We’re born and then we die. But what defines our lives is everything that happens in between the being born and the dying. For the first few years of our lives our parents take the pains of celebrating every little milestone we reach – our first smile, first rollover, first crawl, first night without crying, first potty training, fully potty trained,…… Yes, some we wish weren’t recorded for posterity but it is the duty of parents to embarrass their children and the earlier you start the better. After the first few years, the novelty of a new baby fades and life and routine begin to take control and the celebration of milestones decreases.
Sometimes we refuse to see what all the fuss is about and slowly most milestones stop being marked in our lives until we feel that it is truly big enough to be celebrated. We succumb to peer pressure and begin to measure our success with society’s yardstick. As the years pass, the number of milestones that mark our lives, at least to us, begin to decrease.
As we age, we begin to lose the awe and wonder we held as kids for anything. Birthdays that were eagerly awaited and looked forward to all year round are slowly becoming days to detest. Acing an exam or a test, though harder now, don’t get the spot on the refrigerator it used to. We grow more critical of ourselves and only recognise our achievements and feats when it is first recognised by others. Happiness becomes something that comes from outside rather than from within ourselves.
This year has been a very big year for me. I’ve crossed some of the biggest milestones in my life. At the beginning of the year I got done with all my exams, the end of march brought to an end my time as an intern, in June I celebrated 25 years on this planet, in September I got featured on Freshly Pressed, I finished my thesis at the end of October, I got my first job offer in November, I finally finished my Masters in December and hit a 1000 followers this week. These are some of the biggest things that have ever happened to me. Things which, apart from the being featured on Freshly Pressed, will never happen to me again. Hence, the biggest milestones.
Yet, there have also been so many other smaller milestones along the way which I cannot forget and have given me immense joy. Every single like and comment on the blog, every single time that I spoke in German without a single mistake, every job application that I finished and sent, giving my very first job interview, touching down in Bangalore,… These are things that will continue to happen in my life but we give me the same joy as the bigger milestones.
I guess the other milestones are bigger because they bring with them a certain relief. A feeling of “Oh! Thank God! Finally!!”. That slight panic that we all carry in our hearts, a social clock (more like a time bomb if you ask me) if you will, to reach a certain milestone at a certain time is what makes that milestone more important to achieve. Add to that a certain level of difficulty and you have a big milestone. But that doesn’t mean the smaller ones are any less worth celebrating.
The world we live in today is so fast and fickle that we hardly have the time to get a grasp of what is going on, let alone orient ourselves in the direction we want to. There are more upsets and accidents which bring with them so much anguish and turmoil, which is what necessitates a little more happiness. We have become so cynical and critical that we don’t recognise the smallest of joys. Or maybe we do recognise them but just refuse to give ourselves the chance to enjoy them.
I’ve always believed in living life to the fullest and I know I’m definitely not the most experienced person when it comes to how to live your life or even about how life is. But I have realised, at least for myself, that just sitting with a bunch of friends and talking absolute nonsense gives me so much more joy than going on that huge roller coaster at the fair. We’re all so caught up in living the YOLO kind of life that we forget and look past some of the most amazing things that are happening to us.
I still can’t forget that even after having defended my thesis, I felt no different than I had been feeling the rest of the time. I remember saying “I thought this was supposed to feel different but it doesn’t”. And no, it wasn’t because it hadn’t sunk in yet. I realise that now because when I look back on the last year, it’s the small things that come to mind. Finding a way to mount a component on the test bench after what seemed like forever, having lunch with my colleagues, celebrating with friends, roaming around the christmas market with them, hugging my mom and sister after a whole year of not having seen them.
So, here’s to all the milestones, big and small. To what has been an amazing year and looking forward to a new one, which will hopefully bring with it the same awe and wonder as the previous ones.