We went on and on about how hard it has become to chase and achieve our goals as growing men having the noose of responsibilities and expectations around our necks. It almost feels like becoming a grown man (responsibilities, aspirations, set goals and so on) in Nigeria is a heavy cross that does not get easier.
In Nigeria, you aren’t really considered a man if you haven’t got any tangible thing to show for it. It isn’t really about the age for us (Nigerians), it is mostly about the things you have ticked off your list of ‘manly’ achievements. It is no wonder the pressure to make something of ourselves is quite hard on most of us.
I know a lot of young men struggling to ‘make it’. Sometimes, it feels as though the tickets to success have an age limit to them, and no one wants to hit that age before they get it. But then again, there aren’t really any known ‘tickets’ to success. Winning the lottery isn’t even one.
While there are various rites of passage into manhood all over Africa, and the world, ours is very well measured in success. Think about it, a young Nigerian man isn’t really considered good (or man) enough to date anyone’s daughter if he hasn’t passed the criteria of having a good-paying job, his own apartment, and all. These days, love and promise don’t really get you through the door, your works actually do.
In the past, men got married as early as 22 years of age. Then, marrying at 25 was even considered marrying late. Young men also had plans for their lives and goals to achieve – and did achieve them. Today, at 22, you’re either still in school, graduating, working as an intern or even planning on getting further institutional studies.
It is so true when people say that the hustle is entirely different and even harder now than it was many years back. Somehow, the opinion of people still remains the same. It is obvious that that never changes. Everyone still expects a growing man to have a great paying job as at 25, an apartment of his own, and a whole lot of prospects. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen nowadays, it still does, but the probability of it happening now is way lesser than before.
These days, a lot of young men get into tertiary institutions as late as at 21, 22, and upwards or even graduate whilst in their late 20s. Also, applications for work come with an age limit of 25 in most cases, which makes it hard to get a job after graduating at 25 or even higher.
There’s also the prevalent case of having so many responsibilities that it drowns out one’s entire income every month. This is more rampant in homes where the growing young man is either the first child, or comes from a family that depends solely on him. This is certainly one of the most crushing weights of being a man. I remember a friend described it as ‘being stuck in the midst of the ocean without any hope of dry land being near’.
Everyone expects you to take charge the moment you land your first job, not minding the fact that you need to get settled into ‘your own’ first.
Sitting there, watching my friends go on about how manhood is a ‘scam’ no one warns you about, I wondered if it would ever get easier. Sad truth is, with the Nigerian economy being what it is now and the rate of unemployment in the country, actual jobs are not even secure enough. Everything could vanish in an instant like Gokada did in Lagos State.
Then one of us said something striking “if you’ve got an idea for a business or a project, start it now; this is the best time to start building”. You may argue about responsibilities eating away all your income, but then, those responsibilities survived when you weren’t there.
It is imperative that one takes steps towards achieving their goals, and sets up for the coming future. Remember, tiny stacks of bricks build an entire wall.
Also, manhood isn’t a sport, so what’s the use in feeling the pressure of who gets ‘made’ first? It isn’t about how fast you arrive but how well you arrive when you finally do. Society will always have expectations because that’s how it thrives, but the pressure is less when we stop listening to people, take charge of our lives and plan better. Our races start differently but there are medals for everyone.