“You are still a child until you stop living for the moment.”

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I would like to describe myself as a very shy person; I always worried and was careful about what image I portrayed. Very conflicting though because I’m outspoken and I love expressing myself. When I was in high school, however, I didn’t struggle much really, because I was always on the good side of my teachers (law) and I was well respected in the community too. I had a boyfriend but I was secretive about it, only my friends knew, and of course his friends. I’m sure my teachers would have never imagined that I could even kiss a boy. I wouldn’t describe myself as naughty, I was rather curious and I was probably trying to be cool or perhaps to be the normal teenagers we saw on TV. I was secretive about these things because my mom would kill me if she found out and also my brother had made it clear that he would beat us up both if he ever discovered I had a boyfriend. I remember my mom used to say that she would only allow us to date when we are in varsity. Nevertheless, after I started going to university, I considered myself a big girl now. I didn’t expect to answer to my mom or anybody else because I was in varsity; I was at Unam [University of Namibia] you guys! And besides I had a big mouth, and I didn’t need her financial support because I had a study bursary so she couldn’t have a say, I wouldn’t let her. If she showed any signs of disagreement with the way I did things, I would simply stay away from her and ignore her calls. I was in charge now.

Varsity life: I would describe university as the devils playground! From the onset, everything had an indescribable vibe to it. I was free but it’s not like I came from a strict home or anything, this particular freedom was different and it required an attitude too and I was the perfect girl for it. I could come home anytime, I had no curfews, no parents, my advisors where my friends. I consulted my friends on everything that pertained to my life and it was so cool because they told me exactly what I wanted to hear. I of course abandoned my high school friends because they were so boring…they still lived with their parents and that meant that they couldn’t come out to parties with me, they had curfews and they practically lived boring lives. I couldn’t stand them, unless I needed to catch up with school work because I missed my class while sitting at the grub with my cool friends. Everything felt so right, we got away with anything and everything, we were satisfied with our average passes. My boyfriend at the time was also on the cool side of life and we were busy partying our lives away every weekend. We went to all the cool places and I always took my friends with me. During my first year, I failed one of my major subjects and passed the rest with (satisfactory D) and I couldn’t be bothered. My mom tried to sit me down and talk to me but I told her about all the other kids who failed math and accounting and that I was at least better coz I only failed one subject. I also told her that no one in my class ever got distinction because our subjects were that hard. I don’t know whether she bought my story but I didn’t care, I also made sure she never saw my results ever again. I was one of the coolest girls in my class (in my view) and I made it a point that all my friends had to be beautiful. I didn’t want anything to do with church either and I didn’t care about what people said or thought about me anymore, I was at Unam now “I was safe”, “I had a future” and “it was my life”.

Anyway, so since I was a big girl now my boyfriend decided he wanted a baby, he said that he wasn’t growing any younger and that I was in university now it won’t be such a big deal because I would be graduating soon and that my mom wouldn’t go on so much, it was not like falling pregnant in high school, he said. I consulted my advisors, and laid down the current plan. And immediately I got all the answers that I wanted to hear, some told me that I was an independent woman and that I could afford a child even if he left one day I would still manage, I was that girl. Another one of my friends told me a story about how she also had a child and that she fell pregnant when she was still in Grade 10 and that people laughed at her, and that her parents were disappointed but they later made peace with it. She also said that the pregnancy motivated her to study hard and as a result she wrote 42 points at the end of the year, she said she had the baby and immediately continued with her studies. She even went as far as showing me pictures of her beautiful baby boy and constantly narrated her labour experience to us, etc. Well, I promoted her to the position of technical advisor with immediate effect since she had more experience and I needed all the experience I could get. Good! Long story short, I fell pregnant and even secretly got married (story for another day). The boyfriend decided he was not happy and left me but while I was mourning his departure, I also discovered that my technical advisor never had a child and that the story was cooked, for what I don’t know.

But that is not the focus of my story. I want my readers to capture and take note of the attitude that I was portraying, never mind my technical advisor or the boyfriend because they were only characters in the movie. And it is for that reason that I don’t hold any grudges towards any of them. My focus is on the person that I thought I was when I got to university. I did not have a back bone or a foundation, I no longer had dreams or goals, and I was simply living for the moment. I thought I was a big girl and nobody could tell me anything, I had an attitude and my friends were more important to me than my own family. But the ones that suffered the consequences of my choices later where not my friends, it was my family, my family bore the shame and they were the ones who walked down the new journey with me. When my mom found out I was pregnant, she told me, “my baby it was too soon, if you had consulted with me I would have advised you to wait at least until you were in your final year, it was too soon”. But what was interesting about what she said only became clear to me after I turned 21 years, that’s when I realised that actually I wouldn’t have made the choice to become a mom while I was still in school. And somehow as a mom she knew that I would have thought differently later. And please don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets, my daughter is precious to me, I wouldn’t trade her for the world, and she knows it. And fortunately my life took a whole new journey all together and today I am better than what I would have been, had I not gotten her. But the point that I’m driving to here is that, you are still a child, not until you turn 21years but until you stop living for the moment. When you get to a new level in life, don’t throw away the counsel of your guardians/parents. Our guardians/parents were given to us in order to guide us, they always know better because they have seen what we are yet to see. They have been there, they know. The Bible says we as children should honour our mothers and fathers so that we can live long.

Just because our parents don’t have a Grade 12 certificate or because they never went to university it doesn’t mean we should disregard their advice. We as young people should treasure the counsel of our elders. . I am not only referring to biological parents in this case, I am talking about our elders. There is a blessing in obedience especially when it’s obedience to our elders. I had to learn the hard way, but today I listen to my elders.

Sesilia Nekwaya is a young economist at the Bank of Namibia whose dream is to make a difference in someone’s life, whether big or small. Writing this article, Nekwaya hopes this article speaks in greater volumes.

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