In his humorous and expressive post, blogger Jackson Biko relates to the ironic nature of life where he unmasked its tendency of taking unexpected turns.
His write-up was a response to a young man who was seeking advice from him on what he should do because, he was unhappy he was not where he should be yet he was approaching his 30s.
The young man had come off as troubled, saying he was at a crossroad in his career, he couldn’t seem to find the right job or the right woman to be with, and that his friends seemed to be doing better than he was.
Biko’s response was a heartening and hilarious one. “You think you aren’t living the life you thought you would be living? That’s hilarious. Welcome to the real world because not only are most people not living the lives they thought they would, they aren’t even living their own lives,” he wrote.
Did you write this lovely list of where you would be at the 30-year mark? Did that plan tumble like a pack of cards? Mine too! Scattered in the cold wind, you know, between you and me, I actually thought by now I would have a beach house, a very small deserted beach cabin, one bedroom, an open kitchen and a strip of beach beyond, Biko went on.
“I haven’t backpacked through Europe either- I’m one year late with that one. Am I feeling completely rotten about it? Only when I think about it while sitting in the loo at three in the morning, but during the day? Nope, it doesn’t make me feel bad, because I know as long as I’m wearing pants and I have breath in my lungs, all these things will happen. I could moan about them, of course, and overlook the tremendous blessings I have, but I refuse to. So don’t beat yourself over the head,” he advised.
The notion of success has been re-defined by contemporary society. People have unconsciously set a timeline and criteria of what success should look like and when it should happen. This is clearly depicted with the popular slogan that if you’re not smart by 20, married by 30, or rich by 40, you will never be.
It is never too late to work on achieving set goals, like owning a home.
But should this be the case? Should accomplishments in life be tied to a certain age?
Arnold Ganza, a manager at an IT firm, says it is important for people to set milestones in life because it helps them grow. However, not achieving some things at a certain age should not mean failure in life.
“Society has set a timeline for us, people want to achieve some things at a certain age, you know, like graduating and building a career while still in their 20’s, which is okay. But in case this does not work out as planned, one should not be judged harshly or labelled a failure,” Ganza says.
He says it is such that pushes people into depression because they think they are not where society wants them to be. They beat themselves up for not being where others are, hence, conclude that they are not successful.
“First of all, people should understand that being successful shouldn’t be measured by how qualified one is, or what career achievements one has, it’s about how you grow as a human being. Wisdom, humility, integrity is what should bring us an enduring sense of fulfilment,” he says.
Lawyer Patrick Kamugisha believes that success can show up at any age, though he also considers that other factors obviously have to come into play for this to happen.
He, therefore, emphasises that when and how achievements happen should not be the determinant of a person’s success in life.
“That’s what people think but not what it ought to be because life should not be associated with that. You know success should be different from luck or destiny because at every stage of life success can happen,” he says.
Clarisse Uwineza begs to differ. She thinks success should be attained at a particular age since people have a limited life span.
“We are not here to stay and this means we have deadlines, and at some point we will have to die. If we are to accomplish outstanding achievements we need to set timelines for some of the things we want in life,” she says.
“For example, if I want a family then I should be married before I hit my 30s, having children after that age can mean to be hard. If I want to be rich I need to work hard while in my 20s when I am still strong enough to do so,” she adds.
Alice Shema agrees with her. She says life is too short to sit around and wait for the good things to come around.
“I believe in fate and destiny but I wouldn’t advise people to be too soft on themselves hoping that the best is yet to come. If anything, people should be hard on themselves, work twice as hard and if you don’t succeed, be angry and hungry enough to try again until you make it,” she says.
With this, Shema adds that setting goals and when to achieve them is very important because without that, there would be lack of ambition, and for her, life without an ambition is more like not living at all.
Need to defy societal impositions
Our view of success or failure has been crippled with impositions from societal expectations, but this should not be the case, says Irene Mizero, the founder of Mizero Care Organisation.
He says, no factor can stand in the way if one is destined to become successful, and this includes age.
“Success can happen at any time, this means that we have to keep on pursuing opportunities. If you fail it doesn’t mean that there isn’t another opportunity,” he adds.
He goes on to highlight that success means different things for different people. “What success means to me can mean something different to another person. I could have been lucky to have an education whereas someone else did not; this means we can’t have the same measure for success.”
Mizero also talks about luck in life, whereby different factors have roles to play in how successful people can turn out to be.
“There are some who got education and this can easily facilitate them in being successful in life. If I may reference to our African societies where you find some people who come from poor families, they are struggling to get basics like access to education. Putting all people at the same measurement of success can then seem to be unfair.
“But all-in-all, age shouldn’t be in anyway attached to success, instead, how we fare in our lives should, for management is more of a result than a purely individual intellectual journey,” he says.
Delfine Umuhoza, a TV presenter, says it is all about determination and never giving up. One is a success as long as they have that desire to be somewhere, she says.
“Most people say they are afraid, too young, too old, or they don’t have enough time, don’t have enough money, and don’t know where to start and all. But I have come to learn that most of these objections are just excuses, for there is always an opportunity to reach your goals,” Umuhoza says.
She also believes that one can make the difference they have always wanted to no matter what age they are, and that all it requires is to start.
“For example, considering two successful known people, Pele was 17 when he won the World Cup in 1958; he also became the youngest ever to play in World Cup. Leonardo da Vinci was 51 when he painted the Mona Lisa. Success can come at any age,” Umuhoza adds.
I don’t agree with the idea that life has a line to follow; this is the same with success. Success has no formula. There are so many young people who are successful, and some are old but have done so little in life. At any given age one can be successful as long as you know your purpose, and what it takes to get to where you want to be, and of course it requires hard work, commitment and consistency.
Ange Mukaneza, Journalist
I believe everyone has their own timing and season. At 20, some people are not even sure of what career they want to pursue; by 30, some are not sure about who they want as a life partner. The whole age measurement has led many people to rush and crash. People should understand that it’s okay to not be working in their 20s, it’s okay not to be married by 30, not to be rich by 40, though it should also not be used as an excuse for laziness.
Sylvia Elizabeth, Customer care agent
People live life differently, the pace is different and this is because people go through diverse situations. Setting goals in life of what you want to achieve is important but one should not be termed a failure because they haven’t achieved a certain something, especially regarding their age.
Vianney Muhawenimana, Businessman