By Omoye Uzamere
Tomorrow is my birthday!
It appears that on birthdays, one has to take stock of your life and evaluate your self, asking if you are where you’re meant to be in life – especially if it’s a landmark birthday.
But I really don’t feel like doing that – and I’m turning a landmark age too.
From my observation, people hide their age until they turn 30 or 35, 40 or 45, 50 or 55… it feels like a great big set up.
We’re raised with certain expectations from the very moment we’re born. All newborns are expected to cry – check!
Babies should be sitting by 6 months old – check!
Walk on or before your first birthday – check! (if you walk at 9 months, dem go hear ohhh!! – you might even add it to your CV)
Primary 1 on or before 5 years – check!
Skip primary 6 because you were just too brilliant for your age and Start secondary school on or before you are 11 – check!
(if you are in JSS1 at 8 or 9, you’re a genius).
Finish secondary school with all As, get into the University and graduate by 20 or 21 as the MVP that you are.
Then you get out, into the world that you’ve been dreaming of – a world of freedom, adulthood and responsibility – and you realize that all the expectations of you are different from the reality.
Growing up is not an arrival destination, it’s a journey.
The expectations never stop and parents are going to demand their rights. No it’s not a monthly allowance, since you’re now earning (although that would be appreciated). It is the vicarious life they are about to live through you by marrying the type of partner they hoped for, having children in the “expected” time frame and gender and of course, because you would have already studied what they wanted (you) to in the university, their dream job for you.
Suddenly, you wake up and there’s a whole chunk of your life that you cannot account for.
That’s when you rebel.
You change courses in Uni or refuse to marry Mr. Perfect or quit your hotshot job, cut your hair and make dread locs, or move back to or away from Nigeria.
You start to redeem lost time by doing a job that makes you happy or dressing the way you want or even hanging out with younger friends and people call you the A word. No, not Achiever; that was in your past life when A was the colour of your report card or appraisal form. You are no longer the poster boy or girl for success, you are now an AGBAYA.
Yes, like RMD wearing those trendy clothes, because as my friend said, a grandfather like him needs to have some shame or “sense of propriety”. *insert fierce eye roll*
I can’t sit with you oh, you know you’re somebody’s wife.
Ah! Me I can’t be friends with a married man oh.
Why would you dance that way, don’t you know you’re somebody’s mother?
Maybe there’s a good intention here – imposing responsibility on people and forcing them to remember their status but it means the unmarried and non-parents as it were are public property to do with as one desires until someone comes to restore them to respectable status.
If everyone is stifled then it means that growing up is a set up prepared by all, to the detriment of all and we’re all trapped in a bubble, like Nigerians who were tricked into the façade called Democracy.
Well, this is my own existentialist debate, as I turn a year older.
I will approach adulthood with the tentative steps of a learner and not hesitate to get off the speed lane if I need to catch my breath. Let’s refrain from the labels and evolve as we grow and experience actual growth in the process.
If you ask me, growing up is a trap.
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