What's Your Ism

Being a twenty-something year old is one of the most beautiful and yet saddest things. It is the stage where you and your age mates are not equals. Y’all may have the same ages, but it is no longer like high school where y’all are most likely in the same class, go to similar schools, have the same schedules or vacations. It is just weird. I am a professional whose peers at work are my friends’ parents and some of them call me “boss”; at home, I am the older brother who is supposed to be able to help everyone (including my parents) with whatsoever they are doing but I am not old enough to make final decisions in the house. I spent 6+ years living on my own in other parts of the world, yet I’m back home for every older cousin and aunt to call me “baby”. It is this age, you know.. Being twenty-something.

All the confusion in the notion that every life has a higher purpose. I am at an age where I have this fear lurking in the shadows that my life has no true meaning. All the life goals, relationship goals and career goals, but my pocket can barely afford a trip to town every day. Done with college and got lil-thing to do, but I don’t quite feel like I am a working-class man yet because there are still days that I have to  “credit from the old-ma.” No financial security, only a bank account that is full with dreams and ideas that I just need enough cash saved up to start. 

Someone told me that when you hit the thirty-somethings, you are either used to oblivion and have found a coping mechanism, or you’ve found your life purpose and are working on it daily. Hence, in these last months of job hunting and odd contracts, while I figure out the best way to start this career I’ve been going to school to prepare for over 20 years, I am stuck with one question: Who am I?

Am I the same thing my parents see when they say “I’m proud of you”? Am I the same person when my close friends shake their heads and say “bro, you’re a mess?” Or is my true-self different from what  kids who don’t really know me look at and call their “role model”? Truth is, I am a lot of things and they all only make sense when I connect them with what drives me. I am not what I do or have done, I am not what I know or don’t know; I am what I believe I am in my core.

For some, theirs is feminism. Others, pan-africanism. Some still have their isms as patriarchism, pluralism, liberalism or socialism. Mind you, not all -isms end with “ism.” I define “-ism” as a person’s core belief; in as much as a person may have more than one “-ism” there is one -ism that is above all. For me, that is self-determination. The UNPO defines self determination as the right of a people to determine its own destiny. I believe everyone has a choice to be who they want to be, regardless of how other people see them. One may not quite be exactly what people see them as, or who people may try to compel them to be/conform to; but other people’s opinions don’t matter as much as the opinion of the person themself. And I say that to say in my twenty-finer years, I choose to be everything I can be even if I am not perfect at it, because life (to me) is meant to be lived not perfected. Now that you know my “-ism,” what is your “-ism”?

Authored by Joshua S. Kulah

Featured Picture by LigerianOptics

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! This piece directly speaks to me. Am glad I read it. Thanks to the writer for this.

  2. Robert Serge Saint-Pé says:

    This piece is interesting.

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