Why do we attach so much importance to this decade of our lives?
Back when I was a child, there used to be something different about Thursdays.
I was in high school, so it would be a while before school would end. On Thursdays though, school would break after just a couple of classes following lunch. There would be a festive atmosphere all around. So much so that towards the end of high school, the final few periods on Thursdays would generally be the time when people would sneak up to the classes that had already broken up and watch *ahem* educational content on their phones.
The teachers that were supposed to take the classes would run after them. Those of us who were free inside the class would indulge in educational content of our own. In many ways, those were the days, and as much as I don’t like my school, those are moments that I will always cherish.
I would be back home by five. Even under the blankets of winter, I would still have around 20 minutes of evening. And if it was summer, then brother, you better believe that we got up to some shenanigans. Thursday was also the day that a pretty huge teen supplement by a local English daily would come out. It also meant that I would get to sleep in relative peace during the night (even though I had to go to coaching at seven on a Friday).
All in all, life was good. Life was serene. Life was worthwhile. And a big chunk of it was projected into the future.
Fast forward to almost a decade, and I have been re-living those days like crazy. In fact, almost everything I do has been steeped in nostalgia for the past couple of days. It might be because of the lockdown, or it might be because of the general timeframe of things, but all in all, I have been swimming in the deep sea of nostalgia for some time now. And personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The most surprising thing about this is, objectively speaking, I do have more time and freedom now than I did before. Both my professional and personal life are in a better place, and while I am not all the way to the point I want to eventually go, a lot of the things I dreamed about in the past, I have now.
Then why am I looking back to the past?
These days, the day that would be close to those Thursdays would be my Fridays. It is the last day of the week according to my work schedule. Rays of sunlight approach on the wings of twilight, and I have two days of stress-free binging in all the things that make me happy. I can easily buy all the snacks I want with more than enough money to spare.
I can take a trip at a moment’s notice. And most importantly, I have achieved a sense of freedom, the coveted human virtue I have been dreaming about ever since I got to know that older boys can play badminton during winter nights while I had to stay home and study for finals. But even then, I still remember my school days fondly, and regard them as maybe one of the most peaceful times in my life. Why is that?
While a lot of it can be blamed on the socio-cultural structure of our country and how unprepared we are as a nation when it comes to handling the vastness of freedom, a lot of it is universal, and it applies for all the homo sapiens in the world.
First of all, how old are we? Our 20s seem like a big deal to us. After all, we are told that this is the time to make our mark, so much so that it seems like our 20s are the most important part of our lives. And while there is some truth to that, in the grand scheme of things, our 20s really aren’t that much of a big deal. In video game terms, we have barely received access to the second city in a GTA game, and we are yet to make our marks.
And in real life terms, if even 11 years seems like a long time to us, then tell me, should we attach so much importance to our 20s? When we barely learned to fly five to six years ago?
Another reason why our childhood seems so coveted to us is the certainty that is attached with the whole matter. If we include coaching and home studies, we pretty much had to study for 15-16 hours a day then. But since we were mostly following a pre-determined path set up by the divines, we didn’t have to think about these actions as individuals. Whenever we would feel hopeless, some sermons by the adults would be enough to take those away. And all in all, things were pretty certain back then. You do X to get Y. And this isn’t a luxury one has in their adulthood.
Does it mean that it will always be like this? No. It’s like when we started school. I don’t know about you, but the things I feel now are pretty close to the things I used to feel when I started in the first grade. But once I got used to it, yeah, it felt good. No wonder people get settled in their lives in their 30s.
A lot of the doubt disappears, people’s footing on the Earth gets better, and people somehow achieve a balance when they bring back some of that luxury and certainty they had in their early days. So yeah, even though our 20s are hard, we still have to power through it. We can’t go back to the past, as much as we would like to. What we can do is power through to the future.
Our 20s are hard. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. And that’s what the roaring 20s are all about. So we should power through, and take back what is ours, yeah?
Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and an intern at the Dhaka Tribune.