Chiamaka talks birthdays, non-actualized desires, new ages and the deep urge of finality that many people may find sinks in on days that call for happiness.
●17th April 2023
Everyone knows that expectations are the killer of joy. Yet, we find so many ways of letting expectations dictate or even rule our lives. We make them the author and finisher of our fate. Growing up, I let the desire to be thin, slimmer than I was at the time, take precedence over enjoying what little pockets of joy I found. It was a perilous desire, because it was directly supported by every person who mattered in the outside world. My parents desired it, my extended family desired it, all my romantic interests also desired it. The choice between what I was and what I could be became the routine of the day on all my special moments. Birthday depression came to me every year. I was depressed on my tenth-year birthday — the earliest I can remember — so depressed that I rationalized not asking anyone to celebrate me. Both my siblings got big parties for their 10th. I got taken to lunch at Mama Cass, by myself, with my parents who were probably fighting the entire time there. No friends, no joy, nothing.
This was honestly the theme for my birthdays till I was my 23. It would have been when I was 22 but I spent that in lockdown. I learnt a lot from expectations during birthdays and what that meant to me coming of age. My mother is similar to me, she’s also a serial planner, so she likes to think ahead. One of the questions she constantly posed to me while growing was “What are you goals five years from now? Ten years from now?” Now that I am older, she asks me if I am aware of what my age should mean. Many of her age-mates were married before this age, although she got married later in life. She does not want that for us. She also wants us to be further in our careers. My mother wants love and stability in her children’s life, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The only issue is that chasing these strict rigidity and rules for life turns you miserable, quick. Since your life must look a certain manner in order to be perfect, you fail to see what good your current reality has to offer. You often find yourself obsessing over your past mistakes, what could have been and how terrible you have become in the now. You find yourself fantasizing about ‘running away’. This all becomes worse as you turn a new age, when the deadline of the hunt for that elusive dream becomes one year closer.
Personally, I will not say I have hacked feeling very contented in all aspects of my life. I honestly cannot tell you if that is a real feeling or just some tall tale that people tout so the world does not burn. What I will say is embrace the moment. Enjoying your life for what it is now, rather than all the standards set by people who do not even really know you. Nobody better understands any other person’s path than they themselves, so it is very important to stop allowing people speak negativity over our business. “You are not married by thirty? Oh, you would never get married then.” or “How are you in your forties and just getting a Masters?” The truth is, life is dynamic and it keeps on giving. Nothing wrong with having faith or setting goals, but hold the effort to keep going despite sidetracks on your journey close. You never know, what could look like a misstep might just turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
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