What will 32 be like?

This is a thought I had about a year ago. I was about to turn 27 and I thought about applying the economic concept of a 5-year plan to my life – what would life be like in five years, when I turn 32 years old?

We always do that – dream about the future. But I decided to invert the lens.

I thought about where I was five years ago and how I have changed since.

Comparing my 27 year old self with my 22 year old one makes me immensely hopeful for my 32 year old self.

Here’s what I was like at 22 –

  • In the middle of my master’s degree. I had failed quite miserably in my first year and was slowly gaining my footing.
  • I was sure I did not want to pursue an academic career. Which was a bummer because academia was supposedly my Plan A for life.
  • I knew I wanted to do something in the “policy” / “development” / “social” sector instead. I had no idea what any of it meant or how to even get started.
  • I was living in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and had no close friends.
  • I had anxiety about my studies, my career and my personality.
  • I was slowly beginning to explore a variety of interests. I did theatre and stand-up comedy, and kickstarted a podcast.
  • I had no game. I was as single as STEM students come. This made me sad.
  • I held on to my friends from school and college. They were my lighthouse in the stormy seas.
  • I wrote a lot of poetry around that time. This made me think I could become a writer. Which further disillusioned me about my career.
  • I was incredibly annoyed with the world order. Everything looked like a mess. In India particularly.
  • I felt like I didn’t deserve to be living in Switzerland. I thought I had scraped through the admissions process because of an error. Imposter syndrome was big.
  • I was living in the middle of Western Europe but couldn’t afford to have an enjoyable holiday because of my self-imposed austerity measures. And because I was a lonely boy with anxiety.

I am painting quite a bleak picture here but trust me it’s not far from the truth. Yes, I continue to feel anxious, I haven’t mystically rewired my brain entirely. But an average day today is easily 200% better than an average day in 2016.

I moved back to India a year later and started working in the education sector. I was living in Delhi again. All my friends and family were close by. I regained my confidence in life. Having that “foreign university” branding helped. I found incredible mentors at my workplace who shaped me as a human and a worker. My anxieties about life started to recede as I could reflect and philosophise in the safe company of my friends. I read a lot of non-fiction. I built a more levelled understanding of the world through books and conversations.

I was going out, meeting very interesting people, dating, making progress in my career, learning new skills, expanding my old skills, getting a clearer understanding of what I wanted from my life.

Of course, there were setbacks. I lost my dad, I had my heart broken, I wasn’t making much money. But I was generally in a better mental space to be able to deal with these setbacks with relative ease.

The gist is – I feel like I have grown and achieved so much in the last five years that even if the rate of growth declines or plateaus, I feel I’d still be in a pretty good shape at 32.

This excites me. I look forward to seeing how life changes over the next five years.

Plus, from what I read online, people keep saying that your 30s are like your 20s with more money and less anxiety. And for the last few years, my brother’s been saying “32 is the new 28”. Sounds curiously fun to me to be honest.

What do you think? Have you reflected on your life like this too?

Let me know! Email / text is the way.

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Last modified: Mar 20, 2022