Recently, I read that there’s a time in your life when money and material things stop becoming a way you measure your worth, success and other things. At that moment, I was reminded of a Public Relations lecturer at the college I attended. She once asserted (I paraphrase): “At your age, you think about parties, sex, money, fashion, cars, et cetera. At our age, we think about acquiring property and other assets. We think about starting businesses. About leaving a legacy.”
I thought about this for a while and asked myself: While I am having fun with my life and discovering who I am, why can’t I also do some of that in my 20’s, instead of waiting for later years?
Now, the “Life begins at 30 \ 40” saying escapes the lips of numerous people, and has become truth for many. I am not saying be all serious and not enjoy your youth. But surely there’s more to life than living for show, racing to get the latest sneakers, poppin’ bottles at clubs, and being umadlisa of some description (and getting knee-deep in debt while at it).
Often, young people spend a large chunk of their lives running around earning a living. In many instances, circumstances call for it, sure. There are people who have more than one job. And I am not talking about the fancier, CMO \ Consultant \ Strategist \ Professional Speaker.
Cleaner (by day) \ Shelf packer at a grocery store (by night) and the money many individuals earn from those two is just enough for them to eat, clothe themselves and go back to work. And the cycle continues in that fashion — it’s painful to witness. Many live to work, not to enjoy life’s beauty and simple, yet profound, pleasures.
I am certain we can agree: Money simplifies life and offers you options. It is important.
Even then, I’ve realised there is more to living than just chasing money. Writing of which, have you noticed it is often the rich and financially stable people who say this? The irony I tell you! The thing is, I am saying this and I am not monied … yet. It is a state of mind I believe. There’s a very simple reason for this view on life: I have made a decision to find richer meaning to life. It’s just way too short, and there’s only one.
I came across these words by Kahlil Gibran about seven years ago while at high school, and they echo loudly today:
“No lower can a man descend than to interpret his dreams into gold and silver”.
Of late, I walk at night gazing at the clear sky. The stars’ glistening fills me with some form of contentment. Kids running and playing about, oblivious to the harsh realities of the world they inhabit makes me smile. Conversely, the sight of an old man barefoot, covered in grime and sleeping on the pavement in a filthy corner in Johannesburg CBD inches tears closer. My mind goes into overdrive trying to imagine the story behind this man who is undoubtedly sane and can speak coherently — what the hell happened in his case?
I appreciate the smallest of things in my life and I am glad I have gathered such wisdom at a young age of early 20’s. I have figured, after my fair share of problems, that the prolonged feeling of helplessness and inadequacy edges you closer to who you really are. It forces you to tussle with yourself and challenge your emotions and your outlook on life. This can be said in words once uttered by Les Brown: “During the prosperous times you put it in your pocket; during the mean times you put it in your heart. And that’s when you discover who you are!”
Today, I declare that you shouldn’t wait until you are older to stop measuring your success in the way of money and material possessions. Even more importantly, don’t waste a decade of your 20’s worrying about other people’s hindering opinions and thus getting steered in the directions they wish.
To counter my former Public Relations lecturer’s solid belief:
I, Themba Jay, am not willing to waste my younger and youthful self by not thinking bigger. And yes, I am young, so I do think about having fun, partying, being silly, fashion, money, cars and various sorts of material success. I also think and consider, quite extensively, the impact I am having in the world — whether or not my life is having a positive dent in others’ lives. I consider my legacy, mentoring younger people than me, acquiring skills and property of sorts, doing work that transcends me and affects and enriches others in some form. I am not willing to put off these things for when I begin to grow stiff at the knees.
Along with my youthful goofing around, I want to be a young person of substance. I suppose it’s because I honestly cannot wait for my life to begin at 40. And neither should you.