The teenage years are behind me as of yesterday, and if ever I had ambivalence dominating my thoughts, this is it. And it’s not only because I recently became privy to the knowledge that adolescence in many people does not end until they are going on 22, and I am desperate not to fall under that category of people. Of course I’m elated that the suffix ‘teen’ has been discarded from my age. Even though there are those who insist on going with ‘twenteen’ just to spite me. There’s a stark difference between introducing yourself and saying you’re 19 and introducing yourself and saying you’re 20. In the first case, guys that are approaching 30, have a spouse and a three year old look at you and think “The poor thing! When will she ever even finish school? And puberty hit her hard, look at that acne!” In the second scenario they think, “Ah, I remember when I was twenty…good times.”
But as much as I’m all jubilation at this new found identity, I can’t help but think, two decades and what have I to show for it? It’s a common thought among us ‘pessimists’ whenever the declaration comes rolling round that you’re a year closer to… whatever it is you think of getting closer to. I mean, yaaay, another year of the Lord’s goodness, but so what? You know that sudden realization that you have very many chances of becoming another statistic. Another Kenyan working, raising a family, paying mortgages and taking loans till retirement. Another Kenyan lamenting about inflation and insecurity and getting late to every event and meeting you’re supposed to attend. Another Kenyan moving from Buruburu to Kinoo to Kileleshwa, from galaxy to galaxy because you can’t yet afford an iPhone. Another Kenyan taking holiday trips to Mombasa and going back to work on Mondays still feeling exhausted and like the weekend should be at least four days long. Just another Kenyan. Nothing special. You’re not winning any awards, nobody recognizes you on the streets except the guy you used to buy smokies from back when you lived in Buru. He now has a business in Ngara and life is good. You’re not driving that Discovery you knew you would drive by the time you’re 35 because you thought you’d only be employed for two years then venture into your own business and be rich enough to be golf buddies with Manu Chandaria. Does he even play golf? He always gave you a ‘cricket’ vibe. And you definitely didn’t open that children’s home/ school that you were to open so that you give back to the society that has given you so much support on your ‘rollercoaster that only goes up’ (looking at you Augustus Waters).
No. None of that happened. And somehow, you really don’t know why. Just another Kenyan.
What’s wrong with being just another Kenyan? What’s so wrong with leading a quiet, normal life, without people turning when you walk into Highlands for a quick lunch? Why is it sad when our lives follow the same trajectory as everybody else’s?
Maybe it’s the dreams that we abandoned that return to haunt us, telling us we could have done better.
Maybe we don’t want to be like everybody else.
I don’t know.
I think, though, that I’d be okay with being just another Kenyan if I knew I had used up all the capacity that was within me. So not everyone was destined for greatness. Some of us were not born great, will not achieve greatness, and will not have greatness thrust upon us. Not if greatness means plenty of money, fame, and holidays in Barbados with the occasional fashion extravaganza in Milan.
But if greatness is used in reference to a heart that loves fully, and doesn’t run out of goodness; a fortitude of character that comes with experience and revelations of who God is; a testimony of refinement from coarse and natural to polished and supernatural; if greatness means that those around me will feel immense loss when I’m gone, then yeah, bring on the greatness. I wouldn’t mind a side of financial security with that though.
As I start my twentieth year on earth, I know what I want my life to become, what I hope my life is becoming. And it is in this verse:
‘…And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord, and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…’ (Colossians 1:10)
Can I get an Amen?

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