Nairobi News


LIVING: Young people, just do you; whatever makes you happy

When I was going away to the university to pursue my degree, of all the advice I got, the very best was from my aunt who kept it real with me.

An uncle had told me to take a course that would enable me to employ myself, eventually. Another told me not to get a boyfriend from the “wrong” tribe while there.

My cousin’s then girlfriend advised me to change my course because I would never get a job (I would really like to meet her and show her how wrong she was).

My aunt’s advice was very different. She did not tell me to work hard, or to watch out for the kind of friends that can mislead you. No. She simply told me that it was okay to quit, if I found that things were too tough for me.

“It won’t be the end of the world. If you go there for one semester, two and you find that the course is too hard, there is no shame in saying that it is beyond you. Speak to your parents and ask them to help you find something that you can manage,” Aunty Irene said as we were walking along the streets of Nairobi after a chance meeting.

It turned out that I did not need the advice, at all. I excelled. However, I wish many of the people we were with in school and whom I met in other places, had an Aunty Irene.


So many people were doing courses that they: 1) did not like 2) found too difficult 3) were forced to do by their parents or 4) were pressured into doing because of various reasons.

These people were unhappy, unfulfilled and constantly complaining. Many of these have since changed their professions and moved on to things they prefer, if they have the guts.

It is sad when a young person chooses a course that they cannot handle. It makes life so meaningless, waking up everyday to do something that absolutely depresses you (or is this called adulting?).

This is where the cases of cheating and bribing lecturers for better grades used to come in. I think they felt that they had to show something for all the time they spent in school, so they would do anything to make sure that their time there seemed fruitful.

Others just continued with those courses and in order to save face, just finished their four, five or six miserable years in university. If they cheated their way through, it is very obvious when they get employed. And as such, they come up with excuses as to why they do not want to be employees.


“I’ll just start my own biashara, be my own boss. Employment is just not for me,”one will be heard saying.

“I have a brilliant idea, all I need are investors and in six months we will be raking in the cash,” he will say a few months down the line when you ask how the biashara is doing.

It is even sadder that others chose to commit suicide when the pressure got too much. While I was in campus, quite a number of young men (always men, never the girls) took their lives when their courses proved too difficult for them to hack.

There is no job, or university degree that is worth your life. That parent that forced you to become a doctor because they would look good in front of their peers for having raised Dr So and So, would rather lose thousands of shillings in school fees than a child.

Those friends who you compete with, you know, the ones who all want to get accepted to the bar and are made advocates of the High court of Kenya by the time they are 24 years old, may be just as miserable as you.

Young people, just do you. If you like to write, take photographs, cook, sew, knit… whatever makes you happy, just do it. If you find yourself doing the wrong course for you, speak up, early. Do not waste your time and financial resources, invest in something else.