So you sit down on the bed on the day you turned twenty-eight wondering where the years have flown to and knowing that you only have two years before the beginning of your third decade on earth, a decade you have had an existential fear of since you hit puberty. You hit 28 knowing that 30 is only two short years away and you have a lot of things to achieve before you hit that milestone and you are so so far from achieving it. Was it not yesterday that you turned writing a poem for when you turned 24? The experiences chronicled in this here piece is intensely personal, It is 28 that I am trying to 28, I am not trying to make any law / commit any crime, please. Thank you for celebrating me and celebrating with me by reading it *pops collar to sound of drum roll*
So how does it feel like to be 28? At 28 you have been an adult for 10 years, and even though sometimes you feel as if there is no difference between this year and last year and the one before last, you know you are changing, because sometime along the line, the little boy disappeared. The little bushy tailed, bright eyed boy who felt he could change the world, the little boy who went all emotional whenever Westlife or Bruno Mars came on, the little boy who once asked a girl out because his friends dared him to and he felt he had a point to prove to them, then got bored of the relationship in a matter of months. The little boy who responded to anything and everything with excited enthusiasm. Thankfully you know that little boy is still there somewhere, because You can feel him tapping his feet and nodding his head to the rhythm when a particular fire beat from Young John the Wicked Producer comes up, you clearly saw him jump for joy so hard that his trousers tore and everyone could see the boxers he wore underneath but he didn’t care one bit because Arsenal had just scored a last gasp winner. The problem is how to coax that little boy to come out more often.
These days though, what you often get is the cynical, war weary, veteran. You go to the football viewing centre a few times a week to scream “Wenger In” or “Olivier Giroud is the bestest thing since pure water” when Arsenal win or scream obscenities at Theo Walcott and try to show you are sad at the trolling by other fans when Arsenal lose. You get on twitter and tweet your admiration for the Night king’s javelin throwing prowess, and lamentation for Viserion’s death. Your shrill tenor is so loud that people worry about your health and your sanity, but deep down you know you are just mouthing empty words, you don’t care about Arsenal (or Football) and Game of Thrones ( or movies) as you used to. That the reason why your voice is always the loudest, why you are always eager to show that you are enjoying yourself at events and why your social media posts are the most insistent is not because you want to be cool or to impress anybody with your passion, but to remind yourself that you are in fact 28 not 70, and that even though on a lot of days it feels like you are 140, at 28 you are far too young to be an Ebenezer Scrooge who derives no pleasure or excitement from life whatsoever, an emotionless robot who thrives on logic alone and is incapable of enjoying the simple pleasures and pains of life. That you must find something to get excited about or you’ll drive yourself to depression/suicide. So you just try to jive along to the cool things everybody your age is jiving to, but on most days the whole pop culture scene just feels hollow and pretentious. it is not just about pop culture either, even relationships become hard because you have become so cynical that you are just mouthing empty words you don’t believe in, devoid of emotions you don’t feel). At that time your cynicism stemming from the several times life has given you hard knocks as formed a shell around you and it is far easier to stay in that shell than to actually go out of it and be genuinely happy and nervous about something (Dear African parents if you are wondering why some of your children are not listening to your advice to “go and marry” this could be why). You know you are going to have to come out of that shell eventually but it is just so comfy in there.
At 28, You are no longer interested in changing the world. The world will be fine last last. The objective is to get through another day of adulting. That is why your parents have inexplicably become cool again. They were going through their own apathy phase when you were still dreaming of changing the world, so you thought they were boring. Now that you have reached the stage of life they are in, you suddenly realize that they have more experience at this life and adulting thing that you are failing miserably at.
28 is when you discover that you now have neither the strength nor the patience for small talk or long fights and arguments, so because of that and the general apathy towards stuff, you mostly just find yourself walking away from the middle of arguments/gist, leaving the person you are arguing with either gisting with shouting at empty air or at a loss as to what they said that made get bored/angry. Criticism slides of you like water off a duck’s back. At this point, biting your tongue in order to avoid a screamfest and pressing your phone in social gatherings to avoid chatterboxes who drain your energy becomes a learned behavior. You need strength to win arguments/keep up with social conversation and how much strength does a 140-year-old (did I say 140? I meant 28 sorry) have. When you turn 28 is when people start to wonder why you have become so withdrawn and distant, and you will mostly not care because caring about people requires strength and how much…. You get the gist right? (Dear African parents if you are wondering why some of your children are not listening to your advice to “go and marry” this could also be why)
Perhaps it is due to the apathy, but when you turn 28, you realize that you start noticing that you are developing the superpower of being able to differentiate truth from bullshit. This is a particularly valuable superpower if you happen to be religious. The power will grow exponentially from that year on till you die. You have learned, from your own experience that people say things they neither mean nor believe in for plenty of reasons, that and you also learn that good and evil are not (and can never be) absolutes so you learn to judge opinions and not people. While you still wanted to change the world (before you turned 28 ) your first reaction to any issue is to loudly declare which side you are on. These days your default position on any issue is on the fence, with a large bowl of popcorn, waiting until both sides shout themselves hoarse/ beat each other silly before you finally get down from the fence and listen to the side with the most logical argument. At the first sign of a screamfest/fight coming up, you are back up the fence like a frightened squirrel. At 28, you will quickly see the signs when someone is trying to play you. Even when you fail to detect the signs and get played anyway, it doesn’t hurt as much anymore. That is the best part of turning 28… or 140, and also the fact that you can now see God without all the bullshit that the unscrupulous middle men who call themselves his messengers try to blind you with and you can now deal with each other on each other’s terms.
So Dear God I thank you for what I have been able to do these 28 years, help me to do better in the next 28 years and in the 28 years after that (After that I am done), Amen.