Turning 30 has been one of the most comforting feeling that I have had. I recall flaunting my age to my friends on my 30th birthday and I received a queer look from them as if something was wrong with me.
Throughout my twenties, I lived with an unspeakable discomfort of feeling older than I was. I used to count my grey hair every time I’d stand in front of the mirror and would secretly hope for them to grow so I could start looking like the image of the woman in my mind.
I imagined her dressed in loose comfortable cotton clothes and mid length hair with some streaks of grey. I pictured her in various settings and imagined a calmness on her face. I saw an ease in her walk as if she was comfortable in her skin.
I think I have always found ageing beautiful and far more appealing than youth. However, I didn’t know that I would have to fight several inner demons in my attempt to become her.
A couple of months ago, I visited a company’s office when I was hunting for a job. It was a cold call as I was unable to seek an appointment. The vacancy I saw on their website perfectly matched with my skills and work experience. After waiting for a few hours, I was finally introduced to the concerned person and I expressed my interest in applying for the job to him. He seemed to be in his mid-20s. After looking at me for a few seconds, he said, “But we are looking for someone senior for this role.” As my work experience clearly exceeded their requirements, I was amused with his immediate judgment without even looking at my resume.
A month later, when I attended an old college batchmate’s wedding, I met my other batchmates. All of them had married. Some even had kids. Most of them had either bloated or changed in a way that made them look older. As I sat with them at the dinner table, I heard them say “You haven’t changed at all” or “It seems like you’re ageing backwards.”
As a woman, I am told that I should see it as a compliment and feel good about it. But what I actually feel is a disappointment and an unsettling feeling of lacking some sort of visual credibility in my personality. Every such experience somehow brings back the feeling of not being taken seriously.
I feel inspired every time I meet young entrepreneurs and others who succeed in such matters by exhibiting higher subject knowledge and by conducting themselves with professionalism. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that I have more time to work on my demeanour to achieve the balance and composure of the woman I aim to be.
Even to this day and age I feel haunted by many bad memories around my father’s habits and reputation. Every single night there were ugly fights at home that often turned physical. Sobbing in a corner, I would hope for the next day to be different but that never happened. Some of the happiest days were when he wasn’t around, and we listened to ghazals and classical music until late night.
When I was in class 3, one of my father’s friends took me out and touched me. After that day, he started visiting us more and it happened every time he visited. I tried to hide when he was around but he would find a way to take me out. I was too small to understand what it was but felt dirty about it. Luckily, a few weeks later my parents decided to move to another city.
It was when I reached class 9 that I understood what it was and told my parents about it. Though my father seemed furious after knowing about it, I never felt any difference in his sensitivities because of this revelation.
During my teens, I felt a constant fear of being wrongly judged as words such as “Your father did so and so” or “You guys are like that” were loosely used on us by relatives, cousins, neighbours and family friends. I remember walking through my school corridors, keeping my eyes below in order to avoid making an eye contact with anyone. I felt that everyone knew what happened at home.
Towards my late twenties, I started reading about father-daughter issues and understood how these issues tend to have lasting effects on one’s personality and relationships. I observed several overlaps in almost every relationship that I’ve had. As I met more people with a similar background and read their blogs, I realised the commonality in patterns of unstable relationships and jobs. I understood that complexity is inevitable in maintaining relationships or keeping a job. I also realised the significance of being observant about overlaps and overcoming them by keeping honest and realistic expectations.