“Parents are expecting more than ever before. They do not want to associate with their children who do not have money. In fact, they scorn them for being dumb and lazy”, says Mohamed Hassan, a businessman. Nowadays, for you to have a voice in the family you must be ‘loaded’, or so it seems. Age, indeed, has proven to be just a number. Your younger moneyed sister can dictate you.
Former US president, Theodore Roosevelt could once note that comparison is the theft of joy. And indeed, those in their twenties lack the joy. In comparing themselves with friends and if their achievements and goals match up with theirs, it gets maddening when on Instagram that they see photos of their holiday in Dubai, or a honeymoon in San Francisco’s Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. You find yourself becoming judgmental. You might find yourself thinking snide thoughts about developments in your friends’ lives, like “What’s so great about being married at 22-years old? How boring…” You might even compare yourself with your parents and what they had achieved by the time they were your age. And finally, comparing yourself with your own expectations, which you are just 10% done!
“No one prepares us for post-university revelations such as ‘dream jobs’ don’t exist (but unemployment does) and finding a ‘right one’ is virtually impossible”, says 23 year-old Julia Kivanga, a final year Sociology Student at The University of Nairobi.
Nikki Elot, 27, who runs Mwangaza Girls Educations Centre in Samburu, lived and worked in London for five years and readily admits she suffered from – and thankfully been through the quarter life crisis. “I would describe what I went through as a prolonged identity crisis,” she says. “Having been defined by education up until 22, it was very difficult to find my place in the real world. Aspects of my life suddenly didn’t count in the same way.” She has now found joy educating girls and saving them from early marriages, than her first world life in Britain’s capital.
Elsewhere, Phoebe Onwong’a, 25, and currently in a ‘dead-end job’ in a supplies company , confesses she’s panicking: “I recently wrote down goals I want to achieve by the time I am 30 and it’s terrifying how little time I have left.”
The new norm of not settling down
The world is increasingly pressurizing everyone, from babies and children to adults, to achieve their personal milestones in life as early as possible. When a lady surpasses the 25 year old mark, she becomes a subject of cruel speculation if she hasn’t rang wedding bells. Men may well be accused of having dead “transformers”, something that can kill self esteem.
Our parents had to deal with having babies younger which was arguably the bum deal. 29 year old Freshly Mwadeghu, agrees that three decades ago, the youth were nested in their goldmines with real-life things like marriage, jobs and babies. Fast-forward to today, Mwadeghu asserts, at the same age, we are paying through the nose to simply exist in Nairobi and would jump at the chance of owning a kiosk in our apartments. “In fact, most people under 27, when asked, have no plans of having babies”, he opines.
Clinical psychologist Dr Lucy Ngatia warns twentysomethings not to entertain confusion but rather start planning their lives right now. “Find the right partner as soon as possible, soul search on your passion, get committed to your goals and work hard”, Dr. Ngatia advises. According to Ngatia, people in their 20s are not moving forward with their lives because they are lazy and indecisive.
However, her colleague, Rachael Lozi, a professional counselor believes there is an upside to forcibly delaying your future. “Deciding to share your life with someone should not be an arbitrary goal. Marrying and starting a family as soon as you can is no guarantee of happiness. Arguably, you are better prepared if you mature as a single adult, instead of starting a family when you are still growing up. You can’t hurry love.”
Confused in jobs
It would seem that going to work Monday morning is a nightmare at daybreak. Most people, 80% according to Deloitte Kenya’s Shift Index survey, are dissatisfied with their jobs. While some unhappy employees muster up the courage to change careers, others opt to grin and bear it. What about when the career decision is not yours to make? “In the waning economy, company-downs have put many workers in an unexpected predicament” explains human resource expert Faith Mwendwa. Many youths who get laid off must re-evaluate their lives. And rather than pound the pavement for a new job, many are turning to entrepreneurship, which complicates their uncertainties, Mwendwa explains. As Economist Dr. Edwin Mwai observes, “With the unemployment rate apparently stuck at double digits, more people seem to be choosing a passion they are confused about or stay in jobs to survive”.
Father Dennis Ekeno, a Catholic priest advises that when you worry so much about work and money, they seem to be running further from you. “The best thing is to love what you do, put more effort. God always blesses those who give their best”.
But many Kenyans do not really love what they do, at least according to some studies. In a 2017 State of the Kenyan Workplace study by Moi University Human Resource finalists, 70 percent of the 7,000 people surveyed in various platforms described themselves as “disengaged” from their work. Those who show up but are “disengaged” made up the biggest category at 52 percent of workers. The remaining 18 percent are people actively disengaged — those who vocally express their discontent in the workplace.
The study takes a close look at the role of managers and their ability to inspire workers. Most of the discontent stemmed from “bosses from hell” who didn’t foster talents, growth, or creativity, especially for the recent graduates to join their companies. In the long run, it was estimated that between sh. 250 and sh.400 billion are wasted annually because of “bad managers” and disengaged young workers who hate their jobs. These losses arose from laziness at work, errors, truancy, conflicts and theft.
A 2016 research by Gallup International, an American Research firm, revealed findings that are striking if not surprising. The highest levels of dissatisfaction are in the Middle East and North Africa where 58% of people would be desperately unhappy at work. Algeria 63% and Tunisia 60%, had the unhappiest workers. Qatar, where many Kenyans are running to make the best showing, with 28% happy, 62% mildly unhappy and 10% hating their jobs. East Africa had 53 % unhappy workers, with Kenya leading at 56%. No wonder, Kenya has the most strict human resource regulations in workplaces as Griffins Wanjala of Peek Consultants opines.
The US had 30% happy in their work, 62% mildly happy and 18% who hated their jobs. Where do the happiest workers live? Panama, where 47% love their jobs, 41% are not engaged and 12% are very unhappy.
While their issues may reinforce the suspicion that they are not formed of special clay (the power of the youth), the challenges they face, by themselves may be a sign of early mastery without mature constraint, self-discovery at a moment when each revelation seems unique. But everything notwithstanding, the crisis rages on.
SIGNS OF THE QUARTER LIFE CRISIS
You get a little scared of your new age (no wonder many people say am just 22)
You get more concerned on dating the Mr. or Mrs. Right
Your parents start asking that inevitable question: “When are you going to have children?”
The fact you’ll never be so young, helpless, and innocent again keeps disturbing you
Second-hand jealousy and distancing yourself from the friends who are doing better in life
You start saying phrases like “remember five years ago, when we were in college…” and that will always trip you out
THINGS THAT CONSTANTLY WORRY TWENTY SOMETHINGS
Their looks/ figure
The clothes they have/wear
The places they live in
Getting rich quickly
Finding the right partner
Getting a housing
Getting a car
By ABUTA OGETO
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.