I used to think that “adolescent” was a synonym for “teenage”. Thus, the psychosomatic symptoms associated with adolescence stopped at 19. It was when I began to approach my 21st Birthday that I began to realize I was only beginning to express my own juvenile delinquency. Laugh at Me if you want.
I suddenly began to question almost everything I’d learned and believed from infancy. I began to ask questions- who are my friends? What is a friend? Who am I? Do I really want to go where I’m headed? What are the rules I play by? Should there be rules at all? Is there a God? Is there an afterlife? What if there’s no heaven but a dark, quiet void of unknowingness? Why do we really believe there’s a heaven since none of us alive have actually BEEN there and returned successfully?
I began to question the social stereotype of the boy child. The world seemed to think that the boy child, the African boy child was born with a silver spoon literally stuck down his throat. In reality, the boy child is going to grow up being the burden bearer, toiling and sweating, fighting off men and animals, running from pillar to post to pulpit, searching for a cure to his sickly child. He will bear the cost of encroaching civilization- frustrated that his whole year’s income will probably not suffice for the next year. The whole society blames him for not being able to handle an equally frustrated wife, children lagging behind in schools that get more expensive and less justifiable by the session, and a crushing house rent/mortgage due in 3 months.
I began to question the point of life. I did not desire death, but I was not particularly careful for my life either. I embraced the good and the bad, the young and the old, the rough and the gentle. I worked weekends, I worked till 8:30pm, I slept till 6:30am, I drove an unwashed car for 3 days at a time. I began to question the logic behind giving and giving to self-acclaimed Pastors when the same God they claim to represent never actually shows up to give money to needy people (only equally faceless orphanages seemed to be getting the money).
I began to question the sense in fighting for national unity in a country that has no reason to be united. The government offers no protection; the armed forces have practically become private armies for the obscenely rich. I began to see the logic in us breaking into maybe 5 smaller countries that determine their own destinies by employing natural resources for their own good. I stopped being afraid of joining the voices of discontent with the status quo. The fact that corruption is deep seated and probably as old as my father does not mean I have to obey its senile representatives.
So I rebelled against the authority of the conventional. I refused to be deluded by the promises of “e go better”. I rejected the blanket of “everybody’s doing it”. I decided it wasn’t wrong after all to arrive early to every meeting like my father taught me. I decided any girl who threw trash out of my car had already reached the peak of our friendship and would NEVER rise beyond that. I decided that respect for people simply because they were born earlier than me was becoming fast irrelevant. Age is never an accomplishment in itself, it is only how much better your environment has become because of your age that matters. Thus I only gave older people the respect of greetings and politeness; never in taking unfruitful advice or allowing myself to be cheated.
I rebelled against the urge to please everybody- I quickly began to lose friends. Till date I can still see the ghosts of friendships past- the calls I made every day, the text wars I fought, the sarcastic jokes I sniggered at. I smile to think that there are people I was taking to literally every day at this time last year and now I can barely sustain a 5-minute instant messaging session. I also find it curious that I do not feel bitter, but view the changes with the air of a casual observer.
I have conceded to the facts that I do not know it all; that the power of the supernatural, the immenseness of human stupidity and unreliability, and what Women are really thinking…ARE ALL concepts my human mind may never truly, totally grasp. I have decided to affect my world with the God in me, to provoke smiles in the faces of my neighbours, to constantly think, and to innovate. I decided to take my life far more seriously than I have previously- to improve my mind by ceaseless study, to relax my soul with good music, to delight my tongue with the finest delicacies, to indulge my heart in the deepest of laughter.
In doing this, I have escaped the trap of Adolescence. And I have become a Man.