Grown Ups and Downs
“I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honour our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old.” — Maya Angelou
Do you ever side eye some of these ‘social norms’ and think ‘this is so fucking weird to me!’
At some stage in our ‘kidulthood’ (or between sixteen and twenty), there is this collective cajoling for us to put away ‘childish’ things. Basically, all the stuff we absolute love doing like building Lego, drawing or riding bikes just because it’s fun — and not to actually get somewhere.
We’re encouraged to trade in our fun cards, for this bullshit idea of success being wrapped up in adulthood. This conditioning of the psyche that dictates these ‘grown things’ we do are a measure of our morality as humans.
But, aren’t kids successful for not being jerks and managing to stay full of wonder — whilst maintaining a good balance of mental health by being their carefree selves and just travelling light?
Us grown folks, we’re out here still looking for this ‘somewhere over the rainbow’, but instead, we tend to get stuck in this system where you get to worry about paying bills and death — and getting a job where you’re micro managed by some other adult you’re trying not to piss off too much — so you don’t get sacked and have to worry even more about paying bills and death — and feeding the children you now have — until they get grown and you hand them the baton to do the same shit all over again. *exhales*
When I was twenty seven, I started working as a Civil Servant (a kind of Head Office scenario if you will *coughs). It felt like a real ‘adult’ job, you know, high pressure environment, long arse shifts through the nights and weekends and actually being useful to people.
I paid my bills, fed my children, kept a roof over our heads and worried that doing this shit until retirement age, was the quickest route to an early death. Yep, I did what I was supposed to do, I signed up for this shit deal and called it living.
Twelve years into working my job, I knew I was hanging on by a thread that I wanted to set fire to. I felt like a trapped firefly in a jar, suffocating — dying a slow death, but so desperate to live.
I needed to do something, not just the shit I’m supposed to do whilst I grew old, not just living for the ‘idea’ of the weekend — where you get to bring stuff you actually love back to life somewhere within those magical forty eight hours.
So, I did a Ferris Bueller — and pulled a ‘sicky’. What can I say, it had been on my ‘fuck it’ list for the longest.
I clocked that Janet Jackson was going on a world tour. One of her tour dates would be in September in Miami, so I thought — ‘fuck it! I’m going to Miami to catch up with the Sun for the weekend and see Janet Jackson in concert.’ I roped in my younger sister, bought our tickets and off we flew.
Well, the Sun certainly came out in force in Miami, we definitely caught it. I almost passed out with sun stroke, breaking a sweat whilst leisurely strolling along to the shops. By the the time we got back to the beach — I was already a shade darker, a sun-kissed melaninaire in need of about a gallon of water.
We rode bicycles by the beach later that afternoon, something I hadn’t done since I was about fourteen. I thought I’d forgotten how at first by the amount of wobbling I was doing, I was pretty far from stylish for a minute — but I was giddy as fuck with unadulterated joy.
The next day, I got a missed call and voicemail from my manager saying he was just checking up on me, but if he didn’t hear from me, he would have to come to my house to confirm my welfare.
Not gonna lie, I panicked and thought I was about to get sacked. I bit the bullet anyway, and rang him back as requested. I blagged it when he questioned the sudden switch to an American accent on my automated voicemail message, I just said something like ‘oh, not sure what that’s about’ and kept it moving.
After reassuring him that I wasn’t about to die on my sick bed, I swiftly ended the call. By then, I figured — well I’m here now, so just kept calm and carried on.
Off to an Art gallery I went, right there in Miami, after so many years, I got to see art up close and personal again. I happened across the work/painting of Nigerian artist Kehinde Wiley (he painted Barack Obama’s portrait last year), and thought ‘what a gift.’
We got caught in an epic rainstorm on the way to the concert, not unlike the ones in those disaster movies. Regardless, Janet got on stage and did her thing. Good times were had.
On my return, my manager just asked if I was feeling better — and that was that.
To this day, I’m not sure how I got away with it. What I am sure of, is just like Beyonce said ‘I ain’t sorry.’
I finally quit my job after almost fifteen years. I’m still wilfully unemployed doing my best not to sign up to another shitty deal.
Last month, I couldn’t pay my rent for the first time ever, bills, bills, bills are raining down on me. I really don’t know from here how I’m going to pay rent/mortgage, said bills, feed myself and my children, run my car and keep finding parking that doesn’t get me a ticket, and keep the roof over our heads. *shrugs shoulders*
I reminisce in waves, let them take me under for awhile, because sometimes, it’s difficult to believe that life is only this harsh thing that cuts you open — and wants you to constantly swim with sharks.
Before my body and mind consider betraying me, by dwindling into a total mess — I want to learn how to Azonto just because it’s fun, I want to sing along to tunes like ‘Millionaire’ by Kelis at the top of my lungs ‘I ain’t rich, til he is rich, and she is rich, then we is rich oh’, I want to write what I feel and share it just because I want to — and honestly, it would be a beaut touch to pay my rent and bills doing what I want.
I can be petulant sometimes, but I’m not a total arsehole. I just like what I like and want what I want.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” — Maya Angelou
Maybe, I’m just an overgrown kid. I’m okay with that.
When I grow up, I want to be just like the Sun — and just shine anyway, all over this fucked up world.