Priviledged 20 year olds

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When I watched the movie Love You Zindagi, I wondered if Alia’s character was mentally ill or just badly behaved. Was she just someone who refused to grow up and become an adult? Because she didn’t seem to have any problems. She had fairly supportive parents, loving friends, talent, no financial issues, had enough men interested in her. Why was she unhappy instead of being grateful?. She sought help. Did SRK tell her anything that all of us have not realised through experiences? He turned her into an adult and when he was confident she had learned to deal with the world, he walked away.

The last part is where it disconnects from reality. People on therapy never get off therapy. How will the industry grow? Most therapists don’t equip their patients to deal with their issues. Very rarely have I seen someone go off therapy.

Let me talk about this priviledged lot of 20 year olds. They all have supportive parents, great friends, financially supportive parents who will fund their sabbatical when things get too rough or career change, brilliant career prospects, are intelligent, date multiple people before settling with the right person.

Everything seems perfect on paper. Except they are not happy, whatever that means. What is happiness? Has anyone seen a truly happy person? Can you recognise a truly happy person? And most of these people are frequent dopers. Coincidence? I think not. They have to turn to drugs to shut down the boredom.

This is a controversial post and will rattle a few people. But at what point is depression just an excuse for bad behaviour or the lack of real problems in life? At what point is the transition from a child to adult so hard that it is more convenient to term it as mental illness? Is this the new generation gap between 30/40 year olds and 20 year olds?

When I was in my 20s, I was focused on being financially independent so I could finally make my own life decisions, spoke up against 2 incidents of sexual assault in college but wasn’t supported by anyone (male or female), stood up against my entire family to marry my partner and the thought of honour killing did cross my mind (who knows how far an Indian parent can go for their honour), lived out of a suitcase for a year in a different town every month, cried after work every night in the initial posting, listened to my mom’s abuses everyday for months over the phone but didn’t let it affect my productivity at work, dealt with bad bosses and sexual harassment at work, lived hand to mouth in Mumbai alone, had a long distance marriage, PCOS.

Real problems? Hell, yeah. Was I happy? There was no time to think. But I was grateful. For a job. For supportive colleagues. For good bosses. New experiences. For a house. For a loving hubby who travelled an entire night to come to Mumbai for 2 days. For my independence.

When you have external problems, there is no time to focus on what’s in your head. Therapy is expensive. What do you do when you can’t afford it? Deal with it? Succumb to it? Suicide?

My first boyfriend made me feel suicidal many times. Was I depressed? Or a drama queen? Or unable to deal with the relationship issues and unwilling to move on? Sometimes you can choose the solution. Sometimes it is ok to cry bitterly over something. Sometimes this is part of growing up.

My lowest point last year was in March. It lasted till May. I was staying with a friend while I looked for a place. I didn’t want to do anything. No gym or runs or social media or talking to friends about it. I just wanted to cry and feel sorry for myself. Exactly a year later, things are very different.

You will be happy if you want to be happy. Sometimes it’s a choice you make. And if you want help, you will ask for it. It is impossible to reach a depressed person who does not want to be reached. Trust me, I have tried it. It doesn’t work.

Forgive me if I don’t sound sympathetic or understanding but I just came from an interview where someone almost touched my and my colleagues’ feet for giving him a job on third party payroll with atleast 30% jump in salary. It is a little hard to listen to 20 year olds talk about their unhappiness when every week I come across people who will be highly grateful if they could have the luxury of making their unhappiness a focus. If they are given half the opportunities as this priviledged lot, they will turn around their life, their family lives and pass it on to many, many, many other people. I see that everyday.

My flatmate lost her parents as a kid, she started earning after graduation so she didn’t have to be financially dependent. She is working in a shitty work environment where her manager makes her life miserable. She is overworked and underpaid. Right now she is struggling to finance her MBA because there is nobody to support her. Do you think she has time to ask herself if she is happy? She is working hard to make a better life. Somedays she is happy and other days not so much. That is life. Dealing with it isn’t optional.


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