What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

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Today you may want to borrow a low stool in order to read this. We don’t want you sneezing off your high chair, those that exist in bars. Things at one time become hard to swallow, even the simplest of them. The intricate stuff is treated with uncertainty and fear because who wants to run into a mess? Fear of reading stuff that hurts our ego can be very boring, yet encouraging at the same time. It can turn you to a proud , brute animal (at the thought of reading it). An animal that does not desire to be given direction about life.

You will meet these young kids, in or out of college, who think that they know everything. I want to tell you that life is not your pet to keep treating it like it will suck your nipples at the end of the day, or offer you a massage when the sun disappears. You may want to be given direction, at all times.

I don’t know how much you hate handwritings that write motivational stories. I don’t care. These are stories that I have lived upon. I know how they smell, taste and nourish.

Today’s piece is brief. I mean it’s not a lecture. Not from my hands though. Foreign hands that are operating this new minefield. You tell him if he can keep on mining or he just got blown up. My hands cease here.

Enjoy the ride folks.


In my (not) too well lived life so far, I have learnt to ask undergraduates two questions: one, what they would love to become when they grow up; and two, whether they have ever really met themselves when they look in the mirror. Interestingly for most, there is an indelible difference between answers to these questions, say at age-16; and answers for the same at age-27. Simply the What-You- See-Is- What-You- Are-Getting (WYSIWYG) computing mantra gradually shifts to ‘You-Have-No- Idea-What- You-Get’ (YHNIWYG)…in which case what you see doesn’t matter.


Many a times, an individual is unable to reconcile the discrepancy between what s/he should have been and what s/he has become; under the proximity of irreversibly lost time – so much so that it negatively impacts on his/her psycho-social existence. This condition is referred to as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is generally common throughout life’s social and economic transitional phases. It is characterized by impulsivity; and, self and interpersonal affective instability. Its symptoms span from anger/irritability; extreme fear of abandonment; idealization-vs.- devaluation of others; split self-image to suicidal tendencies on extreme cases.


The most common of life’s unrealized dreams relate to: poverty, family strife, separation/divorce, joblessness, career mismatch/job stagnation, academic failure, bereavement, unhappy childhood,lost investment, paraplegia, peri-menopause, childlessness, terminal illness or even pre-retirement depression.


Then, as we grow older, how do we confess that things that you had ardently hoped to achieve are never coming to pass? And how do we do so without falling into desolation? How do we accept that life is a series of circumstances in which we don’t continually win even if we are princes, kings or noblemen born on a golden beer-stools in the Elysian Fields? How do we attain radical acceptance (the freedom to still live a fulfilling and vibrant life)?

In my logician thought; there are only five things we can do about lost dreams:

One: Solve the problem by changing the situation or leaving it.

Two: Change how we feel about the problem with focus on gaining from it.

Three: Radically accept and live with it.

Four: Stay miserable. Whine. Blame the sun, rain, moon and all people around us.

Five: Make things worse.

Life’s pendulum oscillates between What-You- See-Is- What-You- Get on one end; and ‘You-

Have-No- Idea-What- You-Get’ on the other. Interestingly, we are the gongs that pump the energy that masters this pendulum. Only that the duration and the (dis)order towards which we would tend in realizing or losing our life’s whole ambitions depends the options we embrace from the five approaches above. The younger we are, the higher are our second chances. We can make things worse.

Remember, a squirrel in the savannah does not become a monkey in the prairie; nor does it a goddess in the pampas.


Story credit: Faraj Nyanchong’a

Photo credit:wejs

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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Today have really struggled to connect. Good piece though