Nobody listens when you cry foul, when you say things like ‘life is unfair’ because life has never been fair. Life is a fast sailing boat that does not wait for those in the crowd who are not sure where they are headed. You have to man up (whatever that means) and chose your path, fight against all odds to be the one who wears a smile instead of the rest of the crowd that is just going through the cycle of life unfulfilled.
You just closed the high school door behind you, you are officially an adult. This is the moment you have been waiting for all your life. University is your next stop, it is your ticket out of the slum, out of the village. You will finally build your folks that maisonette house because your current mud walled one is one of the few remaining ones in your village. Everybody else has somehow managed to uproot themselves from poverty but your folks. For this reason, your excelling in school despite the meager finances available to pay your fee has brought back life into your homestead.
University is finally here, your good grades got you into Nairobi University, the University in the city, you chose this science course because someone told you that science nerds never lack jobs after graduation and the main reason you are in school is to get that express ticket out of poverty. You settle into your classes, there is this hype group of students who rarely show up for classes, yet when the show up they have new outfits, flashy watches or the newest trendy phone They are what you call, free spirits. They have everything you have never had, everything you will never have unless you get a good job after campus. They have already explored half of Nairobi in the two weeks you have been there. You don’t know how that kind of lifestyle is possible because you are surviving on the little money you got from the higher education loans board. All that that money can afford you is regular meals and shopping for a few clothes at ‘Gikomba’ the second hand clothes open market that has been an answered prayer for you as you can now upgrade your wardrobe
Its two years into university, your friends have side hustles and no longer show up for classes but for you, you are still hanging onto the ‘’going for classes thing’’ and being present for the long laboratory experiments sessions in the afternoon even though you would rather be asleep because you need to get that first class honors. Four years down the line, your hard work pays off, your transcripts are an envy of most of your classmates. The problem is in your fourth year you found a new interest. You did not go looking for it actually, it found you. Your friend from this prayer group that meets up every Saturday knows how hardworking you are at your classwork and since they needed assistants on this business they had been working on, they asked you because you will probably put in the same hard work into the business as you do in class.
Within no time, your heart is knee deep into the business despite excelling in your course work. You are torn between delving into the job search like the rest of your crew or throwing all your energy into making your new business idea work. You have been reading those motivational books that emphasize on doing the things that you love, because if you do you are likely to excel.
One year down the line, after a lot of soul searching you realize you love the business, each part of the cycle gives you goose bumps from the first step of acquiring the items you need to sell to your client to the tedious but fulfilling process of convincing customers that your product is the best and they cannot live without it.
Graduation has come and gone, you have left the safety net of your hostels. The small monies you used to get from the higher education loans board are no longer coming in, so how do you get fresh stock for your young business? You can barely afford transport for your day to day mobility since you moved into one of those cheap East Lands neighborhood.
Six months down the line you cave in to your reality. The reality, that you need capital investment to get this ‘biashara’ running otherwise your kiosk set up will remain just that. It is at this point in time you get that first class honors degree out and start the job search because your parents have started making endless phone calls wanting you to chip in on your brother’s high school fee and their day to day upkeep and your business is not exactly going your way. The biashara dream will have to wait for a while you need to chase the coins first.
The ‘do what you love narrative’’ favors the privileged. millennials from families that have already amassed fortunes have it easier in life. They have more time to concentrate their energies into their passion without having to worry about being their parents or siblings support system. Getting into business requires an initial capital investment that has to come from somewhere. A not for profit start up needs you to have a big heart, the desire to impact society and a little money to get you going for the first few months or years before that big donor comes along and buys into your dream. That is why young people from the lower class may not have the privilege of doing what they love, what with them carrying the burden of their family needs on their shoulders. Most times their dreams have to be shelved a little longer. They have to work the system either in public service or in private companies instead of jumping right in to doing what they love. These responsibilities weigh them down and before long, their youth is gone and it takes along their dreams.
Am not saying that lacking the financial wherewithal to chase after your dreams should stop you, am just saying it is harder for a young person from the lower class in society to focus on their passion. There will always be bills to pay, siblings to support and before long they have their own kids to think about. Within this time their dream to one day follow their passion becomes a mirage, frustration and discontentment at their work place sets in and becomes their story. The only thing that keeps most people going in this system is the dream that their children will have a better chance in life, that they will not have to start from the bottom. That their children’s dreams will one day see the light of day.