The thing about growing up
Or what happens when you get a little bit mindful about your choices
I know you don’t read a lot of my stuff and…
I read your stuff- she cut in.
So…you read about the time when I got my heart broken and I cried for a day?, I said, half hoping she’d say no.
Yes, my Mum replied, I read that.
So, I had a Whatsapp Call with a special someone today. We’re a typical Cameroonian family: we talk about plans for the future without trying to express our personal, usually differing, ideals; we spend christmas together — the first few days blissful, except for when the undying skeletons creep; we love each other but, when anyone says “I love you”, there is this, slight, very, uncomfortable, pause. *clears throat*
Ergo, the idea of a conversation in which we’d talk about my career, plans for the future, my dissatisfaction with my role as the first child, my opinion about her career, my relationships, and my take on responsibility, goes further to cement a singular thought I’ve been having:
I may actually be growing up. Dammit.
You see, this year: I had the best birthday gift, I gained more gratitude for the people in my life, I loved, I destroyed ( single handedly, and I am not being self-deprecating here) one of the strongest bonds I had ever forged with a friend- a brother. I’m still reeling from that loss. I’ll be okay. Thanks for asking.
It’s incredulous how much I have been able to handle these situations.
Disclaimer: I had help from colleagues, friends and family. I just like to think that I am a hero. Meh.
Anyway, my mother and I talked. Remember the part where I said we were a typical Cameroonian family? Well, I lied. What can I say? I love me some drama. *wink*
We’re atypical. My siblings definitely have their own narrative about this, but, from my vantage point, having parents who actually make an argument for their decisions in your life, isn’t exactly “ Cameroonian”.
Normally, if you’re smart, you become a medical doctor. No questions asked. If you don’t make it through entrance exam- you do biochemistry, ace it, get a scholarship and leave the country. And oh, if you’re the first child, don’t forget to reel in your siblings when you get “established”. Whatever established means.
I have a tendency to replay important conversations in my head- text messages, meaningful encounters- like that time in the restaurant. I seem almost out of my body listening to myself — fragmenting my thought process. Of course, in time, these recollections become flawed. I try as much possible to milk them before I can’t trust the details.
If the one with Mum today is fresh, then I can rely on my conclusions:
1. You’re never too old to be a kid
I have come to terms with the fact that my mother will always worry. Same for my father. It was a pain the size of a hard drive at some point in my life( read: until very recently). Now, it feels more like a piece of fish in my spacious teeth- it’s annoying, but I can take it out when I want to. Plus, it feels sort of nice, you know. *smiles*
I feel really old at 27. Well… sometimes. But, the people I hangout with make me feel like a kid. All the time. I love the balance. It keeps me in check. And I know I can always count on my mother — she’ll worry, complain, try to make me get a ‘safe’ career path — because that is her job.
2. Sometimes, you need to stop being a kid
I’m currently working with a team that suits and stretches my skills. I don’t get time to “relax”. The work is challenging. For a lazy, stubborn writer like me, I looove ditching projects half-way. Once I don’t like an idea- meh. Dead.
With work ( and with life), I can’t do that. The team counts on me. The mission must be completed! (Did someone say Metal Slug?) I cannot run to my mother and say: sorry. I know my parents will always (want to) be there for me. And I get it- I won the parent lottery. I am certain that when I my own child, it will be the exact same feeling. However, in gratitude for what they’ve done for me , I need to get my life together. For them. For me.
3. “Sometimes, you need to leave your family, so that you can be stable enough to help your family” — hK:
A friend said that to me months ago. I was worried about how best to get to my siblings on ze search of a career. Isn’t it ironic how good I am at proffering advice I have a hard time heeding?
Today, I told my mother about how much she had no choice when it came to worrying about me and my siblings. And how I did. I have a choice. I cannot let my first born son incontinence ( is that even a thing?) stop me from living “my life”. I have goals, dreams, and plans. Lists of books to publish. Podcast conversations to have. Scripts to finish. Ideas to test. Places to see. If I get hung up on solving family problems ( I don’t have that many, trust me. I just take them a tad too seriously), when do I get the time to make my dent? I need to chill.
Inner self: yeah dude, chill ( I just watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” *grins* * does 3 second air guitar solo*
Like when I said “ I love you” at the end of the conversation. We’re not living ze dream. Our bank accounts aren’t sputtering passive income. My job isn’t “fun”. My parents are not “the world’s best parents”. Heck, I don’t even have a couch! ( I’m working on the couch part though. Thanks Q. :) ).
After my recent break-up, I internalized my pain. It was a lot of pain for me. I justified it with messages, texts, contexts. I even went back to work with more vigor. Then, I had a one day crash — and a one week crash. Then I wrote this.
With my return from ze dark side, I started mindfulness: I label my thoughts — useful, useless — depending on what they are at the time.
I don’t need to “delete” the thoughts. I just need to know — is this useful? Is this useless? That’s it. It takes practice. And I am pretty bad at it ( getting there…). But I know this keeps me from replaying unnecessary conversations. I may not be the happiest person on earth, but I know I am responsible for how I feel about whatever happens to me.
I still have a lot of things to figure out. I still want to travel and write. I still want to have epic conversations (even though my LGG4 gave up on me and I lost months of conversations and pictures that I will never recover * takes deep breath to calm himself down*). I have a lot of things I need to work on. And, I have someone who will die for me if she needed to.
I know she won’t read this ( she actually hardly reads my work. I mean…come on…why are you reading this self-deprecating renegade ramble?), just know that I love you Mum.
And I love you too for reading this far. Thank you.
This is not to all the Mums. This is not to all the friends who make our lives worth it. This is not to hard workers and sweet colleagues. This is not to adorable siblings and best friends.
This is to you who finds a reason to be grateful and to keep being better at growing up.
Tchassa Kamga lives in Buea, Cameroon. This part of the country just got its internet reinstated! Previously, he’s had to travel a long distance to post. However, this was written in his pyjamas. At home. Under myopic influence.
He’s learning the intricacies of curating events and documenting them at the fine dining restaurant and cultural hub- IYA Buea. He has three episodes on his podcast . He also takes blatant pictures on Instagram.
He co-writes with C. Befoune ( he has a not-so secret crush on her) on this publication — Self-ish . Their goal is to share the lessons they’ve learnt from multiple sources in the domains of Self-improvement, Content Creation and Human Relationships.