It’s 2024, and you’re in your late twenties now…

A not so hard look at the treats and tribulations of life in your late twenties.

Shikha Verma
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readMay 10, 2024

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You’ve lived long enough to experience summer afternoons in the 90s, where you slurped on ripe mangoes while playing Tetris in sweltering afternoons. You’ve rummaged through your teenage years, speeding across crowded college corridors with acne, ink, and sweat on your face. At some point, entrance exams steered the course of your life and you eventually learnt to find peace wherever that landed you. Nothing prepared you for an uncoddled world that you’d later see, where trains run past you, strange men heckle at you, the government sends direct emails to you and a multinational corporation pays for your mental health.

In hindsight, you always thought life would be like an early 2000s romcom movie, with sunshine bouncing off of NYC skyscrapers, chirpy background scores following your stilettos wherever you go, only second to be followed by a handsome Wall Street banker who is going to bump into you any second now. While you dawn a sleek bandage dress, that hugs your delicate frame with perfect 90’s hair and laugh off life’s minute inconveniences with a cosmopolitan in one hand and a thriving writing career in another… as you sit in your pajamas in an Indian city with 3 metro lines amidst a colony of software companies, you realize then, that life is not like those early 2000 romcoms. They are now the artifacts of a bygone era that you watch for nostalgia in a friendly enough apartment complex that lets you rent a flat with other.

Sharing life and last night’s leftovers.

They might be your friends, if you’re lucky, or they’re as good as any unknown people on the internet you found on a Facebook group and decided to share a house with. This was another thing they glamourized on television eons ago, young adults coming together and sharing apartments in the big city. What a blast! It always seemed so appealing. It is too, sometimes. Sometimes when you can drown yourself in eclectic music, unhealthy takeouts, some harmless aqua vitae and meaningless banter.

At some point though, the music stops, your guests, if any, leave and you go back to your bed to sleep alone at midnight. You wake up next morning to the familiar tired faces of your friends as you both scrounge on last night’s leftovers for breakfast and crib about the house help. Your relationship is never too close for you to throw tantrums at each other or bawl in each other’s presence. But it’s never too distant to not occasionally let your heart bleed in front of each other, share heart-gutting reels, and secrets from the workplace while eating leftovers from the same bowl.

Fresh wrinkles and old warmth.

Sometimes this leftover feast is interrupted by your unassuming parents. If you thought you were going through a transition in your life, you haven’t taken a hard enough look at them. Their temperaments move back and forth to find themselves right back to the angst and naivety of early childhood. In their youth, they juggled between bedridden parents in one corner of the room and their stupid kids playing Tetris in the other. They were promised a golden afterlife for this. They instead got asked to rest their time away and take their medicines on time. But they still have unfulfilled passions they think about, places they hope to visit, stupid kids who they miss having around.

Both of you argue on calls now, for all things big and small. “You’re not home enough,” they complain. But they don’t understand that you’re only busy trying to build one for yourself, one where you’re not a stupid kid. “You need to take better care of yourself,” you say. They give you a deaf ear, because taking care of oneself is an alien concept they haven't quite gotten their head around. Then between some light-hearted arguments and the warmth of each other’s voice, you eventually end the call. You think that perhaps it’s time for you to take the torch, pave the way ahead. But they’ve held that torch so tightly, they don’t know how to let go, even as their hands begin to wrinkle and veins begin to seep their blueness through their skin.

Apocalypse of the everyday life.

While it seemed like your parents managed to rear a pack of kids and build a conglomerate before any of their hair strands turned white, you seem to have difficulty waking up at 9 in the morning and turning in last night's plate into the kitchen. Maybe it’s not so bad, maybe you’re just struggling to eat a simple meal of carbs, legumes and proteins 3 times a day and go for regular health check-ups every 6 months.

But in most cases, doing the most banal tasks has become a struggle. You need a Chinese well-being app to remind yourself to drink every day and read 200 pages in a week. If you’re fortunate enough to tick off any items off the list, you receive the dopamine rush of having climbed a mountain. A steep one, maybe 600ft. Your ineptness to manage a normal life is what drives a 7-letter epidemic called anxiety. It keeps you up at night contemplating how you can survive a normal life like it’s not the apocalypse and whether or not you will ever find the right person to share it with.

Love is a losing game, almost.

Finding or keeping love at this point is not too dissimilar to a game of musical chairs. Except that the music has now stopped. You might find yourself seated in a chair, the familiar one that you held on for long. Maybe you found a good enough chair just on time. Or if cupid hasn’t been so kind, you find yourself standing alone. Maybe someone stole your chair, maybe you kept wandering to find a better one, maybe it just broke. Either way, you’re standing alone.

In a world full of free dating advice, left swipes and right, a biological anthropologist answering questions about love hormones, and Alicia Keys singing ‘If I ain’t got you,’ you couldn’t feel lonelier when you sleep at night. You are bombarded everyday with pictures of your friends' happy nuptials, of beautiful people that fill you up with hope and possibilities, with those left behind that bug you at night with what ifs, and sometimes with images of your own self that make you wonder if anyone finds them good enough. At some point, in the bygone era of uninhibited rom cons, love seemed unconditional and magical. Now they are set by conditions of if someone can tell two words apart in a sentence, their opinion on a CNN article or that annoying snort at the end of their laugh.

It takes a few podcasts and some paid therapy sessions to finally say cest la vie. You eventually learn to let a stranger in your life. You become kind enough to give them a second chance to change their opinion on genders pronouns, you don’t entirely cancel them in your head when they mispronounce your favorite word, you tolerate their sing alongs to punk rock and eventually see your heart get full when their silly laugh ends in a snort. You are now okay to let them see you ugly-cry, hold your hand even if you’re suffering from sweaty palms and… as you find yourself sitting on your own chair as the music plays.

Guilt ticking time bomb.

When you’re not feeling guilty about unwashed dishes, another country’s war crimes, and being 3 minutes late to your meeting, you feel guilty spending your afternoons simply… resting. With every passing second of your life that you are not spending fostering a money-making hobby, hustling for an obscure passion or making free cash on the internet, you feel like you’re wasting your time. Everywhere you look, you are made to feel as though you have to earn your time of rest or live in the fear of missing out on life. Resting is only cool if it’s on the hilltops of Himalayas or on the beaches of Maldives or any other place that requires a passport and 2-month salary to go to. Or at least those that can give you some pretty pictures.

Affording a rental in a big city and having a job that pays you enough to do that, is never good enough. Because, well, soon you’re about the miss the bus on having your name on Forbes 30 under 30. All you have to your name in the end are payslips, a few kind friends, an almost alive hobby, some mutual funds and a guilt ticking time bomb that’s designed to always make you feel less no matter how much you do.

Forever dwelling in nostalgia.

When you do find the time to rest away, you often find yourself not sitting in front of a cable TV but a random someone’s playlist on YouTube. It’s filled with songs of the past that remind you of family picnics, your high school crush and the time when low rise jeans were cool. You never realized when you started ditching 2024’s top hots for early 2000’s rock ballads during car rides, saw the meteoric rise of the 90’s becoming a party theme and binged on politically incorrect comedies of the past. It’s cozy, comfortable and okay in 2024 to admit that you enjoy all of them.

They remind you of a simpler time and fill you up with the kind of reminiscence that gives a lightness to your feet, as you move around the kitchen, cleaning leftovers with your flatmate, and then hop on your chair to sing them along with your very own stranger. Relax! You’re already down 3 liters of water and 20 reading pages for the day.

Note — All illustrations in this article are drawn by the author herself, who will have quietly turned 30 by the time this article reaches you.

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Shikha Verma
Human Parts

A lover of paws, poetry & pixels. I write about design, art, culture and all the fluffy things in between. Design at Microsoft, IxD at IDC IITB