High School Never Ends

Junior Elders - High School Never Ends
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

There are situations in life that are hard to explain. You are just aware that you are in a situation, but you didn’t see yourself get into it or notice the gradual change and series of events that led you there. You can’t even put your finger on the exact point things changed. One day you just realized that was your life now. Situations like one moment you are excusing yourself to go to the bathroom to fart and saying ‘sorry’ when you burp and the next moment this beautiful girl who couldn’t even eat a burger on the first date because it’s too messy is ripping weapons-grade farts while cuddled next to you without batting an eye lid. You never noticed your relationship had gotten into the “fart loudly in the presence of each other” stage until the day one of you warms the bedsheets with a gaseous mixture of equal parts dead squirrel, rotten eggs and acute indigestion. It’s hard to notice the gradual progress that gets you here. At this point you are probably six months into your open farting policy, and it’s too late to do anything about it.

You also never notice how fat and unfit you are growing until one day your favorite boxer turns into a thong and your Arsenal jersey is essentially a crop top. You aren’t aware of the decline that comes from doing 10k runs multiple times a week to panting like a mated dog when you walk up a flight of stairs. Pants that were once well-fitting suddenly bunch up on what was formerly a thigh gap and you have to keep pulling them out before they rub your balls sore. Some people hit the road to regain fitness, others just make peace with the fact that they are overweight and shop for size 40 pants.

Similarly, one day you are a young adult fighting the good fight, trying to stay afloat and make something of yourself and the next you are getting one-upped by people you didn’t even know you were in a competition with. The kid who wanted to grow up so he could eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and watch TV late into the night, and maybe become a doctor or a businessman or a lawyer (shindwe!) or a civil engineer (God forbid) and just be happy gets trapped in a never-ending thirst for adulation and social media affirmation and that becomes your life. So you post more and more photos chasing likes and retweets, letting in people into aspects of your life that should otherwise remain private.  And just like that you are roped into a rat race you don’t need and which is utterly unnecessary.

Growing up you realize that high school never ends. And that your back hurts for no reason at all and you are broke most of the time. You realize Bowling for Soup were spot on when they sang:

The whole damned world is just as obsessed
With who’s the best dressed and who’s having sex
Who’s got the money, who gets the honeys
Who’s kinda cute and who’s just a mess

The pursuit of acceptance and praise never ends for most people. You became the lawyer you wanted to be, alright, but you still have to outshine Martha from college who posted a photo from a four-star hotel by going to five-star restaurant even though it’s beyond your paygrade. That’s how you become Kobi Kihara. What you don’t know is Martha’s employer held an event at the four-star hotel but she conveniently left that out in the caption because it doesn’t hold social media cred. You want to keep up with the Joneses but even the Joneses are not the Joneses.

‘My father is richer than your dad’ when you are kids becomes name dropping in adulthood. Heck, there are people in their 30s and 40s who still talk about my daddy this my daddy that. In the words of the greatest stand-up comedian ever George Carlin, fuck your daddy!

You can’t even have a normal conversation these days without someone casually mentioning that they are acquainted with a certain corporate honcho or politician or celebrity. The irony is often that these guys will talk up their moneyed backgrounds or connections then ask you to pick up the tab because the invoice is yet to be paid. Two days later they’ll be asking for a 5k loan.

The gossip also never ends. In the office, it’s called workplace politics, and in your social circles it’s TEA. We attend weddings not to join the couple in a celebration of the start of their matrimony but to witness how (un)successful the planning and execution was and to give visual estimates of how much the event must have costed vis-à-vis what we imagine their income to be. Catching up with old mates turns into a brag-fest of how much progress you have made in life, who is dating, which chic from the class has a sponsor and who got marrie to an abusive spouse, who is cheating or getting cheated on.  At the end of it you are left drained and dreading your next meeting.

We buy things we don’t need to impress people who honestly do give a hoot whether we’re alive or dead. We care more about what people think of us than what we think of ourselves. We go to events we don’t like to fraternize with people we don’t like in order to get social visibility. We suffer from a crippling fear of missing out. We attend functions and concerts and instead of taking in the moment, enjoying the performances, we are constantly snapping photos the entire time because we want to gain clout on social media

Sometimes I wonder when we became this thirsty for praise, even when it is undeserved. If I had a thousand dollars – because I don’t know that many people to work with a dollar –  for every person who humble bragged or namedropped or mydaddy-ed me, I’d be a dollar millionaire.

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