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Friday, December 3, 2010

From The Archives: Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Written By: Kara WeeksAargh! I remember as a child, I could not wait to become a teenager. And as a teenager, I could not wait to be a young adult, so I could hang out with the college kids. Entering college, I wanted to be 21 and above, truly independent …nobody telling me what to do, who to see, where to go. I am past that point now, in my mid-twenties, and how I wish I could go back to those golden years of my childhood.

Being an adult is not all it’s cracked up to be. Nobody told me about all the "un-fun" responsibilities that come along with adulthood. And if they told me, they probably sugarcoated it. So here I am, about to graduate with my second degree, about to go out into the real world, and I have come to the realization that being an independent adult ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Case in point … I have written and rewritten at least ten drafts of my resume in the past three months. I have written more than enough cover letters. I have lost track of the number of jobs I have applied for. I currently have accounts on MonsterTrak, Careerbuilder, Yahoo Jobs, and
numerous other job websites. I spend multiple hours a day hunting for jobs. Just looking for a job IS a job in itself. That’s why there are job agencies out there…supposedly taking the stress off you.

I just want some money to live my life. Why didn’t anybody tell me as a child to savor the moments of mummy and daddy paying for everything (well, some of the things) I wanted? Nobody told me that growing up meant I would actually have to get up day in and day out, working at some dreary job just so I could pay bills and taxes (damn you, Mr. IRS Man!). I guess it never really dawned on me that Mummy and Daddy were actually working for that money to buy me pretty dresses, bicycles, and whatnot. Growing up is hard to do!

Ah, love. Love, love, love. How many story books and fairy tales and Disney princess movies did we get entertained with as little girls? Look at Cinderella…she met her one prince, fell in love, and lived happily ever after. Look at Snow White … she too, met her one prince, fell in love, and lived happily ever after. Belle, Princess Jasmine, Pocahontas, Ariel and their fair counterparts, all met their one true love and lived happily ever after. Naturally, having these “role models” to look up to, one would think that all a woman has to do is go running in an open field, sing in a lovely voice (surrounded by cuddly, furry little animals, birds and butterflies), and wait for her only love to ride in gallantly and sweep her off her feet, right?

Wrong! So very wrong! Damn you too, Disney! In the recent past, I have encountered 3 Prince Charmings—and by that, I mean, any woman would be lucky to have these fellows. How about Prince Charming #1 is getting married in a few weeks? Oh, and did I mention that Prince Charming #2 is in a long-term relationship (he’s also an ex, but that’s another story for another day). And Prince Charming # 3 is …not interested in me! I guess Cinderella and her friends never had to go through the angst of failed love, flings, cheating men, etc. Well, I have. In the past few years, I have had a couple of failed relationships. I have had my heart broken. I may have broken some hearts too. The point is, as a child, I was naively unaware that being an adult would mean crying over the complicated world of relationships. Growing up is hard to do!

Let’s not even get into what is expected of us as adults. The expectations and responsibilities heaped on us …as adults, as Africans, as women …as adult African women! For many of us, the first expectation after leaving secondary school is to go to university … that’s easy enough. However, once we cross that point, there comes an unending cry from family members as to our next order of business …”We want to follow you down the aisle! We want grandchildren! Hurry up and stop wasting time.” Excuse me, but what happened to my career? After all, I was sent to university for a reason. “But noooo!” they cry. A woman is incomplete until she finds a husband and bears children for the world to play with.

Truth be told, I actually would not mind fulfilling this responsibility. But really … do I have to hear about how I am failing the family because I am unmarried in my mid-twenties? Every time one of my friends gets engaged or gets married or has a cute little person, I have to be reminded of my shortcomings. It is so frustrating. Growing up is hard to do! I miss my childhood. I miss the innocence. I miss the days of looking at the world and its inhabitants through rose-colored glasses. I miss the days when my biggest worry was whether Tom would catch Jerry and eat him. I miss having Mummy and Daddy as my source of income—ok,
allowance. I miss having recess and playing with my friends in school. I miss being able to eat ice cream everyday, and still be that dark, skinny, little girl because I was always running around. I miss not having a care in the world, other than whether my dress matched my shoes for the birthday parties I would attend. Growing up is hard to do!


Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I feel that way too. The economy sucks so much right now, I've given up job hunting. Until I get my degree (I graduate this year) I have zero shots at finding work. And even with a degree, I doubt I'll find a job 6 months after I graduate to start paying back my student loans.

Life's a bitch.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea things would be as hard as they are. I thought that with an education everything would fall into place, but I've just traded old problems for new problems. It's not easy at all.

Mon petite Niche said...

This without no doubt is my biography thus far. It took me 6 months after graduating to land a job. A job which i am over qualified and under paid for. But i took it because little money is better than no money as i keep hunting for something better. I am also tired of the whole marriage thing.I say its become a "fad" in the african community to be engaged at 24th. Thank God for science and technology, I will have children when am good and ready too, with or without a man! lol

The Soul Sistas said...

The many pressures of being an African woman. I can relate to everything. We are encouraged to be educated, successful, yet by age 25 (the arbitraty turningpoint) expected to stop everything for family responsibilities and wifely duties. I do look forward to wife-and mother-hood someday, but not based on others' timing. I still get blunt messages from my aunts saying "quit wasting time and settle down"...Life is not a dress-rehearsal, I would rather make my choices and take responsibility for the consequences. I enjoyed this =)