On Wednesday, my mom called me and we chatted. As she rounded up the call, she said, ‘Happy birthday in advance’ and then asked, ‘How old will you be sef?’ (Trust me, this was a genuine question). I said, ‘22 years old’ and I could hear a really short pause. Then she said in a concerned voice, ‘So what are you doing about marriage? At 22 years old, I had given birth to your brother.’ To be honest, I was amused. In my head I thought, ‘Ah-ha Boro! Now, you can join the queue of ladies at Please-Tell-My-Parents-To-Stop-Pressuring-Me Lamentations Centre. How nice!’
But I laughed and replied my mom, ‘I don’t know.’
Somehow (and I don’t know how), I expected the conversation to end there, but she said, ‘You should start planning to get married at 23.’ I could not stop the laughter that erupted from my belly. I replied, ‘How will that happen? I’m not even in a relationship. And it’s not in my life plan to ask a man to marry me. So how?’ Then, my mom lurched into a full-fledged talk about Believing, Breastfeeding and Lactating (trust me, you don’t want to know).
As I think over my conversation with my mom, I remember a Tedx Talk I watched earlier this year by Dan Gilbert on the ‘Psychology of Your Future Self.’ He postulated in the talk that a lot of people underestimate the amount of change they will experience, not just in the future as a far distance, but in the near future. He says our present illusions definitely hinder us from predicting our future happiness because we underestimate the certainty of change. I thought about this after my conversation with my mom because as at my last birthday, there was no way I would have anticipated that I would be asking my mother Mary-sounding questions; RE: How will that happen? I’m not even in a relationship. But here we are, receiving breastfeeding lectures.
I think that maybe Dan Gilbert was right. Maybe there is a lot of change waiting for us in the future, and maybe there is a lot of future in the next few seconds. Maybe we really do underestimate how flexible this journey called life is. Maybe there’s shocking bends and exciting twists just waiting for us around the corner or maybe even after a thousand miles.
But I’m afraid that’s a little too ‘not enough’ for me; too many maybes too. I know (on good authority, really) that there’s a further Psychology of Your Future Self that deals with being certain of certain things. I believe that one step after understanding that change will occur in the future is outsmarting the surprise it comes with. (And no, this is not by saying to yourself, ‘I will not let myself be surprised by anything that happens in my life’, because really, who on earth are you to control your emotional reflexes?) But it is by making goals and plans for aspects in your life and working towards them. Isn’t it better to be on a certain journey and meet a few surprises which would in turn be surprised at (a.) the fact that you sorta kinda anticipated them and (b.) the fact that you cannot dwell on them too long because you sorta kinda have somewhere you have to be?
It is armed with these two aspects of the psychology of my 23 year old self, that I celebrate my birthday today. (‘Celebrate’ is a lavish word to describe sitting on my bed and studying from morning to night but who’s complaining?). Yesterday, I wrote down 7 things I will have accomplished before my next birthday. I look over at the list with the check-boxes after them and I want to cry-laugh. When I really do accomplish them, then I would be the surprise waiting for myself at the twist and turns of journey 23. And I would really squeal at myself when we meet.
But I will plan towards them. I will do them, by God’s grace.
As an aside (which in reality, is not an aside but the real thing my life consists of), I’m super excited because I cannot wait to discover the underestimations I have towards how much spiritual growth I will experience this new year. In just the past few months, I have grown a whole lot. And if Dan Gilbert sir is telling me that I cannot fully grasp how much change is STILL going to happen to me, then I’m super bubbly with excitement to see what God has in store for me this new year.
I turned 22 years old today and I have 365 days to prove the marriage between Dan Gilbert’s theory and my humble self’s. Funny because, I may also have 365 days to find a man who fits everything I discuss with God and marry him. Not funny because, if this doesn’t happen, then it’s 365 days to another full-fledged talk on Believing, Breastfeeding and Lactating (trust me, you don’t want to know).