So you’re finally through with school; you’ve completed your college course, probably met someone you think you could spend the rest of your life with, broken up with someone you’d pictured spending the rest of your life with, thought about moving out of home (as if it hasn’t been on your mind since you were 16!), and if you’re fortunate you’ve found some sort of job to keep you busy and having some spare change. This means you’re growing up. So be prepared; it doesn’t get any easier from now on.
One of several things could happen. You could wind up moving in with your boyfriend and having a baby – wedding are such an expensive hustle these days and Vegas is really far away. Or you could stay home and listen to the hints about job applications online and adverts in the newspaper – since it is generally assumed that all you do is watch telly, waste time on Facebook, drain the fridge of its expensive contents, sleep in and take up too much space in the house. Or you could find a cheap bed-sitter in Kahawa and share it with an old campus buddy whom you find reasonably clean (he or she takes a shower every other day, does laundry fortnightly, helps with the cooking and cleaning at least 25% of the time, etc). Or you get mad and move in with a sibling – only to discover, and to your utter dismay, that they are simply a younger version of Mom and Dad; only they’re more annoying and embarrassing when they really put their mind to it.
You wake up one day and really start to think about where you are and how far that is from where you had feared or hoped you’d be. Then just before you get into cardiac failure of the grey extreme of bipolar disorder, you notice the beggar on the street with atrophied muscles and twisted limbs, the old mad woman you’ve seen since 2007 (after high school) sitting in the rain outside Teleposta building, the text from a girlfriend in trouble (and I don’t mean not being able to afford a leather boot to weather the rain), the obituary with a 14 year old kid who died after ‘another’ asthmatic attack, your cousin whose drug problem has finally seen him admitted at the happy house – out of town, out of sight and away from family table headlines.
If you’re wise, you remember the good times you had with good friends in campus – watching movies, fermenting porridge, discussing birth control over avocado-and-smokie sandwiches. You will also recall that all mothers have the same DNA and that they mean when even if they don’t – I mean, they are human and we all screw up a lot, but luckily we are not responsible for entire households, spouses, kids, companies, a country, etc. You will stop and laugh at some of the things that made you furious when they were said to or about you weeks ago – now that it has passed and everyone would rather discuss political alliances, you’re okay. You still feel bad about breaking up with that broke guy up with because he look, sound or earn a certain way; you regret the abortion whenever you see some former classmate from high school sharing Facebook photos after a first birthday party; you miss the roommate you shared coffee and loud laughs with in the middle of the night – usually because some CAT was due the following morning and the lecturer was an epitome of God’s revenge on adolescents.You text your estranged guardian to say ‘hi’ or ask some stupid question because you’ve missed them and wonder whether you should have let things play themselves out differently.
There are things I wish we’d been told in campus. How hard it is to ever find work in anything, leave alone what you hated and had to study for 4 years. That passion counts for more at work than simply showing up each day. That people will always disappoint you – and that this fact gravitates more closely around friends and family. That creativity – which was shunned in the snide remarks made about music, fine art, fashion, interior design – is the one thing that will help you get ahead in the corporate world alongside discipline, persistence and networks. That everyone counts as a useful network, that everyone is important and that every genuine effort for a good cause counts for something. I wish they had told us that money is not everything and that simply attending class, engaging in group discussion and sitting exams was simpler than working in the most, seemingly, menial field of work. Most of all, I wish they’d mentioned that life is no rehearsal and that success and failure have been redefined as follows: what I attract by who I become and different results from the (initial) expected, respectively.