"Last month, as Twitter and Instagram went crazy with the hashtag #NH7Shillong, I sat in bed looking at my iPhone, slightly puzzled. A year ago, I would have been feeling restless and frustrated, a victim of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out; you should know that by now!) 'Why am I not there? Do I need to make new, cooler friends? Does this mean I am officially old?': the 33-year-old me would have questioned.
But this year, as I gazed at the pictures and status updates with a melancholic wistfulness that one looks at their childhood pictures with, I realised that there was no way in hell I wanted to be in Shillong for the 'happiest festival'. FOGO, the Fear Of Going Out, had officially gotten the better of me!
I also had a hundred thoughts running in my head. Those Forever 21 shorts wouldn't look half as good on me as they do on the queen of cool, Monica Dogra. And lets not even get started on crop tops! There was no way I was going to last a whole day of standing around, drinking out of paper cups, and whipping-my-hair-like-I-just-don't-care! 'Would I be the oldest one there?' is another question that crossed my mind. At a recent Ed Sheeran concert in Mumbai, I felt like a mom, dying to tell a few 13-year-olds to cover up. Not my finest moment.
Don't hate on me yet. I still love a good time, and I would be hopping if you suggested we go dancing. Till a year ago, I was going out every night, and my Instagram feed was flooded with drunken pictures from night-outs, which prompted some of my Facebook friends to message me, 'You're living the life of a famous author, aren't you?' No, I wasn't. I was just trying to pretend I wasn't a grown-up. But then one day, I decided to stop.
And here's why: these days, if you don't attend the right dos, and be at the right places, well, you might as well not exist. Honestly, as I turned 33 this year, I realised how little I cared. And staying in and watching Downton Abbey or Supernatural, and then going to bed after taking that I'm-so-hot-and-I-don't-know-it selfie, seems like the perfect plan.
Fitting in is too much work. You need to wear the right clothes, be at the hottest clubs, know the right people, and take the most social media-appropriate pictures. And why would you choose to be a sheep when you can be a doing-it-my-own-way hyena? As everyone gets ready to post New Year's in Goa pictures, I am planning to delete my Instagram app for a month. Maybe it's called hiding, but I can't fake it anymore. Here's looking forward to the next fear."
Aastha Atray Banan is the author of Games Girls Play and Assistant Editor at Sunday Mid Day, Mumbai