Ever since we started going to school together, I had mixed feelings towards you. On one hand, I greatly admired you. You were calm and focused. You studied well. Your braids were the longest in the school. Your mum adored you and dedicated her entire life to supporting you and your success. You were rich and could afford anything you wanted.
On the other hand… all of that pushed my buttons. I secretly competed with you, even though I stood no chance. I was too emotional, blushing uncontrollably in front of our classmates or feeling jittery before a maths test. I studied well, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get to the perfection I strived for. My mum chopped my hair off and refused to braid it. She never had much time for me, and her priorities were elsewhere. My family was poor, and there wasn’t spare money to buy what I wanted.
So, for many years I envied your life. At some irrational level, I wanted to be you. Oh, how did I want your mum to be mine! Your life was perfect. You graduated from school with distinction. You got into university. You had a rich university life with good friends from good families. You got married upon graduation and produced two children. When I met you in 2002, 10 years after graduating from school, you were working at the same university as your mum did and being as happy as one can be in our home town. Two years ago you became an acting director of the university where you worked, as well as an active member of the dominant political party. Last year you were running for the elections as a member of national parliament. Strange to think you were one of my mum’s competitors. No doubt you succeeded. I don’t even bother to ask around. Your daughter was admitted to the medical school last year. Strange thought, given that mine still crawls under the table….
But here’s the thing.
I don’t want your life. It may look perfect by our home-town standards from the outside, but I have no idea how you feel on the inside. I’ve wasted so much precious energy trying to fit into that box of expectations. The further my life dragged me away kicking and screaming from that box, the more miserable I became. I was brought up on the notion that that how life should look like.
And thankfully, I don’t want that anymore.
So, this is just a quick note to say hi and to send you love. I wish you well and hope you are happy.
My path was so different to yours. I wish someone pointed that out to me. Sooner.