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The circles of Life

EVERY decade of your life, will expose you to a devastating setback that tests your tenacity, belief in humanity and greatly shapes your outlook of life for the rest of your life.

In your 20s, it is probably a heartbreak from your first attachment from that whom you thought was the love of your life. It comes from an inexplicable breakup or the character assassination against any conventional wisdom. I have a friend who cheated on his college beauty and we nearly lynched him.

Also, someone can ghost you leaving you questioning your very own existence. You feel so used like a doormat in a particularly rainy April. Also, in your 20s, joblessness can be a big challenge.

You may take longer, or forever to settle into a career even as some of your friends seem to be having it so easy, posting pictures of Hennessy from high-end nightclubs the sought of Maison and their vacation pictures, when you don’t even have bus fare out of your 2 seater room.

For men, your 20s if broke means no such indulgences into coitus or a good meal. Women sometimes get off easy, with support from home, or at least, can meet a man who takes the responsibility. But the setbacks of your 20s are nothing compared to the setbacks of your 30s.

Most people don’t see their 30s coming. In fact, between 25- 35, you will lose some five years to bullshit. You will not know where the years went. You will spend them jobless, or in an abusive relationship by the time you get out, there is a physical marker of aging on you; Grey hair, balding, tummy or something for men.

For women, it is the period where your body out of nowhere transforms fully into that of middle-aged woman who identifies more with her church preacher than her favorite hang out place. Also, for women the five years can disappear into childbearing and dealing with a middling, mediocre career. The 30s are a good place to be.

You are old enough to be kicking ass in your career and life affords you all the best options. For a man, you can afford some of the things that you missed on in your 20s, like slicing those early 20s beauties for whom a holiday in the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar is enough to hawk their dignity.

The 30s, if things are working well for you means you can afford an asset, upgrade to a better car, buy some decent furniture and that curved TV that your heart has hankered for as long as you can remember. If married, your kids will be going to better schools, probably with a British Curriculum or something fancy.

Your objectives in life will be pretty much set: That promotion, that career switch, or the demon may send you into farming and you may regret if you rely on bad advice. For career and businesswomen with great focus, the 30s can be good.

Assuming their romantic relationships are in order, they can scale any mountain that matches their ambition. And boy, in this city, I have seen and heard of some women with crazy ambition. They will stop at nothing and will use every means, crude, fair and unfair to get ahead.

When their romantic relationships are messy, it can also have a negative toll on them. Most likely the 30s mean a woman is either married or a single mother with a complicated relationship with the baby dad, and maybe a host of boyfriends she sees here and there.

The problem with the 30s is that when things are working, they work pretty well. And when they go wrong, they go extremely wrong. The relationship problems of the 20s are mostly on petty things. In your 30s, it is petty things and serious things too.

Hearts of both women and men are so hardened and it looks like kids born after 1980 all come with pre-installed egos the size of Pacific Ocean. Nowadays, pride really messes up any opportunity for reconciliation when things go wrong. Nobody wants to admit a mistake. Each party nowadays is a stubborn ass.

In your 30s, you are likely to experience three things that can change your life for better or worse: Your worst brokenness that can ruin your marriage and other relationships (you can lose your respect in your family if you fail to provide bread), a devastating illness in your family that is emotionally and financially ruinous, and the biggest test in your marriage (can be infidelity, financial challenges, sickness, childlessness, dislocation due to transfer or career growth).

All these, if handled badly has dire consequences. For women for instance, when you get a transfer to another city or that job promotion that you have worked for, it maybe a moment of joy but it can dampen the mood of the husband who may come between your promotion and transfer and this can take a toll in your relationship.

Your frustration is understandable, and the man’s fear is always rational and reasonable. Because, for some women a job promotion or transfer might be a license to misbehave. Yet, if the man tries to block her progress is hardly the right thing because the last thing you want is someone resentful in your household.

For men, when tragedy strikes in your 30s, it can be humbling. First, you discover you are alone in the universe. While in your 20s you can call as many friends as possible who will come through, in your 30s, it is difficult to call your friend asking for help with financial constraints things like you don’t have bus fare or money to buy your son some cough syrup.

You soon discover how humiliating poverty can be. Poverty has no dignity. In your 30s, if you never acquired some sense of self-respect, humiliation can be constant. Like friends who call you to drink very far away from your place and when you ask them to drop you at home, it is not uncommon for a stupid friend to tell you off with venomous unprintable words.

You learn to spend nights at home, rather than be subjected to indignities of group drinking. But away from the humiliations of group drinking, the worst tragedy in your 30s mostly comes from your relationship.

If you are a man and you blow it up and your wife leaves with children, that can rearrange your life with such devastating brutality, not unlike an accident that leaves you strapped to a wheel-chair for good. Most men who cheat think they have it figured out, until one day when they are 36, the wife leaves with no option of coming back.

Besides cheating, when a marriage breaks down in the 30s, things can go wrong with astonishing speed, by the time you get through, you will feel like a hurricane carried you and dropped in the deepest part of the ocean to drown you.

It messes up both men and women, even though differently. Away from marital shenanigans, in your 30s, is the time you are likely to lose your parent or a family member. And if it is a parent, you will realise how helpless you are without their counsel, their assurance and them being your last resort.

If you are a daughter and your marriage tanks, you will always turn to your father or mother as they will always take you back and offer unconditional support. Your siblings will be dealing with their own issues, and may be too judgmental to take up your screw ups.

If a man and you screw up in life, you can always turn up at your parent’s place. But when they are gone, anytime you go back home the gap can be so huge, you will sob. Same thing happens when your parents are sick and you are moving in and out of hospitals, or you have to take them to India, knowing too well their chance of survival is limited.

But no matter what your 30s throw at you, what you need is stoicism, resilience and the ability not to take things too personally. Whether it is your property that's auctioned, whether it is your partner who suddenly changes for worse, or leaves, take it on the chin.

It is easier to resort to alcohol or drugs (or any route of escapism like philandering), too much pent-up anger, and taking a cynical attitude to life. But this is not the way to do it. If you look around you will see so many people who have risen from ashes and far worse tragedies.

This is not in anyway some Ted talk or motivational speech but just a calm reminder that shit happens, and it is how you deal with it that matters. Be rest assured that you can rise out of the ashes and shine, you can come out of anything!

MOST people have little trouble ...

Mwandishi: Salma Hamisi

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