Of Great Expectations

by John Paul Chacha on Wed, 5th Sep 2018. Read 3962 times.

When your dad was born in the 40s, life was hard. He grew up in poverty not expecting his life to amount to much, but he went to school and worked hard nonetheless just in case. When he finished school, he found himself in a world full of opportunities with a scarcity of educated people. He landed a job he never thought a person like him could ever land. Within a few short years, he was living the life; he had a decent home in the city, hunger was unheard of in his house and he was the talk of the village. Success galore.
Based on his experience, your dad brought you up to believe in a world full of opportunities for the educated, to believe that if he could get where he did with his humble background, then you, with the good background he had given you, will rise to the very top in no time at all. You'll finish university and immediately land a job with a six-figure salary, and within a few short years, you'll have worked your way up to top management.
Enter reality.
You finished your university education and were welcomed into a world where people are paid not for the papers they have, but rather for the tangible contributions and achievements they've made in the work environment and for the hands-on knowledge and skills they've gathered over the years. As a fresh graduate, you had none of that and were therefore next to useless to would-be employers; you had a head full of lecture-notes but you didn't know the work and couldn't hit the ground running. At least you had your campus sweetheart who still thought the world revolved around you.
At about the same time, social media checked in. Idle you joined the platform. Soon enough, you were bombarded with the images of the successes of your peers. Most were exaggerated and not just a little, but you didn't know that. Your friends were buying stuff and having a ball while poor you had only managed to get a lowly entry-level job that just paid you enough to survive. Your sweetie also joined social media and saw how her friends were being taken for holidays in Mauritius. Slowly, she started realizing that maybe you weren't all that and that maybe you were shit, and soon enough, she started telling you as much.
Your parents simply didn't understand -- why are you not CEO yet, yet you graduated top of your class? What is it that is preventing you from rising to the top in a world where drop-outs are CEOs? Your parents had basic education and nothing else but were able to gain a decent living; you had a middle-class upbringing and you hold a "serious" degree but you live like a rodent -- what is wrong with you?
Frustration starts checking in. Surely, you deserve better. You work as hard as you can but progress is slow at best. As you slump in your sofa thinking about your life, you realize that the millionaire being interviewed on TV is a familiar face -- isn't that the same guy who was accused of conning guys a while back? You start thinking, maybe you're doing this all wrong, surely, you'll take 100 years to become a millionaire on a 50k salary (at this point, you don't even realize that the vast majority of Kenyans earn less than a half of that). Maybe, just maybe, you need to find a faster way of making money. It might not be legal, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Maybe...
In his short story The Case of the Prison Monger, Hama Tuma observes that great expectations make frustrated men. Ladies and Gentlemen, there's a reason why so many people in our generation are turning to a life of crime and that reason is to be found somewhere between our very high expectations, our relatively humble realities and the very rosy images we see on social media.