Every time Gen Y family members finally show up to an event, the following remarks are always directed at them.
“How have you been?”
“Na umepotea (You’ve been lost).”
“Heh, kwani you don’t have time for us these days?”
Well, we’re fine. No, we’re not lost. And no we really don’t.
Here are some of the reasons (some personal and some from my millennial peers) why we avoid family gatherings.
We actually are busy
Most of us are what rap videos like to call hustlers. We are constantly on the lookout for the next business opportunity and that takes time and effort.
For instance, I have a job that occupies me from 8 am to 8 am.
Most of my friends and some of my enemies are even busier than that because they are in a corporate environment where even the vulnerability shown by sneezing because of the HR manager’s strong perfume makes you a target ripe for replacement.
So yes, sometimes we simply don’t have the time.
We are almost always broke
Owing to the high cost of living, it’s rare to find a millennial swimming in money. If so, they either recently won a Sportpesa jackpot, are a sugar baby or somehow got that kind of luck reserved for people who find tens of thousands of shillings in their dirty laundry.
We are always penniless and our expenses keep growing. We also have projects, debts, side hustles and frankly, all that necessitated pressure is enough to make anyone a hermit.
Also consider that to avoid absolute brokenness, refer to reason one above.
We don’t like being interrogated
Some friends and relatives are well meaning. But being asked the same questions over and over again could make someone’s hair spontaneously combust. And with how full of product our hairs are, I wouldn’t recommend it.
There’s always that aunt who will ask you why you aren’t married to your two-year partner yet. Then there’s the uncle who will ask why you haven’t left your job to go work for him. He calls the position one thing which essentially translates to a glorified lackey.
Your grandmother wants great grandchildren and your mother suddenly thinks your biological clock or age is something necessary for her well-being.
The pressure to start a family from family members gets a bit tough. And when they also question your career decisions, it’s unpleasant. So why attend an event that seems designed to make you second every choice you ever made to delay starting a family or pursuing your dreams?
Millennials can be petty. And they have the memory of an elephant or a scorned side chick. They remember everything, especially the negative.
I once called a friend the worst thing that happened to Nairobi since hawkers. He wasn’t amused. After three years of curt messages- he finally forgave me.
When family members make the sweeping generalizations characteristic of that self-righteous pastor who thinks condoms are the devil then we are less likely to show up to events.
A friend was dating a man from western Kenya and when she went to introduce him to her family, her gramps called him an uncircumcised heathen. She has never spoken with her grandfather again.
A family friend once asked me- when I made my interest in literature clear- why I would want to pursue it. Did I only see myself become an English teacher?
We don’t take kindly to this unkind statements. Be they harmless or not. We just won’t subject ourselves to them.
They can be boring
Some families always have the same sequence of events.
Gather; separate into age groups, separate into genders; pray; serve food from the age old buffet of dry chicken, beef stew, chapatti, pilau and minji stew; revisit your predetermined caucus; take one soda; wait for food to settle; introduce yourselves; listen to lengthy speeches; listen to lengthier speeches; have one more soda or tea; go home; rinse and repeat a year later.
There is no excitement. You can’t hang out with that favourite cousin who is ten years older than you because they are in their group. You are constantly running errands. There is no alcohol. Only one genre of “clean” music is playing at a volume that barely goes past mute.
For some reason, families believe that simply throwing people in the same venue will make them forge a strong bond- like ugali.
Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there. When our parents were growing up, they did it around each other. But as their lives took them in different directions, so did our interests.
We sometimes just don’t have the chemistry to spend five hours having non-alcoholic conversation. Most events just end up with cousins standing awkwardly around each other wondering what happened to the odd-one-out cousin who has piercings all over her face, bleached dreadlocks and tattoos all over her neck.
In other instances, we would just rather hang out with our friends who understand us and who can carry on a conversation with us. Sometimes we are tired from the 24/7 hustling that we throw ourselves into. Occasionally, we are just not in the mood of toning down our strong personalities after having to do so all week at the office.