When we were younger we never had to deal with different scenarios. We never had a lot of what ifs. You were told that you needed to top the class and you went ahead, read and topped or almost topped the class. If you missed the morning bladder game, you knew there would be another bladder game later in the evening and you would go play that instead of playing rounders, that you had already played in the morning. Life was a straight line. This was until you became a teen and realised that life is made of too many forks on the road.
I am not sure how many of us were left to their own devices. You were told, if you hang out with boys you are going to get pregnant and die. You were told if you didn’t do well in your KCPE life’s gonna suck. You were told if you don’t behave like a lady no one’s going to take you seriously. These are things you were never told about before, but apparently now they bore too much importance to be left unsaid. So you went around very cautious of boys even though their games are better, their jokes sillier and you didn’t understand what pregnancy had to do with it.
You worked your ass off to pass your KCPE, you didn’t and your dream of being a doctor changed to, I think being a teacher is fine. It is service to the people. You wanted to wear trousers every day and a pair of boots but no, you had to be girly, so you wore dresses even though they made you uncomfortable. You were taught that a lot of things in life are meant to be feared and you went into life with that mindset. Now they say, speak up for yourself, you can’t because you were taught to always listen to your elders and obey them. How are you expected to live when fear informs your every move?
You go to high school and here a new pressure comes in. If you don’t pass your KCSEs you are done for. At this point you are not even sure what career path you want to take. You sit in class, try to listen but there is too much nonsense in your brain that makes listening difficult. The school calls ‘old girls’ to come speak to you. You remember this one girl saying she got an A- and barely made it to her desired course. The last time you saw anything resembling an A- in your report card was back in class three when you ‘failed’ that Kiswahili test. (Yes, you were once a straight A student). You sleep late and wake up early to read. You join a million discussion groups, follow the teacher around for extra assignments and break your desk with several revision books.
All this doesn’t seem like it’s worth it so you join the drama/music club and try to release that creative energy. You go to funkies and remember you are not supposed to walk around with boys, not only because the school almost did not allow it but also because you don’t want to get pregnant and die. The dance number made you feel alive but you have to go back to school, you haven’t spoken to any boy, you only ate pinpops and digestive biscuits. You wait for next year so you can do this again. You do this for two more years because this is more enjoyable than school to be honest.
KCSE was not bad, but you did not pass as expected so you leave for university for a course you picked from a pamphlet. Everyone here is on hormones like a form 2 student. Boys are spoken of. Idris Elba and Boris Kodjoe are mentioned more times than you would care to listen. You watch movies with Idris Elba and Boris Kodjoe and try to fit in but nothing. Maybe they are not your type. You try again with Brad Pitt and again, nothing. You see Jesse Williams and are like, I could work with that. At this point the night life doesn’t make sense because once again, you don’t want to get pregnant and die. So you watch Shonda Rhimes shows and The Hollywood Reporter Roundtables and do your assignments instead of going out and enjoying life.
Internship period comes calling and you look for opportunities in reputable companies. You work like a robot, no fulfillment whatsoever. These connections are supposed to last you a lifetime or so you were told. This goes on for longer than you wanted and you are done with university. You send CVs left right and center. No replies. Fear creeps in because without a job how are you going to get a nice house, car, lovely happy family? Yes, no job, no lovely happy family. You panic once again. Feel inferior and change your CV format severally and send out again.
You are called in for an interview. You are not sure that you know any of the answers because you were told, if it seems easy it is not. They ask what is one plus one and you get suspicious because seriously, the answer can’t be two can it? You give a very philosophical answer but come to realise that they needed you to just say 2. Two was the answer all along.
The feeling of doubts creeps in and you are sure you didn’t get in. The phone rings after two weeks and you got employed. You go in fearing not to lose your job, not to annoy your boss, not to be the subject of office gossip and not try to know your colleagues too much. You switch on robot mode and sit on that desk for 30 more years because you don’t want to disappoint your boss by leaving. This is sadly the life well lived.
What are some of the things you were told to you that instilled a sense of fear into you? Share in the comment section below.