I find myself thinking a lot about time. It’s a strange concept don’t you think? In school you learn to read the time, and when you are equipped enough to know the movement of the cursors, they award you with a watch. And that’s when it begins; life of entrapment. What they don’t tell you is that your entire life is set against this time, something of which at 26 I’m trying to move away from.
Less than a month ago I was entrapped by a watch. Preset time; set on meetings, lunches, brunches, expectations. Whilst I write this in a French infused Taiwanese coffee shop, I think back to the mess that I was. See the problem is that our inheritance as black South Africans is dictated by all periods of time. Pre colonialism, pre apartheid, apartheid, post apartheid…born frees. My parents raised me to be respectful and loving child, not bound by our past, but even they fell into the pressures of society, by teaching us the value of time. Let’s take a linear approach. During primary school, subtle references of age and time started sweeping in. You hear murmers of questions asking you what you want to be one day. In your mind one day doesn’t seem clear, but you are fully aware that it means, as a grown up, once schooling is over. Your teen years are even worse; as you develop a clear understanding of what you want to be when grown. I know this because I, and I believe my fellow sisters will vouch for this, had my first wedding premonition during high school. And most will tell you that the dream of flowers, brides maids and that porcelain white dress takes place when you are 25-26. So here you are, at 18, matriculated, with all of your dreams in front of you. In university a clear path is set, and yes we all lose ourselves in the parties, drugs, boyfriends, and the drama. But this is a testimony of our thinking; that one’s best years are bound by a period between18-23. So my life was planned out, greatness laid ahead.
The corporate life is just as dingling to your mind as its predecessors. When you get the job, you are genuinely filled with joy because it opens up life’s possibilities; the apartment, the car, the lifestyle. Besides so many South African youths are jobless. It becomes a priviledge rather than an achievement. My priviledge became a cycle; meetings, events, training and brainstorming sessions, Friday afternoon sundowners and planned holidays. All done in the name of the corporate ladder. It’s not surprising that over time a wave of depression hits. Alexandra Robbins coins it the quarter life crisis. My piece won’t go into detail on the afore mentioned, besides Google can do a great job in doing so. I can however attest that I showed signs of going through this phase.
Waking up is likened to claiming Kilimanjaro, procrastination becomes your middle name, and you choose not to attend social events (both professional and private) and then comes an unfortunate time when you hit boiling point. I was once so tired from my work pressures, that I found the nearest Engen garage and took a nap in the back seat of my car. In that moment I said a little prayer, and asked God to give me a sign, as this was not the life I envisaged for myself. After my nap I made the decision to change my life for the better. I decided to be selfish, and whilst that came at a price i.e loved ones being left behind, it’s arguably the best decision I’ve ever made. Not knowing what to do is really not as bad it seems.
I’m 26 and I’ve no idea what I want to do with my life, apart from travel. It’s a scary thought because my peers are driven by exactly the opposite. Our born free brunches end up becoming philosophical conversations about where and what we ought to be, which utterly means that I’m a failure.
Where do I see myself at 30? The answer might disappoint the woken masses, but somewhere in New York,reading a book on the subway.
So here I am, letting go off the schackles that once held me back. Drinking a cappuccino in Taiwan. Not checking the time, because each an every minute spent here will not define an hour, but my entire lifetime.