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“No Longer Young And Not Really Old” – Welcome To The Quarter Life Crisis!

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By Shalini Banerjee:

Quarter Life CrisisQuarter life crisis began for me from the moment I stepped into my 20s. Suddenly everything seemed to be in sharper focus. Life, it turned out, is even weirder than the chaos of the teenage years. I suddenly realized that I am not young enough to party late into the night anymore, neither am I old enough to command the respect I secret wish for.

Many, like me, probably are in their first jobs right now, having completed education. We don’t have enough experience to go on to a better (dream) job but I am sure most of us are trying to adjust to the corporate life our jobs have thrown at us. Suddenly ‘colleagues’ surround us. Sometimes the mentality matches and sometimes the flow of conversation just washes over me. I am dying to fit in. It had been so easy to carve a niche out for myself with my childhood, school and college friends, what’s changed now? The feeling of growing up and taking responsibilities completely freaks me out, especially when I come to realize that the amount of time it took me to get from the good old 1999 to the perfectly alien 2016 is exactly what I have in hand to get to the science-fiction year of 2033!

I do not fit into the hip crowd of college goers anymore, and neither am I pursuing a serious, fixed career. I have come to realize that the dreams that I had seen when I was in college were all starry-eyed. As the reality seeps in I want to change the world, I want to make it a ‘better’ place. I want to make a difference by etching my own mark in the world.

Most of us are away from our hometown and are trying to grapple with the real world. I, for one, miss home but rarely admit it, hiding the longing behind a façade of bravery and necessity. For those of you who are still in your hometown, I’m sure you need to struggle harder to change life in your own terms amidst those known faces and those familiar judgments.

Overnight I have become a cynic, not trusting people or their judgments easily. When I sit around trying to conduct a conversation, mostly formal, in a flash I reminisce about the times when it was so easy sitting around a broken table chatting with friends, laughing over something inane. It makes me realize how uncomplicated my life used to be, how carefree I used to be. Now, I have started shouldering responsibilities: paying my bills, thinking about tax (imagine! It finally exists outside Mathematics textbooks), looking back to make sure that I have locked the door, or that I have all my belongings with me when I leave the house.

Before, I would simply meet up with friends and then construct the plan of action for the day. Now I make plans to meet up with friends. I look at younger kids and shake my head saying, “Hum kabhi aise nahi the yaar” (We were never like this). Suddenly I have discovered a couple of grey hair in my mane of black cascading tresses. Looking at my old pictures, I shake my head, disbelief apparent at how silly I used to look. Mortality has hit me hard. It is no longer wrapped in the uncertain bubble of the ‘future’. Future has become too accessible, unfortunately.

I feel like Rachael when she said that epic line in that very popular 90s show, “Everyone is either getting married or getting promoted or having babies. And I am getting coffee! And it’s not even for me!” My newsfeed is full of wedding pictures shared by my friends. My family has just begun to doubt my whole “career-comes-first” attitude. The mere prospect of meeting my relatives makes me want to go underground. I am at that age where the mere sight of my alarm clocks sets my teeth grinding and the mere sight of my bed makes me weep with relief. And finally, I have begun to realize the meaning of this line from F.R.I.E.N.D.S, “Welcome to the real world! It sucks! You’re going to love it!”

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  1. Issac

    Just like you facing a mid life crisis and can quite well relate with you..thank you for the article…

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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