Youthful Memories Are Priceless
I did everything in my power to avoid looking forward. Having no life plan and going-with-the flow was the final act of rebellion.
At 50 I realised my mid-life crisis had, in fact, been a whole-life crisis.
My parents migrated from Lagos, Nigeria to Europe in the 80s. I turned twenty-two and saw my first snowflake which sparked a curiosity that never ceased: who will I be in this new land? My family were extremely traditional, conservative Christians. They were proud, in the fragile sense. They created a contradictory environment in our household as they instilled a fear of change whilst taking me miles away from my home. They thought a longing to conform would quench my thirst for new experiences. But that thirst became a craving, which grew into an overwhelming hunger to break out and be free.
We were taught to marry well, amass multiple degrees and earn a good living in a ‘respected’ career. After failing school, I brought shame on my father, my family and my Tribe. But I liberated myself. It wasn’t intentional, but looking back, the F on my report letter is my greatest achievement.
I have worked in hospitality my whole life. The waitressing jobs never paid well, but what I lacked in my purse I made up for with sheer joy! The late nights out with friends sharing a cab on our last few coins created ever-lasting heart-shaped memories. The customers with long and winding stories of their travels weren't dissimilar to a stamp in my own passport. See, stories allowed me to stay present, admiring someone else's past as I avoided my own. I did everything in my power to avoid looking forward. Having no life plan and going-with-the flow was the final act of rebellion.
Historians will tell you most rebellions end tragically. The fairytales of my youth did not come with the disclaimer that without inheritance, I need a pension. The thousands of lottery tickets I have bought have made their way to the recycling bin as quickly as my landlord raised the rent.
They meant it when they said memories were priceless. They are also worthless to the bank.
My hope is that younger women can be more sensible. As I ask questions about my own journey it inspires me to think about those before us and those who will come next. Our elders who couldn’t even open a bank account due to sexist laws might scold me for being so careless. Perhaps they would applaud my ability to be so.
You can have amazing experiences and live out your version of freedom but please, please plan for later life. There are so many resources out there with advice on how to save, invest and plan, safeguarding your future.
Looking forward, I plan to go backpacking around Europe in hostels. I hope these experiences will allow me to be at one with nature and meet new people who can impart wisdom. I aim to focus on the elements of mid-life that do not revolve around financial health. I want to eat well, exercise regularly and commit to every doctor and dentist appointment. I want to thrive on fruits and vegetables, just as much as adventure and change.
I hope to venture back to Nigeria and heal the wounds of place and time. Mid-life has presented an invitation to explore my past for the benefit of my future. Perhaps this is my new rebellion.
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