Last week on Tuesday morning after my 2.4-kilometer morning run, I strolled into my house around 6.45 a.m. and switched on the radio. Classic 105 FM hummed through the speakers as I worked on my push-ups, squats and sit-ups in the verandah.
Somewhere towards the end of the 7 o’clock news bulletin, the newscaster read something that am still mulling over.
I was panting so I did not catch much of the item except that “…millennials need to keep flexible goals in order to help minimize their possibilities of sliding into depression and anxiety.”
I took a few minutes from my work out to internalize that sentence then went back to finish up my exercise, then I went about my hustles for the day before sitting down to write this.
You see, I will be turning twenty eight in about sixteen weeks. That means I will be two years closer to the age of thirty where, according to the plans I lay when I was eighteen, most of my goals should have been accomplished. But a lot of those goals have not been achieved yet. Heck, am not even sure whether I will achieve some before I get to the fourth floor. But that is okay because I am learning that life is not about the achievement of goals but rather about living it to the fullest and enjoying every minute you breathe.
See, when I was eighteen, hanging out with my friends Philip and Vinnie Boy and Arnold and G-Mike in Philip’s poultry produce shop, we were full of life and optimism.
The world was ours to conquer. Nothing could stop us coz it was our turn to be great…
I was working as an untrained teacher at the time. Making a few coins. And living in my mother’s house. I somehow imagined I would remain immune to inflation and to the hardships of life because I was one among “the chosen generation.” We had just finished high school and were waiting to move on with our lives. Go to college, get proper jobs, and buy/build houses. Found our own families, and the whole nine yards. You know, be the people we were truly born to be.
But boy did life turn out to be something else.
Nobody told us. Or at least me, what life would be like.
At the time, I did not even know what goals to set, so I went with the very obvious ones.
And I thought I was doing just fine. Until I stopped being fine and I realized, as The Remembrandts sang, that my “… job was a joke, I was broke, my love life was D.O.A…” and I had lost nearly all my weight.
For me, the plan had been clear and simple, and very straightforward.
I was to go to university and finish up my bachelor’s degree by age 23.
Then become an investment banker or a stock broker or a procurement official in some company where I would earn decent coin. And live a beautiful life as a blooming bachelor; enjoying everything I could in the process.
I was to buy a beautiful black Toyota Allion as my first car. I was to work for 2 years then enroll for my masters’ degree in Economics or Finance, which I would clear by age 27.
Then I was to get an even better paying job and buy that black Lexus I used to (and still) dream of.
After that I would then build myself a decent house somewhere in a nice town by the time I turned 30.
Then I would try to settle down and live my life. You know, look for a beautiful girl to live with –at age 31– and have my first kid at the age of 32 or 33.
Well, none of those happened the way I had planned.
Not everything per se, just that a lot of things turned out different.
On the very positive side, I did graduate from university at the age of twenty three like I had planned. I had also gone for attachment in a banking hall the year before I graduated, and I thought my life was flowing according to plan.
That God was smiling down upon me.
I also did enroll for my masters before the age of twenty five. That was a big plus for me – even though am yet to attend even a single class of it.
I also found a beautiful lady who makes me feel like am just fine, even on those days when am not. Many as they are.
So, basically, I have checked a lot of boxes on the goals column.
But I did not get the job I wanted nor the decent pay I had wished for. I have not bought that black Toyota Allion or the Lexus yet, and am still not sure yet when I will buy them. But buy them I will. Of that am convinced. I also did not enroll for a masters in Finance like I had thought I someday would. Because I realized Finance would not be the career for me. I found out I love being free from time to time else I get depressed. And finance would certainly not let me be free, though the money would be awesome. So I enrolled for Project Planning – and am yet to attend a single lecture but that’s for another blog post.
I did get a kid at the age of 21. I was so young and scared and confused and stupid. I did not know what to do or how to feel.
I was still a kid myself and I was not even in the right frame of mind to comprehend what was going on.
I felt cursed because at the time; a child was not a blessing but a burden to my destiny.
I will write about that kid in a book someday soon.
Oh my little man, Dwayne…
Of course I got a laughable job after college where the pay was nothing but an insult to my education, my goals, my dreams and my destiny. I however had fun for the most part because it allowed me to be independent and to do things on my own terms. You know, making the best of what you have and what not.
I thought it would be a simple detour from my destiny and that I would use it as a stepping stone to my goals.
But then, little by little, I realized, a part of me was dying each day I stayed at that job.
So I quit. With no plan at all.
And I dug myself bit by bit into a big black hole as I settled into false comfort. Then I got the biggest bout of depression and panic attack I have ever had.
And I realized, as the newscast had reminded me on Tuesday, that if I had set flexible goals, I would have been just fine. I would have been a car on the road, obeying the turns on the road that is life. And avoiding plunging down into the valleys on either side.
Amidst all the planning and scheduling and goal setting, I have since come to realize, I forgot to account for one of the most important determinants of living. I neglected to plan for the process of finding myself. I did not allow myself enough room for the man in me to come out. And to help me face the world.
Am still trying to look for him.
Some days that search is a breeze.
Most days I just wing it and hope I don’t crash land. But through it all, am learning to enjoy the small wins, and to tackle big challenges with greater sobriety.
Am finding out that I am not the first to veer away from the plan, and that I won’t be the last.
I have also learnt that with time, I will gain greater clarity and things will fall into place.
I am also learning to sway in the direction that the wind blows. Because by so doing, I can easily avoid the breakage I so came close to not very long ago