Halt activated

Sunday, July 02, 2023

In the past fortnight, I physically travelled over a thousand kilometers and mentally over 10,000. One (of the many) impressionable thoughts I encountered was all around the marker of growing up. How do you know you're a grown-up or when do you decide you're an authority on something? 

My friend Srijan believes that unless you have mastered an idea or object for 10 years, you cannot designate that role for yourself. Does that mean we are qualified enough to take our lives in our control at 28? A full decade after turning 18 makes a lot of sense but then again, at 31 that idea seems slightly silly because anyone under the age of 30 is unserious and frankly, too young. 

In the past month, I cut my hair short. Like really, really short. Like, I had them when I was 6-7. I remember going to Chandigarh at that age with the same hair and I found myself repeating that at 31, with the same hair. Both those episodes are incidental, and in no way planned. Yet, to a larger idea, it seems like it was always going to happen that way. 

The conversation around my haircut is a long and tiring one. It shouldn't be but somehow it is. We attribute such power to the definition of limited and finite things and ideas that we uproot our entire lives. I used to think I could do it in silos and make it all a grandparent of my idiocy, of never growing up. But turns out, we are entirely capable of doing it in tandem with others too. 

In the last fortnight, I came across HALT, an abbreviation to pinpoint the reason for all our sorrows, which expands to Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Truth be told, I've found myself operating out of these four conditions for far too long to get hot and bothered by it, and yet never complain. Ever since I realized my conditions have a word, I have started to lose my mind and cool a lot more than usual. Again, in silos. 

When I found a few pictures with my short hair and had a chance to reflect, it seemed like a grown-up decision. That I had lived with my long hair all my life and I knew it was time to move out of the comfort of knowing how my hair feel against my skin when I wash them or how long do they really seem when I'm in bed alone. I was ready to embark on the journey, even though I felt my whole life upending moments after taking the plunge. It helped that people encouraged me and even the fiercest critic of that decision (my mum) came around and said I've never looked better. 

In the last few weeks, I've had to discuss some tough life decisions. I found myself offering things to a man I never wanted nor thought I was capable of and yet in that moment I felt so sure and strongly positive about those things I wouldn't change a thing even today. While those offerings are still up in the air given the status between us is unclear, I feel so strangely motivated and grown up about parenting, motherhood, marriage, and even partnership that I have started absorbing those motifs into my life without explaining or answering myself to anyone. I previously held extremely strong beliefs that I found eroded in no time as I mouthed the words, "I'll do it because you are at the center of it". 

At some level, the hurt flows because, like I said, it wasn't enough or good to get a total outcome but I know I have done my best and given whatever I could have. I do not know where life will take us and I am a sucker for definite things. Maybe one day I'll look up and realise uncertainty is just as beautiful as changing your mind and living life knowing results don't matter and that it's fine to live with short hair, regardless of how your self-hood is tied with long, straight and beautiful hair. It's okay, it'll be okay, it'll pass. It'll settle. I'll be okay. 

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