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I have been hearing this a lot this summer, that every thing has a right time at the right age. Studies, work, marriage, children, all fall into a given societal bracket and anyone who gets confused within these, risks losing the best results. I have always been sceptical and at the same time, worried about who sets these standards and why do people follow them? This write up, will perhaps blend into the thousands of articles which have already been written on this subject. I do not plan to write anything unique here, only a little influenced by my own life and how perhaps, social media has taken over the societal pressure mantle in all our lives.

As I write this, I have been swept away by the news of a 22-year girl, who secured the first rank in the 2015 Indian Administrative Services Examinations. In India, IAS is one of the toughest national examinations to enter the prestigious government services. As I read this topper’s news, I vaguely scroll over to her Facebook profile, her listings of award ceremonies and her smiling face gleams back at me. I am amazed and proud of this girl, who has set yet another milestone for many other girls to cross. At the same time, I start wondering at my life and stare back at the 25 years which I just completed in March this year. Comparisons arise, weaknesses follow, encouraging voice says something somewhere, a look in the mirror, a quick look at the IAS exams’ age limit, instant calculation of what to do next in life, impulsive planning to prepare for it, maybe I’ll get to somewhere. Holy, I should not be sitting like this, but start doing something. Before I even realise, I have narrated the next five years of my life grossly based on someone else’s story. Did I miss the right age? What was I doing at 22? Better late than never. But wait, is that my story? There, right there. That is Tina Dabi’s story.

So what makes us follow others’ success stories? The aim to do equally well? I think, it is the plan to not fail, not take the wrong path, which sets such confusions. Not to lose time. Do the right thing at the right time. But, my right time is not fixed. It comes, and goes, like a clock’s hand. Why have we fixed the notion of right things happening only once at a particular period? Why can’t they happen again and again, and perhaps sometimes, not happen at all. Do wrong timings hold no value? They teach us lessons, they make us value the future, they hold us strong to wait for a better tomorrow, they lead us to new trajectories, they provide ink to our stories, they formulate success tales, they even value you more than the good times. I have been told that I’ve wasted time on waiting for the perfect post graduate degree course, but that time is invaluable to me, and it contributes to my story. That was a wrong time, for the perfect plan. Or absolutely right time for an imperfect plan making a better story. Who knows.

I do not have Tina Dabi’s story, but I am writing my own. And the right time to do that is now, or maybe tomorrow. But it is there. And it shall not be dictated by the hands of a society’s clock, but by the consequences of my decisions.

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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