Regretting the times I missed out

Growing up, life was about studying and doing home chores. No, studying did not include any co-curricular activities save for the subjects taught in the classroom. That is how I was lucky to get sawing classes. Recalling my life at Nakasero Primary School, when my classmates were practicing for Music, Dance and Drama, I dared not because mother had said it is a waste of time. Oh, the pain that my heart felt when I heard them practice in the hall that was a small flight of stairs from my classroom. I heard and learned the songs, even the dance moves. However, come the day of presentation, I was holed at home doing chores or just being there.

While sports day was compulsory and my parents bought me the attire needed, I barely participated in any of the games. I guess my view was already skewed and all I did was the school match.

Back then, a sleep over was prestigious and the funny habits of today were less rampant. However, if I could not visit relatives without an adult, how could I suggest this to my parents?

At church, there were activities for children, but I never got into any because it was church service and then home.

To say the least, I felt that outside the routine activities of school, I had no life.

Life changed in secondary school where I participated in all the co-curricular activities as much as I wanted. Nonetheless, any meetups outside school were unheard of. I could never ask about them or suggest to my parents because I knew the answer.

University life was not any different because mother even volunteered to pick me up from campus after my classes. It infuriated me because even when I said I will find my way home, she was adamant. Yes, some of you may say that I am ungrateful but I felt caged. I was never given the option of cautiously making a decision based on my judgement even when I was out of campus. I hated it with every fibre in me.

When other young adults were exploring various career paths or joining young adult associations, I was boxed in a shop that I had no desire to work in. No, it was what had put bread on our tables all our lives and I appreciated it. Working there had taught me a lot such as the beauty of making money rather than beg. I had also learned to bargain, talk to customers and handle them well. However, that was not what I wanted. At least not then. I wanted to do what I had studied (IT), practice it in appreciation of the long hard hours in school. But that did not really happen.

For once, I wanted to attend a friend’s wedding, kwanjula, kasiki, house warming and the like without begging for permission. I wanted to have and keep friends and the best way was to give people of my time. However, I was told that that is a waste of time.

I craved for a social life but I was told it was useless. With that, my network was always at zero. No one will remember you when you have chosen to hide from them. They actually feel that they are disturbing your bubble or that you are busy and do not want to interfere.

As a parent, my prayer is that I will not duplicate what was done to me. For I can fully appreciate the essence of friends yet I barely even have acquaintances. Life is empty without people or at least someone that you gel with and are allowed to be you without judgement.

Looking at the opportunities that I would have got had I had a strong network, my heart bleeds.

Joan S, a journalist, blogger and parenting coach