Despite his numerous attempts to hide his emotions, I could still see the disappointment in his eyes. We had been conversing for 5 minutes. 5 minutes! That’s all it took for me to wipe the smile off his face and send the poor boy drowning in deep mental malaise.
As I watched the effervescence disappear from his visage, I couldn’t help but feel like I was staring into a mirror. He looked exactly like me. Just ten years younger with a face full of teenage acne. Somehow, this tête-à-tête not only became a heartbreaking experience for him but for I as well. 15 Year-old-Me made me realize how much of a failure I was. I had a failed him. I had failed myself. I never lived up to my expectations.
Still in disbelief, he asked, “So just to make sure I heard you correctly: You’re not successful? You don’t own your own company? You don’t drive your dream car? You don’t even have your own place?” Each question felt like a shot to the heart. I looked in his eyes and I muttered, “No.” “What happened to our Forbes 30 under 30 dreams?“, he added. I chuckled and shook my head, “Life after school isn’t as easy as you might think.” Agitated by my response, he replied in a sarcastic tone “You don’t say“.
“Let me guess. You quit music too?” He already knew the answer to that. He just wanted to get his point across. He wanted to make sure that I get it through my thick skull that I am a failure. He was right! Growing up I was full of ambition. I knew working an 8 to 5 wasn’t me. I was destined for something greater. I used to excel in everything I put my mind to. Academically gifted. TV presenter by the tender age of 11. Performing on stage in front of a crowd of 500 people at 18. Made the local newspaper at the age of 21 for an innovative product I developed under my very own registered company. Getting positive reviews from radio stations in neighbouring countries for my products. Surely, I had the juice. Somehow, despite all these achievements, I still find myself waking up every weekday morning in my Nana’s house with a disgruntled feeling. I wake up each morning thinking there’s got to be more to life than going to work everyday and working my ass off for a measly pay cheque.
“Hey! Are you even listening to me?”, he asked. My mind had wandered off into a world of regret and self pity. After a long deafening silence, he asked in a hesitant voice, “Do you even have a girlfriend?”. At this point, I sank into my seat and looked away. I could not look at 15 Year-old-Me in the eye any more. I felt embarrassed. I was ashamed of myself. By now, his voice had lowered to the point where I could barely hear him. In a shaky voice, the teary-eyed boy concluded, “So basically, I grow up to be a loser?” Once more, I did not answer. My silence was all the confirmation he needed.