10 Things I Did for the First Time After Turning 25
Who says all the fun in life ends when you hit 25?
Welcome to another edition of Be Your Best Friend with Anangsha - the weekly newsletter that knows there’s more to life than just your age.
If you Google “Life ends at 25,” you will come up with 6,53,00,00,000 results — all telling you about how you are too old to do a lot of fun things once you cross the magical barrier of 25.
When I was a child, life seemed to be full of possibilities. Infinite chances that seemed to slowly dwindle as I grew older.
Once I was in my teens and done with school, each birthday felt like another reminder of how I was supposed to achieve so much, but all I was doing was wasting my life.
The early twenties were harder — like an invisible clock was ticking down years until the dreaded age of 25, by which one is supposed to have found a stable job and life partner, and nothing good ever happens after that.
Life felt like a roller coaster ride headed for an inevitable crash akin to hitting a brick wall.
And then….I turned 25 in 2017.
It didn’t feel anything different. There was no crash. My life certainly didn’t feel like it had exhausted all possibilities.
I hadn’t found a life partner. I hadn’t found a job I was sure I would do for the rest of my life. I didn’t have a string of achievements to flaunt. I was the same old me, albeit with one realisation: life does not stop at 25.
In fact, if you try with all your might, it gets even better.
Here are ten things I did for the first time after I turned 25. If you are dreading crossing this “magical” age, let this article serve as a reminder that it is never too late to start on a new venture. As Sabaa Tahir said,
“As long as there is life, there is hope.”
1. Wrote A Book (or Three)
I self-published my first book when I was 26. I was an active writer on Quora before that and used to publish my stories and poems on several different online platforms.
The idea for the first book (a collection of poetry) came to me when my friend Sai asked me why did I think it was okay for me to call myself a writer when all I did was blog online?
This got me thinking: why indeed?
Since I loved writing so much and I wanted it to be my identity when I was older, why wasn’t I already working on books and getting published?
I started working, compiled every unpublished poem I had, and put together a manuscript. Stolen Reflections came out in April 2018, the fruit of my labour, the book that would finally allow me to call myself a published author.
Within the next year, I self-published two more books (and took part in a few anthologies with other authors — but that’s a different story). One of them was noticed by a Canada-based publishing house and got signed up for a traditional publishing deal. I couldn’t have been happier.
2. Made A Public Appearance
I was painfully shy as a teenager. So much, that I chose to stay mum and not raise my hand even when I knew the answer to a question the teacher asked. The thought that I would have to clear my throat and start talking in front of my classmates terrified me.
Fast forward to 2019, and I started attending book club meet-ups and literary festivals in my city. I understood that because I was a self-published writer, people would hardly come to me themselves and offer gigs at literary workshops.
Hence, I got over my fear of approaching people and started shamelessly asking to be invited as a guest speaker to the next event. It was slow initially, but with time, the opportunities grew and multiplied.
I made my first public appearance in August 2019. Since then, I have been invited as a speaker in five talks and conducted two author workshops. If the entire country had not been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have probably attended even more events.
3. Took Part In A Poetry Open Mic
Book reading sessions and author workshops were fun because all I had to do was talk about what I knew best: writing and publishing.
But, when it came to performing my poetry in front of an audience, I was terrified. It is one thing to pour your heart out on paper; it is something else to put emotions into your voice and use every part of your body to perform.
Naturally, the first few times were disasters. I was so scared, I didn’t look up from my phone, and simply read the poem without emoting.
As time passed, I realised that the audience in poetry open mics are usually very supportive. The first few times I was surprised by how they kept interrupting me by snapping their fingers. Only after I watched a few other performances, did I realise that this was common practice — snap your fingers to show the performer which lines you enjoyed from the poem.
After that, I started easing up. This wasn’t so difficult. I was the one who had written those words. Surely, I could perform them too!
The biggest challenges were memorising the words and accepting the fact that I don’t have to be perfect on stage; I just have to be me.
I haven’t perfected the art of open mic poetry yet, but I know what I need to do to get there. That is certainly an improvement.
My first open-mic performance was when I was 27-years-old. Most of the other performers were college students. But that was alright. Everything happened at its own pace. Who was I to deny myself the simple pleasure of letting my inhibitions go just because I was older than the other performers?
4. Started A YouTube Channel
Since then, I haven’t been very consistent on posting, mainly because recording and editing the videos felt like a colossal chore to me.
Only in the past few days, due to a lockdown-induced surge of motivation coursing through my veins, I made a conscious decision that I would post content on my channel more consistently.
I still haven’t figured out what I am going to make videos about, but once you have a destination in mind, finding a path to get there becomes easier, doesn’t it?
So, here I am, almost 28-years-old, getting ready to embark on my journey to conquer the world of YouTube.
I am not under any delusions that I will achieve instant fame. But then again, the point is to create content that can help others. Fame and money will follow if I can keep up the quality and consistency.
5. Recorded My First Podcast Interview
It was in the first few days of March 2020 when I got an email from a fellow content creator who wanted me to be a part of his podcast series.
“It’s called The World Is Ending Podcast where I will be interviewing 21 people from different walks of life in 21 days,” he explained to me. “Since you are a bestselling author, I want you to be my guest.”
The message made me smile. I wasn’t a “bestselling author” per se, but two of my books had made it to the first position on the Amazon India bestselling lists for a few days at a stretch. It wasn’t where I wanted them to be, but this was better than nothing.
And so, I agreed.
On the day of the podcast, I was a bundle of nerves; I picked up the phone several times to call the host and make up some excuse. I could tell him I was unwell, that an unexpected emergency came up, or maybe I had to travel home and wouldn’t have an internet connection strong enough to sustain 45 minutes of an audio conversation.
But each time such an urge overcame me, I put a hand to my chest and patted my heart to calm it. ‘It’s natural to be nervous,’ I told myself. ‘You’ll do great.’
And so, when the host called, I answered. And in a few moments, the conversation flowed so smoothly, that by the time it ended, he said I was the sweetest person he interviewed, and our discussion was the most spontaneous.
To be honest, I was more relieved than happy.
But, was he right or was it an exaggeration? Maybe you can listen to the episode and decide for yourselves!
6. Went On My First Solo Trip
I went on a mini-India tour in December 2019 (Bharat bhraman), travelling to four cities in twelve days.
It was a wild, crazy ride, with 16-hour-long-adventure-filled-layovers, chance meetings with college friends, and planned trips with old buddies.
I spent two days each in Delhi, Surat, Kolkata, and four days in Mumbai. I met some fantastic people and made new friends.
I attended art workshops and watched hours of street-play that took my breath away.
I went to a discotheque for the first time in my life and danced away in a night of debauchery with my new friends.
I met Quora’s Community Manager and a bunch of other people who had read my writing online and wanted to meet me in person.
I walked alone in the streets of Surat and flew a model aeroplane at the IIT Bombay’s aeromodelling club.
I tried local dishes until I couldn’t eat anymore and drank whiskey with a bunch of friends until we passed out on the couch.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said this was the best, wildest, the most fun-filled trip of my life. All this, when I was 27-years-old.
Here are some glimpses of that beautiful, memorable period of my life. I hope such chances to embark on solo trips arise again soon in the future.
7. Started Working Out Daily
I was that girl in college whose laziness was legendary.
There was a time when I decided I would join Karate classes because I wanted to lose weight. My roommate, who knew such a thing would never happen, given my unwillingness to move my butt out of my chair, told about my resolution to my other friends and they had a good laugh at my expense.
I was a little hurt; I wouldn’t deny. But there was truth in what they said. Given the way I was living my life, anyone would have laughed if I told them I would start working out.
This changed when I started my Master’s degree in 2016. The campus of my university was beautiful, and on my 25th birthday, I made a resolution to go for a run every day unless some emergency came up.
It has been three years, and I have stuck to that resolution.
Sure, there have been relapses and weeks when I couldn’t muster motivation enough to work out, but to the best of my ability, I have made daily exercise a part of my routine.
The changes in my body were noticeable: several exercises were physically impossible for me to do three years back (for example the body saw, side plank and crunch, burpees, etc.), but now, I can perform them with ease.
This has significantly impacted my mental and physical health. I feel more energetic, motivated, and my skin started glowing, and my hair became more lustrous. I was also inspired to avoid junk food as much as possible and stick to a healthy, home-cooked diet.
I am not aiming for six-packs or a goal weight. My intention behind the daily workout is simple: lead a healthy lifestyle.
8. Learned to Cook
I lived most of my teenage years at home and spent my college in a hostel. I never had the need to cook until I started my first job (at 24) and started to live alone when I was 26.
Of course, when you are living on your own, you don’t have a guardian to serve your food on time. But it also made me come to some important realisations that I had previously taken for granted, namely:
Cooking is more than just chopping vegetables and making a curry. You need to plan your meals, buy the relevant items, and make sure your refrigerator is stocked at all times.
Even basic items like salt and sugar run out. You have to remember to keep replenishing their supply.
Eggs are the miracle ingredients that can come to your aid when you have no other vegetables or meat to cook. They can serve as your breakfast (scrambled eggs), lunch (rice fried with egg), and dinner (chapattis with omelette).
Cooking ‘survival food’ is not rocket science. With the help of a few YouTube tutorials, anyone can master it. It is cooking like a pro that requires special skills and dedication.
(With this realisation, it became apparent that all the whining I had done all my life that cooking was difficult were nothing but lies I told myself.)
9. Made My Passion A Part Of My Routine
Before 25, I was stumbling along with life, not sure where I wanted to end up, not sure how I should go about deciding that.
After a lot of trial and error, I have come to the realisation that the thing that gives me the most happiness is writing, and this is something I wish to spend my life doing.
That is when I made a conscious decision to make it a part of my daily routine — to write something every day.
It was hard at first because I had so many other commitments that demanded my attention. But slowly, with a lot of effort and significant sacrifices, I found time to include a little bit of it in my daily routine.
This has given my confidence a boost and provided me with ample opportunities to grow as a writer. After all, as Gabby Giffords quoted-
“Pursue your passion, and everything else will fall into place. This is not being romantic. This is the highest order of pragmatism.”
10. Stopped Going With The Flow
Living on this planet for twenty-seven years taught me enough to know that unless you take control of your life and steer it in the direction you want to go, you would end up going where life takes you. And chances are, you won’t like it (because you didn’t choose it).
I have stopped accepting whatever fate hands out to me and started taking control of my life. Here are some ways I took charge:
I maintained a journal daily, using it to plan out my day, week, month, and year. With a to-do list in front of my eyes, I knew where I wanted to go. This helped me take smaller decisions easily too. All I had to do was ask myself one question: which alternative will bring me closer to my end goal?
I started keeping track of my income and expenses and made investments and spending decisions that helped me stop living from paycheck to paycheck.
I learned to identify what limiting self-beliefs I held and how to go about moving past them.
I understood that my productivity was a direct function of the choices I made and dropped the activities from my schedule that weren’t giving me pleasure or taking me closer to my goal.
I understand that there might be several people who have done most (if not all) of the things I mentioned in this article. Then again, there might be many others in their late 20s or early 30s who want to do the things I did, but haven’t dared to start yet.
My message to you is this: no matter where you are in life, it is always possible to take charge of your situation and take a step in the direction. Just ask yourself a simple question: where do you see yourself in ten years?
It is never too late to start. It is never too early to start.
You are responsible for writing your own destiny. Don’t let something as trivial as age hold you back from fulfilling your purpose in life.
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That’s all from my end today. I’ll see you again soon. Till then, stay strong. Keep smiling and be awesome.