If I do have kids in future, my kids after completing their secondary/high school education would have to spend one year (or more) at home before proceeding to pursue higher education through whatever means they decide is best for them in their pursuit of knowledge.
It mustn’t even be a University – frankly I don’t care what institution of knowledge they submit themselves to, so long as they are acquiring tangible information and developing their God given skills. The goal would be the acquisition of knowledge, not the acquisition of a degree.
Spending at least a year at home would not be optional. This would be a necessary part of their growth process, and they would grow up understanding the importance of this break so that when time comes, they would happily welcome it, understanding its purpose and what it would accomplish for them
That one year would be a necessary part of their mental formation because during that period, they would be compelled to take a break from the society to figure out what exactly they want for themselves and understand how they want to go about it.
The goal would be to withdraw them from as many institutionalized societal systems as possible, so that they can be able to listen to their innermost yearnings without all the external opinionated voices screaming in their ears. While they ‘on the mountain’, they would be provided with objective knowledge and general information that would aid them in their decision making.
Of course a year or two is not enough time to totally have the rest of your life figured out, but it is enough time for one to get to understand the basics in order to build the foundation that every other choice would subsequently be based on
My own experience when I left high school, coupled with a lot of other people’s experiences that I’ve read about, is what has influenced this decision of mine.
I graduated high school in 2015, and spent a year at home after not getting admission to the university. I eventually got into school in 2016.
Back then, that year was hell for me because everything and almost everyone reminded me that my mates had gotten into school while I hadn’t, and I felt miserable because of it. But now I look back at that period, I’ve come to realize that it was the best year of my life so far, despite all of its pain
That year was when I was pushed into discovering what exactly I wanted to do with the rest of my life because of circumstances that withdrew me from the society and in that uncomfortable isolation, forced me to listen to my own heart ( because there was nothing else I was doing with my life other than waiting to get into school).
This is why I also don’t support the idea of always sending children and teens to learn a skill or get a job as dictated for them whenever they are out of school for vacation. Sometimes what a child needs is enough free time to explore things on their own terms, that will aid their path to self-awareness
2015/2016 while I was at home, I went kamikaze on writing as a coping mechanism for not being in school yet. I also watched my love for arts grow from the subconscious mind to a place of consciousness that I could hone, and in the midst of all this, I began to understand for the first time what exactly I wanted to do with my love for arts.
All of this happened because of that one year break from society I was forced by circumstances to take. Now imagine if I had that year to myself to pursue further self-discovery, but with encouragement and without the negative energy from not yet being in school which had its own adverse effect on me then
If I am to go back to 2015, I would spend that one year at home again, but this time with a conscious understanding that this break is a necessity and not a mistake. That way I would get the complete best out of that period of sober reflection and isolation
You see, our current society doesn’t give us so much space to figure ourselves out, except we do it through blood and sweat while trying to break out from the general norm and carve our own path. That is if we even get to a point of self-discovery. Many people actually waddle through life doing only whatever their current situation allows them to, without ever discovering purpose and passion
For those of us who have to struggle to carve our own path despite unfavorable societal odds, the battle to do so inadvertently affects our mental health. Even if we eventually succeed, the demanding process of resisting and conforming, struggling and giving up, breaking down and picking ourselves up again wears us out so much that when we finally get there, we are already exhausted and dealing with so many scars meted out to our psyche. This is what I will like to protect my kids from if I am ever blessed with any.
From nursery to primary to secondary to university to NYSC to becoming a working class person, there is no break, no space. It sounds like life in this part of the world is more or less a sprint than a marathon
Further on the issue of self-awareness, it is important to note that Secondary/University level is usually the time teenagers begin to have an idea of who exactly they are meant to be. This is because the age bracket that places a person in Secondary/University level is usually the age bracket that witnesses the mind, developing to a stage where it begins to accommodate the thought processes that seek to understand one’s self.
“What do I want to be when I grow up? Who am I? What do I like and dislike? Am I sure I really want to be a pastor or doctor or lawyer like everyone around me keeps telling me I would be?” These are the questions that a teenage mind begins to process at this juncture.
Essentially, the formation of identity and a desire to become starts at this point.
But with the way our society is designed, chances are that a teenager who has gotten to this juncture of self-awareness that needs processing (which takes time) would already be in the system doing something that doesn’t reflect their person or passion, because they have (been) rushed into it.
And point, the next thing society and its soldiers begin to tell these teenagers, is that they just have to see it through even if it’s not what they want, because a lot is at stake – expectations, resources invested into them so far, lack of courage to admit they’re on the wrong path, and the biggest nemesis all, “Time”
The fact that we are extremely conscious and fearful of the progression of time is one of our greatest undoing as a people
The way we use time as a defense for this detrimental rush we’re all in is something I’m beginning to find more and more appalling
You see, while time really does play a vital part of our existence, the place and relevance of time as we now know it has largely been exaggerated.
Time is more or less now, a social construct, than an independent entity.
This time thing is wielded by the society to mandate you to be at a certain place at a certain time, even when that’s not where you’re supposed to be or neither is it where you want to be, considering that we’re all unique individuals with different goals and plans.
And it’s so easy to preach that everyone has their own time, but how many of our decisions actually reflect this understanding?
Back to this crazy rush to the end, running against time with no breathing space
By the time you’ve conformed and fought your way through the institutions and you think you finally have time to figure yourself out, ‘time’ yet again provides you with responsibilities that are expected of your age and you conform yet again to foot these responsibilities, but this is usually the last opportunity you get, because from this moment till the end you’re likely going to be saddled with responsibilities and expectations that come with the adult world.
If you become financially successful in the process of living a lie, then you’re even less likely to break through your prison because money answers almost everything except of course the yearnings of your innermost voice which you will desperately try to ignore because chasing it at this point might require you starting from the scratch
This analysis of our toxic relationship with the society can go on and on, but having made my point, I can end this here.
My point is simple: we all need that necessary break from the society to step back and look within ourselves long and hard enough to decide what exactly we want to do with the rest of our life. MY children deserve that, and if I have some in future, I will give them that.
Thank you amazing people for reading this piece. You are the reason I write.
As usual, here is a completely useless information:
I never liked mathematics and I still don’t like math. No. If I want to be sincere, the problem is that I don’t know math, and believe me I’ve tried but I just never get the hang of it and still don’t. I don’t want to embarrass my father on here, but I know I got this deficiency from him. stifles a mischievous chuckle
But then as I like to joke with my mother, I don’t believe I need to know math to know how to count money, so I’m all good.
*insert all the winking emoji here and all that blogger kind of thing*
This article was written by Peniel Okwuchukwu
Connect with Peniel on Instagram: @peniel____
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