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27 Club

How old do I look?

No, SERIOUSLY! How old do I look?

Ever since I moved back home in 2019, I have developed a habit of asking complete strangers to guess my age. Of course, I must have hit it off well with them before looping them into my vanity. 

Anytime I posed this question to strangers (mostly ladies), they told me I look twenty three. At first, I couldn’t believe it! Me? Three years younger? After all the debauchery I put my body through in campus during the first half of my 20’s? 

Woo-hoo! 

This compliment has now become like music to my ears; my phone ringtone, my caller ring back tone and my alarm tone combined. I have showered, bathed, swam and drowned in it. Honestly, is there anything better than being told you look younger than your actual age? Growing old is a must but retaining a youthful visage while at it… 

Now that’s a flex. 

Funny, isn’t it? We spend our teen years wishing to grow up in an instant only to pray for the clock to wind back a decade after. 

In a fortnight’s time, I will be turning 27-years-old. 

If it were up to me, I would be crossing over to the new year in my own shack. My dream is still valid provided I can manage to win the lottery without buying a ticket or stroll into a tendering deal whilst minding my business in the streets of Nairobi (fingers crossed). 

If not, I will turn over the new leaf in my mother’s house. 

I don’t have anything planned out and I might not even do anything special on my special day but I can assure you I will definitely be in high spirits (no pun intended). 

My biggest worry isn’t when I will move out again or how long it will take to achieve my goals as I have scrapped off all the time constraints attached to them. I know I sound complacent but truth is, there are certain aspects of my life I ain’t worried about. 

As far as writing goes, I am no longer trying to prove anything because there’s nothing left for me to prove. I know how pure I am. I know how pure my art is. No matter what anybody thinks. This should not be confused for hubris.  I am still my biggest fan and worst critic in equal measure. 

The three-year hiatus, however, has undoubtedly left me hella rusty. Having not written entirely throughout the time period has eroded my writer’s discipline and left me struggling for form. I don’t know how long it will take for me to get out of this rut but I am sure if I keep showing up like I have been, then something will give. 

On the flipside, there are still other areas in my life that have me feeling unsettled. I don’t want to address them and I am better off avoiding the conversation altogether. I mean, what’s the point yet I do not plan to do anything about it? I am scared to pick myself up and begin again, so instead I opt to quit early. My only hope is that I will soon be able to confront my fears and embrace what can be.

In the meantime, all I am trying to do is to stay alive by taking each day at a time. 

What is giving me sleepless nights at the moment is how old I will look this coming year. Looking young is so important to me because I feel society has conditioned us to associate leaving the nest with success especially for the boy child. For a man to still be in their parent’s house past the legal age is criminal. The earlier one leaves, the brighter the future. The longer you stay, the bleaker the future.

Since it’s impossible to turn back the years, I find solace in knowing the years are not written on my face (figuratively speaking). Actually, I fancied myself subtracting a year off from my current real age. The year less would be as a courtesy of the pesa kidogo I am earning. Money is said to be the real glow, no? 

Twenty-seven will therefore be the new twenty-two. The big two-two, mind you, was lit right from the start! 

Unfortunately, a month ago, someone decided to burst my growing younger bubble. The harsh reality check came on my way back from my first physical office meeting of the year. It was served by a lady called Sheila, an acquaintance I made as I exited the office building. 

In between small talk, I asked her – like I had asked so many before – to guess my age and, after sizing me up head to toe, she concluded that I was 25 or 26. I instantaneously became self-conscious but somehow managed to still keep a straight face. How the hell had my actual age almost caught up with my perceived age? Sure, she had given me the allowance of a year less but that did my ego no good. 

I wondered what led her to make such a nearly accurate prediction. Is it the purple shirt I was wearing? Because, my mother had recently suggested it had become too fitting. Is it my haircut? Did the barber leave too much or too little hair on my head? Has my hairline started receding this early? Was it the beard? No, I’ve gone too far. It can never be the beard, the beard is divine. Or maybe, could it simply be that my real age is finally catching up with me?

Anyways, we talked some more before parting ways and as I made my way to the bus stop to catch a ride back home, I couldn’t help but feel – wait for it – old.

***

I struggle to write about my present day life out of fear of being misunderstood. For you to truly comprehend where I am at now, you must first understand where I have come from and what I have been through – more or less. And this can only happen if I take an introspective look into my life which must be carried out in a chronological order for the dots to connect. Otherwise, if I start speaking right off the bat, y’all might think I’m trippin’.

But since you’re such a great crowd, what better way to close out this perfect rectangular month which occurs every 200 years than by giving you a snippet of where my head’s at courtesy of the Monday morning virtual office meeting we had a fortnight ago. 

As is the norm, we kick off every start of the week meeting with an ice breaker. A random, introspective and fun question everyone has to answer. 

What would you tell the 18-year-old you? 

Save… Shoot your shot… Life isn’t a bed of roses… Take risks…

These are some of the answers my colleagues gave for the question. No doubt, I can totally relate with all their sentiments and I am sure you do too. 

When my turn to speak came, I unmuted my mic and without a second’s thought told the kid I was before…

Congratulations! You’re going to rock star heaven.

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6 Responses

  1. You have a way with words. This is beautiful writing.. I love the way you write.. Also can I get a picture of that divine beard… Lastly, what would I tell my 18-year-old self, I wish you placed more value on yourself.. .. Would have saved us from a lot of BS

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