So my little brother is 12 years old and making the transition from primary school (elementary school for readers from across the pond) into high school. With that comes the oh-so-important and incredibly serious task of subject choosing. You see over here in South Africa, once you get to High School, not all subjects are compulsory except the core ones like Maths and English and an extra language etc.
So, today after dinner was had and tummies were full, my parents sat my nutty, slightly immature for his age and totally go-with-the-flow brother and asked him the big question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It wasn’t even like the jokey, there’s-no-wrong-answer toned version that you ask every little kid between the ages of 5 and 8. It was the no nonsense, gravity filled, straight faced version. The kind you had to answer with: “I want to be an engineer, because….” or I want to be an accountant, since…”
Notice I also used the very traditional “professions” in my examples. This is because my parents, being the hard core East African parents that they are, don’t believe in none ‘traditional’ career paths. Try explaining what an Event Stylist does, or a Personal stylist for that matter. That would be an interesting conversation. It’s not like it’s they are so rigid as to demand that we pick careers that please them. In fact, my recent change in career paths proves so. There is no direct instruction and implication. But, it’s in the way they rattle out possible career choices: architect, accountant, doctor, lawyer. Never have I heard them say “you can be anything you want to be.”
You may ask what choosing subjects has to do with career paths. Well, in our schooling system, subject choices in high school directly influence the university degree that one finally does. So, for example, if you choose mainly science based subjects, you can go into the Science based, Engineering and Medical fields. Likewise if accounting, economics are chosen in high school, that means you’re headed straight to the Finance faculty at Varsity. Of course there are the humanities subjects i.e. languages, music, art – but we rarely speak of those in this household.
So anyway, there I was sitting quietly, twiddling my thumbs, trying very hard (and almost not succeeding) to shut my mouth. Trying not to shout something rude or defiant or remotely modern-like. Oh I don’t know something like “He’s 12! He doesn’t know what he want to be!”. You see, I decided to let them handle this whole parenting thing. Because at the end of the day, I don’t know that much about it. And I’m Kenyan. And when you’re Kenyan, you let your parents do the talking. Plus, they have years worth of wisdom that I do not possess. And they sure as hell love him. He’s their son – they want what’s best for him above all else.
When I was 12, I had no idea what I wanted to become. Well, actually, I did. I wanted to become a pilot. But not because I wanted to fly planes because I think they are cool. Not even because I think the uniforms are cool, no. It’s because I wanted to touch the clouds. And everybody knows you can’t touch clouds from inside a plane! But somehow, the grown up people in my life failed to mention this to my 12 year old befuddled mind (let’s choose to ignore the fact that this is a very five year old type thought and at 12, I should have known better!).
So, what is my point here? What is the four letter word that I so mysteriously named this post as, designed to intrigue and interest you to click on and read my blog? *drumroll please*… Yep, you guessed it!
This ominous yet exciting, mystical yet supremely sure, thing. Think about it. We have no idea what to expect of it. It’s scary, down right frightening, and worrying to contemplate. Yet, we are besides ourselves to live it. To fill it with beautiful memories; to milk every minute, every second out of the moments that make it what it is. We are not sure of it and what it holds. Some might even go as far as to say that we cannot be sure that we have a purpose for/to live it. But, if there’s one thing we all can have no doubt about: we are born, we
breath live, then we die. Period. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
I can’t be sure when I began to know what I wanted out of life. And there is a BIG difference between knowing what you want out of life and knowing who to be to get there. I just know that that moment arrived after a lot or trial and error. And I mean A LOT.
I’m still getting there too. Still taking each step with caution because I still don’t see the path with my name on it clearly marked out for me. I pray God continues to lead me there. That he keeps showing me where I should place my feet.
And I surely hope he begins to show my little brother where to go too. Well at least if not him, my parents can nudge him in the right direction till he begins to walk on his own.
Till next time,