Generation X: A Dream Deferred

By Leoma Monaheng: 2018 Writing Challenge 2nd Prize Winner

Leoma Monaheng reading his piece
Leoma Monaheng reading his piece

“The good old days were gone” and the first rays of sunlight came with them a new dawn. Taking in the sights was a group of young men and women, on a mountain top, eagerly awaiting the sun to shine in all “his” glory. Rather than gazing solemnly, our ragtag bunch seemed almost irritable, they seemed to be daring the sun to come out.., they would not ask for this day, no, they wanted to take it, they wanted to grasp at every opportunity that day could offer them.

What was obvious to generation X was that nothing could ever be the same again, this was a new world, vastly different from the one that had come before.

In the past the elders had preached the unequivocal importance of a formal education, it was the “key” to unlocking “a future full of endless possibilities”, they  conveyed to them, adamantly, but low and behold, the world as they knew it was no more, times were a changing, tectonic plates were shifting, the world was in different place, in a whole other time…

For Generation X, looking back would not be an option, to move forward pragmatism would be key although to except this “new world order” would be a hard pill to swallow, they had given up most of their lives in pursuit of a promise, a promise of a brighter day, in exchange for this, all that was required was sacrifice in the form of blood, sweat and tears, for the elusive “Key” would not be obtained easily.

If they could only get that key then all their dreams would come true, they thought, what a shame…

True to form, they passed their tests, their grueling assignments, and they even got through their difficult lecturers. With that pulpit as the vision, and that one little piece of paper/degree/key as their sole mission, they persevered until finally, the big day was upon them.

Graduating from varsity was the epitome of everything that they had hoped for, all their goals, dreams and ambitions wrapped into one and recapitulated in a day.

As anyone can attest, graduation ceremonies are nothing less than grand, auspicious occasions always with a hint of pomposity. The elaborateness of such an occasion is meant to will a persons spirit, almost as if to say.., “that’s right, you made it kid!”

With a glimmer of hope in their eyes and armed with A4 envelope, (complete with all their transcripts and past achievements) in their hands, these fresh recruits into the “hard knock school of Life” were ready to take on any “contenders” and face any challenges that were to come their way, in a perfect world, perhaps.., for our heroes were in for a rude awakening.

Generation X was soon to learn that no lecturer, test or any class that they had previously attended, at times religiously, would prepare them for the outside world. It was the shock of the lives, could you blame them? To realize that the countless hours spent preparing and honing your craft were for naught.

This realization came in part after a series of traumatic rejections our heroes were faced with after tertiary, no corporate, non profit, parastatal wanted to “touch” them, much less hire them, our valient knights fell from glory, far from the starry eyed hopefuls they once were, they now felt like lepers.

The school system had not failed them, but rather, it had omitted some truths, 2 basic truths that were at the core of any productive society.

The first truth was that sales and marketing were the backbone of any profession, no matter your credentials, your skill set was an asset, an asset to be sold, to a corporate, non profit or whatever might “float your boat.” This meant that presentation was key, leaving favourable impressions was a must, and networking was an essential element to all those that wanted to succeed.

The other truth was that practicality was more necessary than theoretic knowledge, our world was ruled by products and ideas were only important if they could turn into something tangible and substantial.

Generation X was in for a doozy, what would they do, they felt out of depth, like a boat without a paddle…

However where there’s a will, there’s always a way, that way came in the form of entrepreneurship. The word itself resonates feelings of hope in despair. It means creation, more importantly, producing a consumer oriented product to solve problems that were otherwise unsolved before.

And so our heroes moved forward, they struck their own paths and left their footprints on the sand. To be ordinary was easy, however to be an entrepreneur would mean that one had transcended normalcy and chosen to walk by the unbeaten path, to truly be special.

What set entrepreneurs apart from mere mortals was their daring approach to life, this new “man” sought not the comfort of employment, but chose to take the drivers seat and be a an employer..

Far from accepting life as a harsh reality where dreams were only the musings of children, they sought to reach out and make their dreams a reality.

What our heroes knew was that this was their new reality, qualifications meant nothing as long as they could not be productive citizens in society, so they went forth to preach their gospel, the gospel of independent thought.

To be productive one would have to produce and so they did.., real education had finally taken root and our “heroes” began to use their educational qualifications for a higher purpose, they used their different skillsets accordingly, Biologists and Chemical engineers made bar soaps and beauty creams, some even went “far left field”, as some lawyers produced branded fruit snacks and Urban Planned began to  dabble in ad agencies.

No more would Generation X look for a handout, they had realised that in this “dog eat dog” world, you had to do for yourself, before you looked for help.