Being 26

Caveat: This is a 500 word piece. One of those pieces that seem to have a backbone but is still on crutches If you have something more important to do I’d suggest finishing it first before coming back to watch me limp to the ending of this piece.
I don’t know why I promised my mother grandchildren within 5 years, maybe it was the surety I had that everything will fall into place, that I would be the youngest CEO and making bank at 26. Or the smile that came to her eyes with the hope of the family progeny growing, whatever the reason was, it was a big mistake. She calls every week asking whether I’ve met a worthwhile man in the streets of Nairobi. I’m afraid to tell her that I think the good ones are taken and the ones left I have to fix.
All my friends are married, engaged or in long term relationships and expecting the blood of their blood. They always seem happy, like the sun shone brighter through their windows than it did in my one bedroom apartment in Rongai. They live in neighborhoods that are way above my paygrade in the suburbs of the city, where there are guards at their gates and paved roads. So you can imagine what the monthly Chama meetings are like. Perfectly manicured nails tapping on expensive screens showing pictures of pregnancy bumps with the hubby. The painfully extended ‘awwwws’ when the photos are shared to the WhatsApp group.
At 26, I work in a Finance office at the CBD, clocking in at 8 am every morning for coffee rounds and newspaper ferrying from office to office. A first class honors graduate working as the receptionist and the intern, making meager amounts that barely take care of my rent. I lie about my job. Lord knows I’m too proud to ask for help, for all the world knows is the CFO of this little institution and I dress the part. My boss is a 40 year old misogynist, a man who thinks courtesy should not be wasted on women unless you’re trying to bed her. I spit in his coffee.
At 26, the word around is that I cannot keep a man, that I read the likes of Chimamanda and my head grew big, that I could not submit to a man because I was too high up on my feminist horse that’s why I’ll never get married.
If you asked me at nineteen what I wanted to be by the age of 26, I would have told you I wanted to be a CFO, Big car, big house and vacations in the Maldives every month. A man was never in my vision board, maybe because I expected he’d swoop me up by then. At 26, I have come to realize people’s opinions don’t matter. That my dear mother can wait a little longer and that I cannot keep spitting in my boss’ coffee. That it’s okay to start again.
So as I sit in Sunday’s chama meeting looking at the women around me who’ve known me for 10years, watching as Lizzie orders a glass of wine that will dent a hole in my pocket, I’ve decided to ask for help because that’s what life lessons do to you. Teach you that pride will not take you anywhere you want to be, not to the CFO position or the big car, but the support you have keeps you fighting and motivated.

Image credits @egara nneka

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