How to embrace your quarter-life crisis (Part I)

A simple, step-by-step how-to on what to do once you turn 20  

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Tips for 20 year-olds: How to embrace your quarter-life crisis – by Anthony Mugo

Firstly, you’re older now, so spend copious amounts of time thinking about your childhood, how perfect and happy it was, and how much you realize now (now that you’re old enough to think and realize things) that your true self was, and always will be, in your prepubescent years.

Have a mantra. Convince yourself that you are the kind of guy who lives by carpe diem, that you live for the moment, like those movie people. Only say it though, it will be used only as recourse; an excuse for your self-destructive tendencies. Never actually go out and do things.

Join campus and do something that you think you will enjoy, but promptly fall out of love with it in the first semester of your second year.

Be more sensitive about things. Also, and follow me here, be less sensitive about things. Embrace this violent irony. Grow completely indifferent towards animals and pets. Remain remarkably unmoved by their furriness, their purring, and their the innocent, wet eyes. If someone brought you a sick dog and told you that it was sick and they’d pay you to put it down, do it. Not because your slowly morphing into a high-functioning psychopath, but because you need the money.

Sleep in and talk less to people. Do not care much for direct sunlight.

Do not smile at babies in matatus, or make nice, funny faces. They haven’t the capacity to understand you and your well-meaning facial expressions. Plus, they’re not yours.

Act like the fact that you don’t have a beard almost 10 years past when your facial follicles should have sprouted doesn’t bother you. Pretend to acknowledge it for what it is: natural, humanly variation. You may even go as far as to use it in good, self-deprecating humour with your friends but deep down, let it eat you up inside. Let it pain your foreskin, the thought of your peers with beards.

Do not eat anything remotely green or anything that’s purportedly healthy. The very opposite in fact; eat junky nonsense. Eat food like a death-row convict would eat, or like an ox being fattened for slaughter. Eat food that makes you happy. After all, carpe diem.

Do not bother with big, pretentious books by big, pretentious authors. Life is too short to be spending hours on end reading long, pictureless volumes when you could be somewhere doing fun things, like eating.

Only pray during sudden moments of fright and fear, like when you hear sounds coming from downstairs at 3.17 am. No-when else. Feel guilty about this but still, don’t pray. Praying when guilty will only make it feel like mockery.

Tell yourself that the reason you don’t look at yourself in the mirror anymore is because the mirror is dirty and blurry.

Allow self doubt to have it’s way with you. Oh and worry constantly. Worry about everything. It helps if you worry. Be annoyingly philosophical and find fascination in things. The more apparently-ordinary the object of fascination is, the better. The world needs your precocious, idealistic mind.

Think about death, a lot. Marvel at the lightly-taken fact that we are all going to die, and how ultimately, as consequence, nothing in life really matters.

Continue to eat until your thighs start to touch strangely when you rush down the stairs in a way that you doubt is healthy. Do not worry about this, you are only ‘adorably plump’. Tell yourself that it’s God’s will that we eat and fill the earth with our girth. And that your being overweight means good fate for a Jakartan slum dweller.

Do not pause to ask yourself what the hell that means; just say it, and believe it.

Oh yes, before I forget, you’re a gifted 20-year-old. Deep down, you have pent up creative juices dancing around somewhere in your pancreas. Of course one might argue that you’re mistaken and it’s only pancreatic juice, but in your mind, know and understand fully the virtuoso that you are and ignore these skeptic cretins who do not get you. There is something you were born to do. If you’re able, pick up something that “speaks to your soul”, something that “is your life”, something artsy-craftsy.

But be wary. Do not get impassioned by anything that does not appeal to the young, modern, Kenyan populace. Do not choose anything with a traditional sophistication to it – you know, beadwork, mat-weaving, basketry, acrylic painting. No, keep away from these genuine cultured arts, none of them will do it for you. You have modern passions. Your quasi-art of choice should be something that will never impact society in any truly meaningful way, but that will allow for your young, idealistic ideas to be explored. And remember, you want that. Consider anything that fits the description, “self-expressive masturbation”. Photography, deejaying, fitness and/or modelling, blogging, fashion, fashion blogging: pursue these. And don’t worry, there’s a lot more to choose from.

Find a way to express your problems (in this case, your impending obesity) into the pretentious art you decided to pursue above. If you chose, say, blogging, blog about your weight problems. Write about all of it – from the involuntary grunts when you wake up from seats, to the annoying sweats that plague you in warm afternoons in your nether regions, and the pant zippers that refuse to go all the way up and there’s always that infernal patch of shirt visible below the belt. Do not shy away from details. Write it all. I mean, what more effective way to deal with your problems than to write about them? The foulest of demons were cast out by the pen.

Do not be afraid to refer to your blogging endeavor as ‘creative writing’ to invoke a seeming refinement. Stay away from titles like ‘blogger’, ‘social media personality’. You are a writer, who writes. Wear dull cardigans and framed spectacles to sell this.

If your quasi-art of choice is photography, get yourself a ridiculously expensive Nikon Coolpix camera from wherever you get these things from, and with it take pictures that “speak to you” – Birds on trees, rain drops on window panes, sunsets, dandelion petals, dandelion petals set to distant sunsets, selectively-colored portraits of your trendy picturesque friends holding up peace signs against their mouths, your lens cap, aerial shots from atop the KICC building, more peace signs. All of these are unique.

Consider making an income generating activity out if this, open a page on Instagram.

Please, do not forget to constantly remind yourself – and other people who couldn’t care less – that you live by the mantra of carpe diem. Again, if possible, find a way to amalgamate this life philosophy of yours into your pretentious art of choice. Never tire of this.

Generally-speaking, be deep. See things that other people don’t see, and have taste. Listen to deep, foreign, Indie rock bands (Icelandic is good) and talk about how much you despise the musics of Noti Flow. (But of course, very privately, enjoy some of it.)

Never foster meaningful relationships with women. Try to, but fail. Hide your emotional inexperience and slowly nurture your insecurities and let this dynamic dictate your relations with women. Or better yet, go full womanizer mode. (Or sponsor mode, for women). It’s easier when you know for certain that you are garbage, than trying to convince yourself of a false sense of principal. There is no point in having principal if you die tomorrow. Remember, carpe diem. Look for women who will stroke your ego and abet your rapidly faltering persona. Your campus is probably crawling with them.

If you are still living with your parents, which you certainly are if you’ve read this far, enjoy the occasional heated argument with them. From moderately important issues to absolute nonsense. You are 20 now, and they need to know that you are now old enough to have a say in things. Do not worry about them personally, about their lives, whether they are happy or not, or whether they cry at night thinking about how they will pay for your photography/deejaying school classes, let alone your campus tuition. They are parents first, people later. And they know this.

Finally, under the weight of the dawning realization of what you have become, hit spiritual rock-bottom.

Despairingly find your way back into church. Once you step inside, the routine faithfuls who always make good on attendance will turn back in their seats and peer at you with soul-sucking eyes of condemnation and it will start to feel like they are all about to splash you with garlic and holy water and point small crosses at you; because on a deep, spiritual level, they all know you are the Lamia.

Ignore them. Find 2 seats closest to the door, one for you and another for your sinful despair, then sit and listen. Catch only bits of the sermon because you have the attention span of a toddler housefly, and at the end of the day, change nothing in your life.



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