anyone else should have a problem with it.
5. I like isolating myself from the world from time to time.
I’ve been told how “unhealthy” it is to do that – to go long periods without talking, texting, or hanging out with people. But I truly find it therapeutic to be by myself. I may not even be engaged in typical alone-time activities. I may not always be reading, or thinking, or writing or doing something constructive. On some days, I just veg out on the couch, play some music in the background, and think of nothing at all. Give your brain a break guys, it deserves it. And if someone calls you antisocial, don’t rise to the bait.
6. I don’t hide my awkwardness or displeasure when something upsets me.
You may call me callous, but I can’t gush over a whining child who can’t behave herself in public, or a toddlers who think it’s cute to annoy someone just because they can, or people who casually insult their friends and pass it off as banter. I’d rather bluntly express my opinion than let it stew and breed resentment and possibly spoil the rest of my day.
7. I am fiercely competitive, even with friends.
If ever there’s a situation where I’m pitted against people I’m familiar with, whether academically or for work, I will do everything in my power to emerge the clear superior. This doesn’t mean deliberately sabotaging someone else’s work, but if you’re close to the finish like and someone asks for help, it’s okay to choose not to. Most people forget that they have a choice, and give in to social pressure. But ultimately, it’s a race. And if there’s going to be a winner, why shouldn’t it be you, if you’ve put in the effort to get there?
8. I am selfish, and more often than not without any guilt.
I believe in the philosophy that says ultimately, you’re all you have in the world. So it’s okay. It’s okay not to save the last piece of cake sometimes. It’s okay to say no if you don’t feel like helping someone out. It’s okay to put yourself first, and to stand by your principles even when the world mocks you for them. It’s okay not to have a single fuck to give from time to time, and to indulge yourself and prioritize yourself when you want to.
I’ve come to realise that we constantly live in the hope of being someone else’s first priority. Why can’t we just be our own?
9. I live my life on absolute extremes.
I shuttle between crippling self doubt and overconfidence, sadness and elation, burning dislike and overwhelming affection. I’ve tried very hard to be more balanced, and I’ve come to resent myself for a lot of things that actually make me who I am. So now, I’m done. This is who I am, and these extremes are fundamental to my personality. If you have a problem dealing with it, I’ll walk you to the door, and good riddance.