The Problem of Growth

I spoke to my child Bella on her 20th birthday and asked her the grand question, 'What plan do you have for your twenties?'. Her answer summarized everything I've been trying to write about since my last birthday, and gave us the title of this blog post - The Problem of Growth. While we're 3 years apart, Bella and I are basically the same in the eyes of the world. We're 20 something year olds that should be 'living our best lives' and 'doing the most'.

Setting the stage

By age 8, we were grown enough to read the little posters plastered around the school telling us over and over again to avoid peer pressure. We didn't really get it until we were teenagers, and thought we were being asked to walk away when our friends offered us cigarettes and alcohol. But now, I think peer pressure is bigger than intoxicants. I’ll break it down for a second:

Peer - A person of the same age, status, or ability as another specified person. Similar words are include equal, fellow, co-worker, match, like, rival, confrère (lol), compeer, co-equal, contemporary

Pressure - The influence or effect of someone or something.

 Peer pressure isn’t always flicking joints away. If anything, my personal experience has taught me that peer pressure to a 20 year old is worrying that you aren’t doing as well as everyone else in your age group.

 What is the most anyway?

As you close your apps for the day, you might catch yourself sighing heavily, as if you forgot to breathe while you were having a look around. You might even mumble a sentence involving the built from what I call the consolation template:

  • Anyway….
  • We shall all die...
  • Kasta…
  • God…
  • It will end in tears

 But what is it about a post that left you with the need to give yourself a few (very salty) words of kindness and a reason to keep going?  We’ve been given too much to see, and everyone is sharing. After hours down the social media wormhole, it may seem like because you have nothing to share, you just don’t fit in with the society that 2020 has churned out. Your skin isn’t clear enough, your body isn’t good enough, your drip isn’t drippy enough, you don’t go out enough times to share your life with your followers and my goodness, where are you going with that hair?

 What is your most?

I like stories. I like to read them, write them and most recently, I like to share my own. Obviously, that means that for my 20s, my gift to myself would be knowing that I overcame the fear of imperfection, and told all the stories that have stayed hidden in my mind. My realization came from realizing the pattern of everything that ever left me sad. It was always a Creative at their prime. It was Wanja, Bazanye, Bikozulu and Acan. It was my lovely Mary writing songs - lyrics, guitar and all. It was web comics that I know I would've mastered if I’d kept drawing. It was Vines and Tik Toks, because my once retarded sense of humor is now celebrated. It was attending Aka-Dope and realizing Ugandans played really good electric guitar, sang beautifully and that the crowd loved Tucker HD as much as it did Raba Daba.

But that's just me. I know that you know that there is something you enjoy, something you gave up on or something that you want to do but are waiting for ‘the right mood’, ‘the right friends’ or ‘the lockdown to be lifted’. Which brings me to my next point.

 The Lockdown

If you’re reading this, you definitely bought a data bundle recently. Your phone or laptop is also charged. I don’t know what the situation is at home, but you personally aren’t doing too badly compared to the average Ugandan population.

3 weeks into this lockdown, my boss asked me to share what challenges I had with the team. I said I was mentally idle and becoming unproductive. A teammate advised that I make a journal and every week, write down what I had learnt that week. Months later, my birthday came along and as a personal tradition, I had to account for my wins in the past year, and set targets for the next. 

A lot of the time we use up in the day running around trying to get things done has been handed back to us. In this vacuum, we don’t have to worry about our responsibility to our education and for some, how to get to and from work. The assumption here is I’m speaking to my peers, that don’t have major responsibilities yet, and are given room by their families to be on their own for a few hours in the day. It may not be a lot of time, but a lot of growth happens in the 2 or 3 hours you have everyday. 

It is now on you to figure out where your interests and growth merge. Will it be working on improving your blog? ( :) ) Making those business plans? Perfecting your makeup artistry? Growing your YouTube channel? - a bonus because everyone is at home watching. You choose. Just don’t let the year that the world has taken from you be in vain. Tweny tweny might still be your year after all.

 Finally

Please don’t be under pressure. I know that your twenties are supposed to be the wildest time of your life. But we all know the checklist caters to a specific combination of the same income group and personality type - the extroverted kid from a well-off family. No one ever tells the girl that doesn’t like to party, or the girl whose family is having a rough time, or the one whose job application didn’t go through what to do with her 20s. 

P.S - Blog posts tend to be specific to the writer, and I write knowing that while it might sound like this is just me, I’ve got so many friends that fall into these different categories.

I’d say throw the internet advice away, and chase the thing that leaves you unsettled every time you think about being the better version of yourself. All the very best of luck on your journey!