Updated: Sep 13, 2022
"I'm in a hurry to get things done Oh, I rush and rush until life's no fun All I really gotta do is live and die But I'm in a hurry and don't know why"
There’s this song called “I'm in a hurry (And I don’t know why)”. It was written by Roger Murrah and recorded by this band called Alabama. It was released in 1992 and it hit No 1 on the Billboard country charts. After that, the song was promptly forgotten but that song is more relevant now than ever before.
There was once this guy named Bobby Fischer. He was an American-born chess master who became the youngest grandmaster in history when he received the title in 1958.
Fischer learned the moves of chess at age six. At age 16 he dropped out of high school to devote himself fully to the game. In 1958 he won the first of eight American championships. He became the only player ever to earn a perfect score at an American championship, winning all 11 games in the 1964 tournament.
But in 1972, he was at the centre of the world stage. The U.S.S.R. had dominated the Chess World Championship since 1948. It saw its unbroken record as proof of the Soviet Union’s intellectual superiority over the West. But in 1972, Fischer would unseat the USSR’s greatest chess master, reigning world chess champion Boris Spassky in what was known as the greatest game of chess ever played.
Some say there has never been a chess player as great as Bobby Fischer. To this day, his games are scrutinized and studied. He has been likened to a computer with no noticeable weaknesses, or, as one Russian grandmaster described him, as “an Achilles without an Achilles heel.”
Everyone in their 20s seems to be in a hurry these days. Get rich quick, travel to 100 countries before 30, have a million followers on Instagram, hustle, hustle hustle.
Ironically, this was me in my 20s.
My twenties were a glorious decade for me. I don’t think I’ll ever come close to what an amazing time it was.
I started my 20s on a sour note though. Like every Indian kid who showed even a remote aptitude for academics, I was hauled into engineering. While doing my engineering, I discovered a lot of free time. Mostly because hardly, anyone attended the lectures and, in my case, I just wouldn’t even go to college in hopes of getting thrown out.
But it was 2005 and unlike today there wasn’t much you could do with your free time. I mean I come from a regular middle-class family so it’s not like I had a PlayStation at home or something. There was no social media to speak of and worse the internet was still a dial-up connection, so every time you connected to the internet the landline would get jammed so you’d probably get 30 minutes tops to be online.
Basically, I had no option but to read. Thankfully I loved reading. I read biographies, books about people who made it, about rock bands, entrepreneurs, artists, filmmakers and literally about anyone who fascinated me.
That’s when I discovered a whole new world. That you can be anyone you wanted to be. And I was like fuck this is awesome. I wrote down a bunch of things I wanted to be in my twenties and then followed it through with almost a manic obsession to accomplish them all.
In short in my 20s I ended up becoming a filmmaker, an entrepreneur, an author, a public speaker, and a teacher. I started a company that did millions of dollars in revenue, travelled to over 70 cities and 15 countries, spoke at over 500 colleges/companies across India and the world and wrote a book that sold close to half a million copies and is now being made into a Bollywood film, all before I was 28. (Ok that was really really pompous).
But this is not what this blog is about. It is not my resume but it's my realisation about my twenties years later. You see despite achieving all this and literally ticking most items on my bucket list I wasn’t happy.
The realisation first dawned on me in 2018. I had just started my second start-up after running my previous start-up for a full 8 years. With no break nothing, I jumped head-on into building my new company. After 5 long months of 12-hour workdays, we finally launched the app. It was called GradesDontMatter and it was a platform that helped Indians discover and pursue alternative careers like filmmaking, baking, comedy, writing etc.
We launched the product and within a week it was like No 1 on the app store and play store. And then boom – I didn’t feel like going to work anymore. I know you must be thinking wait, wtf, that was so random.
But that was the harsh reality. My team was super confused as to what was happening. I mean we just put in 5 solid months of intense hard work into this, and I didn't feel like getting out of bed anymore? What kind of a fucked-up excuse was that?
Unfortunately, things didn’t change. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed or showing up for work and I didn’t know why. My start-up fell apart, my team disintegrated, and I was all alone by myself. Not only was this a very confusing period but a scary one too.
I had always taken pride in knowing a lot about myself and understanding myself. But for the first time in 31 years, I had no clue what was happening to me. I was living by myself, so my mom didn’t even have an idea all this was happening.
Months later when things didn’t improve at all, I finally decided to seek help. I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Now here’s the thing – depression is not like how they make it out to be on Instagram. It’s fucking real and fucks you up. If I was to describe depression for you – imagine the worst feeling you’ve ever had in your life. Now multiply that a hundred times and now imagine having that same feeling every second for months together. That’s depression for you.
But the worst thing about depression is you lose hope. You don’t see the point in doing anything with your life. It’s just dark all the time and you lose every iota of belief in yourself and everything else in the world.
Now the thing with depression is that it just doesn’t get cured overnight. Also, you can't really work or do anything much with your life. For the first time in 10 years, I had free time again. Yes, the world and technology had now changed. You were online 24/7, there were a gazillion movies and videos available online. And obviously, there was Instagram.
But I finally decided to start reading like in college.
But this time, I read books on the human mind. How it worked, why we did what we did. Books on psychology, human emotions, purpose etc. Anything I could find on these topics I would try to read. Because again with depression you really don’t see the point in doing anything. But whenever I could muster the motivation to read, I would devour these books.
And along with therapy, I slowly started unravelling a lot about myself. And my god it was eye-opening. The first thing I discovered was that I had very low self-worth.
Even though I could speak in front of thousands of people and convince investors to invest in my company etc etc the truth was I had low self-worth. There was some weird innate desire to prove to people that I was good enough. I don’t know when or how I developed this, but this was a major reason for my being in such a hurry in my 20s.
I would often compare myself to others and would feel extremely inadequate when I hung out with successful people. It was like my entire identity depended on whether I was successful or not. Only if I accomplished like a gazillion things would I consider myself worthy enough and only then could I feel good about myself.
But I distinctly remember that I would accomplish one thing, feel a big high and then feel the need to accomplish something else. It was just never-ending because you see low self-worth cannot be solved by external things. You need to look inside and really deep inside to solve it.
And the second thing I learned was that I had a strong inner critic. A person's inner critic can play a significant role in shaping one's identity and sense of self. This inner critic can be like a nagging voice that questions each decision and undermines each accomplishment, and it can leave a person with difficult feelings such as shame, inadequacy, or guilt.
The inner critic is basically that voice that’s always criticizing you, telling you that you're not good enough. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
If you grew up in a strict household or school, then your inner critic is particularly strong. And so, my inner critic was always after me. Let’s do this, let’s do that, let’s change the world and it went on and on.
And my fucking inner critic never stopped in my 20s. And thus, I was always in a hurry. Never once taking time out to actually enjoy life. Now the thing about the inner critic is that it’s like a bully. Think of it – will you bully your best friend? It’s the same way you must treat yourself too. Have a conversation with your inner critic and don’t let it bully the fuck out of you. The only way this can happen is if you start developing some empathy for yourself. You have empathy for others, no? So do this for yourself too.
The third thing I discovered was that I never processed any of my emotions. If I was sad, I would drown myself in work. If I was worried, I would go out and get drunk. If I felt pain, I would doom scroll on Instagram. I would run away from my feelings all the fucking time. The thing about feelings is – you can shove them under the carpet how much ever you want but if you don’t fucking take time to deal with them they will catch up with and they will mess you up.
I spent my entire 20s running away from my feelings and that’s the worst mistake I made. One of the main reasons why I was in such a hurry was because I didn’t want to face my feelings.
Don’t try to run away from pain or sadness. It will eventually catch up with you and fuck you up. Face it and process it.
And lastly, I realised I was in a toxic relationship for most of my 20s and that mostly had to do with me. I had toxic patterns and I never took the time to figure out why. The worst thing about a toxic relationship is you get so used to it that you don’t want to get out. You find it so familiar that a non-toxic environment would feel alien to you.
A lot of your toxic patterns are developed in childhood, and you may not even be aware that you have such patterns. And if you don’t look into this you could end up with a toxic partner and toxic friends. If you work on yourself, you will automatically walk out of toxic relationships and never seek them again.
I have finally beaten depression now. I took 3 long years but I was finally able to do it. But those 3 years gave me a lot of time to learn about myself. But more importantly, I’m no longer in a hurry now.
If you’re about to turn 25 or 30 and your life has panned out the way it was supposed to? You were supposed to have a solid 6 figure salary, own a house or a flashy car? Or were supposed to find the “one” and get married. Make your parents proud? Follow your dreams?
Life pans out differently for different people. And your time will come too. Don’t let what others have accomplished determine your worth. Focus on yourself and do it at your own pace.
Oh and remember Bobby Fischer? Despite his legendary status in the annals of chess history, Fischer had an erratic and disturbing inner life. He achieved everything so quickly that he eventually lost his mind and disappeared for 20 years after winning the world title.
For the next 20 years, Bobby Fischer would not play a single competitive game of chess. When he was asked to defend his world title in 1975, he wrote back with a list of 179 demands. When not a single one was met, he refused to play.
Bobby Fischer was stripped of his title. He had lost the world championship without moving a single piece.
Ask yourself this and try to find the answer - "Why are you in such a hurry?"
"Oh, I hear a voice That says I'm running behind I better pick up my pace It's a race and there ain't No room for someone in second place
I'm in a hurry to get things done I rush and rush until life's no fun All I really gotta do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why"