The Joy of Growing Up

By on June 26, 2019

Growing up in Africa is so much fun. The vast majority of African kids enjoy an interesting childhood littered with wild dreams and aspirations that could swing from one end of the spectrum to the other with no warning or procedure. When I was a little boy reading books like Jack and the Beanstalk, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island, I knew in my heart of hearts that I was destined to be a traveler. I knew that my purpose on this earth was to be a traveler.

I grew a little older and my mother introduced me to African literature books with rich language, delicious description, beautiful narration and deep themes and I felt like perhaps I was supposed to be a teacher of English. The plan was to end up teaching English at Oxford University or Cambridge Univeristy or whatever other fancy University there was that had a dictionary named after it.

Not too long after that, my extremely pious mum decided to challenge me to read the Bible cover to cover. My reward? A bicycle. And then I started to feel like I was getting closer to God and maybe my true calling was to be a servant of the Lord. But that flew out of the Window as soon as I completed the book of Revelations and started reading Nancy Drew and Tom Hardy books, at which point I knew I was meant to become a detective.

By the time I joined Senior One, I was focused on pursuing a music career, partly because my voice had not yet broken and I was an innocent little Soprano prospect. And then life happened, my voice broke and so did my dream to become a musician. Not to be outdone, I figured I’d attempt to be an actor and even went ahead to join the drama class – that did not end well as it would later emerge that I had no patience for rehearsals or practice and most dramatists were very confident humans, unlike me whose confidence showed up in random spasms.

From then on, my dreams kept swinging from one vocation to another until I joined the University and finally decided I would go wherever the wind blew me. When I completed University, having pursued a degree that was really of my father’s choosing, I was still unsure where I would end up because that was around the time my passion for Radio and Writing were beginning to blossom. And since both careers were not necessarily famous for making people wealthy, there wasn’t much enthusiasm from those around me, especially my parents. But that did not bother me much because I figured if I was doing something I loved, I would eventually end up making the money – somehow.

The process of identifying one’s dream and career path in Africa is a process that begins right when you are born and continues throughout life until you die. At any given funeral, there will always be someone talking about the potential one had and the long life they could have lived if they had pursued a certain career path. The bitter truth is that we are always capable of plenty.

Young people today enjoy a lot in terms of making career choices as compared to the rest of us who were raised on Newspaper Crossword puzzles, Saturday morning cartoons and the P. O. Box. During that time, telling your parents you wanted to be a Writer, Artist or Dancer was a one-way ticket to getting excommunicated from the family and probably banned from the clan. And so many of us had to endure studying a range of clashing things like Matrices, Tectonic Plates, The French Revolution, Quadratic Equations, Otto von Bismarck, the anatomy of a Frog and Electronics when really all we wanted to do was become story tellers.

Today, when you get on YouTube, you will bump into people pursuing all kinds of vocations and making chunks of money with no regard for traditional career expectations. This, in my opinion should give anyone the courage to pursue whatever career their heart desires. The chances that you will be accepted back into the family after pursing a Bachelors Degree in Music Therapy from Arizona State University are higher today than they were fifteen or twenty years ago – assuming the course was even available then.

No sane person should sit back and wonder what career they should pursue when they have the internet at their disposal. Whether you would like to become a Gardener, Painter, Designer, Writer, Nuclear Physicist, Fashion Creative, Shoe maker, Film Maker, Escort, Web Developer, Surgeon or Masseuse, the internet will give you a break down of what you need to do to become successful.

In the past, a lot of it was really just hit and miss because not too many people supported you unless you were planning to become a teacher, engineer, lawyer, doctor or accountant. If you pursued anything outside this, you were really just on your own and until you brought home a formidable paycheck, you would be shunned and ridiculed. Of course there are still families that look down upon certain vocations but there has been a bit more relaxation. My own father to this day wonders why I don’t sit behind a desk and work a 9-5 job like all other normal people. But because I am able to foot my own bills, he does not shake his head as often as he used to.

The onus is on any young person today to discover where their calling might be, without being boxed in and dragged into traditional societal expectations. There is absolutely no harm in trying out as many vocations as you possibly can. Having gone through a lifetime of confusion myself regarding careers, I see no harm in trying out as many different vocations when you are still young because when you get to a certain stage and age in your life, you will not have that luxury.

Some people are lucky enough to know from the onset what they want to pursue in life. Such people are usually raised in families that allow you to harness your talent from when you are young and so by the age of 10, everyone knows what you will become a Formula 1 driver or Violinist. However, for the average African child, things are figured out as you go along. The education system and the society conspire to force you down a certain career path. Back here, by the time you step out of the education system a little after the age of twenty, you are as clueless of your purpose as you were the day you left your mother’s womb.

Make it a point to start venturing out and getting your hands dirty on anything and everything. Spend some days on a farm, see if that is what might excite you. Walk into a recording studio and figure out if that is where your dream is. Feel free to travel the world and try to discover what exactly you might be purposed for. Learn and unlearn things, start a career, abandon it, pick up another, abandon it too, do all this while your heart, mind and body are still young. Growing up is supposed to be fun – enjoy your youth!

“Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.” ― Virginia Woolf

a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Beewol - The Talkative Rocker