March 21, 2018
Part of being a grown-up is asking, and answering, questions that you always thought you’d magically know the answers to..
As a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I thought adulthood was this wonderful land where you simply wish into existence all the answers to life and everything you need to be happy. The grown-up me can’t help but marvel at my naivete. Now, even though I know I’m one, I’m not quite sure what being a grown-up means. Is there ever a time when you have it all figured out? Or are we all just works in progress, doing the best we can as we go along, sometimes knowing the answers, often winging it? Either way, as we trudge along this journey called life, there are some questions worth pondering over more than others. Here are nine of the most important ones.
Do I want kids?
Regardless of whether you’re with someone, single, or somewhere in between, this is a question that’s going to require a lot of soul-searching and could lead to some painful decisions. As women most of us have been raised to think of motherhood as one of life’s biggest blessings. The ability to give birth is still considered sacred, instead of being seen as a biological fact. In such an environment, it can be difficult to admit and accept that you have no desire to be a mother. An equally difficult realisation can be that you desperately want to be a mother, which, as research has proven conclusively, does affect a woman’s growth trajectory at work – at least in the immediate aftermath. Plus, if you’re with a partner whose desire to be (or not) a parent is the opposite of yours, you might find yourself in the unenviable position to make some very difficult decisions. As you grow, once you know yourself better, it’s important to give this question some serious thought. The answer might change a few years down the line, or you may know without a shadow of a doubt, but you have to think about this question.
Am I with the right person?
This is not so that you ca figure out whether you want to be with this person for life, it’s simply about knowing whether you’re with someone who enriches your life or you’re stuck in a relationship that drains you. As you grow older, you will realise that your time is precious and limited, and you’ll want to guard it with everything you’ve got, so you want to share it with the right people, no matter what the context or framework of the relationship. Whether it’s a fling, a rolling-with-the-punches equation or a lifelong commitment you’re looking at, ask yourself if the person you’re with is right for you for this relationship in your life.
What are my deal-breakers?
Relationships, all kind of relationships, are difficult, and require a lot of hard work and compromise, of course. But they’re also about knowing yourself well enough to draw boundaries and lines in the sand with conviction. Whether it’s a friendship, romantic involvements or professional alliances, what are the deal-breakers you’re not willing to cajole yourself into working around or compromising over. Once you figure out the answers, you’ll also find yourself more focussed and gravitating towards people and relationships that leave a positive impact on your life.
What is my relationship with my parents really like?
Growing up comes with the acutely painful realisation that are parents are not immortal or invincible and will, some day, die. And that we don’t have an infinite time to set things right, say what we need to say and make amends for hurt we may have caused them or they may have caused us. Examining your relationship with your parents, and accepting that it might need repairing can be an uncomfortable truth to accept, but it beats the years and years of bitter regret that usually follow after they’re gone.
Do I care about my profession?
By this I don’t mean the money that you make or your place on the totem pole, but about caring, on a fundamental level, about the ethical and innovation-led considerations that will lead your industry into its future. Do you care about what you’re putting out into the future? Do you care about leaving your profession in a slightly better place than when you started? Or is it something you do to simply earn money. Whatever your answer, if you’re satisfied with it, that’s fine. If not, it could quite possibly make you contemplate changing the course of your life.
What’s my relationship with my body?
We all have little grouses and wish that things were just a little bit different-perhaps the legs could be a little longer, the nose a little straighter and the hips not quite as wide-but that’s not your only relationship with your body. Are you treating your body well? Are you nurturing it with food that will help it survive the wear and tear of the years? Does your body feel strong, agile and ready to work with your mind to take on the challenges of the world? These are the answers that will help you arrive at the true nature of your relationship with your body.
How much do I care about what people think?
Are you living life in a way that makes you happy or are you going through the motions just so you’re not arming people with ammunition to gossip about you. While wanting to fly under the radar is okay, leading a joyless existence just so others can have no objections to it is… Tragic, really. It’s worth constantly examining the motivation behind the things you do-are you doing them because they are of inherent value to you or just to gain people’s approval? Did you take a million pictures on your vacation because they made you happy or just so you could post them on social media and project a certain image for the world to see? Do you really believe in all the things you tweet? Is your Instagram reflective of your real life or the life you want to mislead people into thinking you lead?
Am I doing enough?
One of my greatest fears in life is to die feeling bored and unfulfilled. Feeling challenged and productive is what makes most of us feel alive. With all the resources you’ve been given-both intellectual and material-are you doing enough to make your life a pursuit that is worth living for? Are you doing enough with what you have? And if not, how can you do more?
Am I happy?
At the end of the day, everything you do or don’t do, all the questions you ask yourself or don’t, all of it is in the pursuit of happiness. So every once in a while, ask yourself, are you well and truly happy? And if the answer is no, what is it going to take to make you happy. And no, the answer cannot be a new job, boss partner or handbag, it needs to be about what these things make you feel.