What it means to turn 24

I feel lost somewhere between mother’s child, teenager and adult

In Summary

At 24, I’m so far from being a teen that I can’t even understand Sheng’ anymore


“The beauty of the skies, the grace of the seas, the majesty of the mountains, and the purity of life. For you, I wish all these, and much more,” read one of the comments. Actually, that is not true. Those words are just but creations of my very creative mind.

Out of the 100-plus comments on the Facebook post I made about my birthday, none was even a close derivative of the same. About 80 per cent of the commenters threw in a half-hearted, ‘Happy birthday to you.’ You know, the one you type with your eyes half-closed so at least you can say, “There, I wished you a happy birthday. See, I care about you.”

Some few loose heads said something about me escaping a womb. Like, who would even want to escape a place as cosy as a womb? Warm, soft, and the living environment regulated by the creator Himself. No one would want to escape a womb or kids wouldn’t yell as if they are Atwoli’s reincarnations immediately after they are born. Such comments I unsaw immediately I saw.

The rest of the comment section was filled with ‘wise’ paragraphs about what to expect from life now that I just turned 24. They said I should not beat myself up when the world refuse to bend to my will. They said it’s okay to make mistakes, to feel lost and out of wits, to not have my stuff together at 24. But these were mostly people in their late 30s and early and mid-40s, who were already raising young families by the time they were 24.

Min Jii herself had her first child when she was way younger than 24. But let’s not get into that right now. No, actually, let’s talk a bit about Min Jii. Well, Min Jii is not scoring very well on this motherhood test. I mean, she is not even sure whether it is on 30th or 31st January that I was born, so I have always resorted to just randomly picking either of the two days to celebrate my birthday. I’ll give her a 40 per cent score. At least she won’t sit a re-take exam.

Amidst all the wisdom being poured about my comment section, it was not surprising to find senior clown Aneya’s punk-ass comment of, “Happy 29th birthday, goon.” I am a goon alright, but far from 29. Actually, now that I think of it, not so far really. And then there were these pretty ladies with profile pictures as enthralling as an M-pesa message. They sent me love, light and virtual hugs I wouldn’t know what to do with in a thousand years. 

It is about three weeks now since I turned 24. I feel and think the same way I did when I was 23. Nothing has changed. My hair has not receded any further. I’m still only as broke as I am lazy. No. Actually, scratch that. According to one of the comments on my Facebook post, being broke is a state of mind, so even though my pockets have anything else but money, mentally I’m super-rich. I identify as rich. My pronouns are ‘He, she, they are preparing your private jet now, sir.’ You got that joke, right? You didn’t? Sawa, I also heard it from someone, thought it was funny.

What is not funny is the sudden realisation that I’m now an actual adult. Not a young adult, an actual adult. I wanted to be a wild stallion running free. I wanted to be a magnificent steed that gallops wherever the wind takes him. Instead, I turned 24 and miserable.

There is nothing remotely special about this age. I’m literally just an adult man without his stuff together, or the necessary skills to have his stuff together. My parents’ health insurance doesn’t even cover me anymore. Now when I call Min Jii and tell her I’m sick, she says, “Just boil roots and drink.” Like where am I even supposed to get roots from in this Nairobi?

Even more shocking is the fact that turning 24 means I’m older than so many of today’s billionaire pop stars. For instance, I’m older than Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Yara Shahidi… You know what? I wouldn’t even be in the top 40 of the youngest pop stars list. That’s just how old I am.

At 24, I’m so far from being a teen that I can’t even understand Sheng’ anymore. Imagine. A big part of me first thought, “I’m only 24, I know how teenagers talk.” Until I hang out with my 19-year-old cousin last week and could barely understand a word he said.

In all seriousness, though, I do feel that turning 24 has given me a lot of things to think about, but, I don’t feel like thinking about those things because they depress me. So we are at a bit of an impasse there. Anyway, you can go ahead and wish me a happy birthday even though you will be three weeks late.

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