I am turning 25. No, not today. Not even tomorrow. I still have a few weeks to fully climb onto the peak of 25. I will turn 25 next month. I was born on 25th May 1991 in a little hamlet called Kazo, Kiruhura. 25, born on 25th, 05. How cool is that? Do you now get the thinking behind this early celebration? This event is unique. Inspect the dates keenly. Self-ordained conspiracy theorists will drown in a pond of inane theories and poke fingers at me and call me alien names and fabricate baseless stories about me. That I was born with a fork under my tongue. Or they will hemorrhage worse things and gently put me in a section of a secret group with supernatural powers. I shit you not. I don’t blame them. I am turning 25 on 25th. I get a searing pounding when I try to wrap my head around it.

I am writing this at 2:00am.

The world outside is dark and discreet. I am insomniac, like a night runner. Only that I am not running, thoughts are running in my sleepless mind. I slipped out of bed and walked outside and breathed. The sky remains starless. The neighborhood is terrifyingly soundless. The dogs went mute. A slight cold breeze blows through and I briefly open my nostrils and take in the air. I stand there, hands folded across my bare chest, peeking into nothingness and thoughts gather at the back of my mind. Thoughts about life. Thoughts about myself. Thoughts about turning 25. Ouch! Time flies. When did I get to 25? I remember hitting the big two-0 and I jumped in delight. And now, it feels like I just blinked and 25 happened. It’s been fast. Really fast.

I am now a 25-year-old lad wandering in the world.

And what does making 25 really mean? This is an insipid, insecure age. At 25, you are neither regarded as young, or old. This is a drab, bland yet critical stage. Life gets interesting, yes, but it becomes challenging every ticking minute. I stood there and reflected about my life and asked myself, “What have you achieved at 25, Edd?”

Not much.

Sure, not much. To people looking at me from the other side of the fence, they deem me a successful young man. Like I discovered an antidote, or my startup is worth a million pounds. They fib. When I was 20, I looked at 25 as the final destination. Like, by the time I hit 25, all my dreams will be alive and standing on their feet. I viewed 25 as the year when I will be kicking back, lounging away and enjoying the fruits of my sweat. I looked at 25 as the year when I will be sliding a ring on my girlfriend’s finger and ambling down the aisle. Okay, I never looked at marriage that fast, but I knew I would be nearing the marriage trap. And now? Smoke and mirrors. It remains a tale. A sketchy dream drawn in crayons and etched in my mind.

However, I don’t want to come off as though my life is glum, like I flushed my past years down the drain. No. I didn’t. Before 25, I managed to chase some dreams and grabbed some by the collar. I started writing for the New Vision at 23. To date, this remains one of my biggest achievements. The New Vision kicked open doors and I walked through them with my unpolished shoes and burning hunger. I have met many people in the process. I have written weak stories and nailed some. My work has been fed to the dogs and praised as well. The newsroom is a cesspool of challenges. I love it there.

I have always had this insatiable thirst to excel and ply new roads. I challenge myself even when odds are against me. Last year, I challenged myself to writing adverts. I joined an advertising agency in town and dipped my fingers in ink and started writing adverts. I took on a copywriting gig because advertising, just like journalism, has always stirred something inside me. I love ads. I never had any experience in advertising. I never knew what a bloody TVC is or what a DJ mention means. I sat and took a beating. It’s a different kettle of fish in there. You think fast on your feet. You deliver. You have to deliver. You write even when words fail you. You crack briefs and hungrily tear through them and sell your thoughts. The clock ticks, loudly. The client roars on phone. Pressure builds up under your skin. And you write till approval. You write till your fingers start thinning. It’s heavy metal. It’s Metallica in your ears. This is an F1 race. It’s a jungle where the weak is devoured. You play Russian roulette with clients. Words play hide and seek. When an idea comes, you open your palms and hold it the way those folks in baseball hold those balls. You grab it by its hair strands and keep it close to your chest. I love it here, too. It’s challenging, but you learn a lot.

At 25, you try out any opportunity, I tell you.

I have learnt to wear different hats. People will tell you not to try hitting many birds with one stone, but at this age, I throw a stone and I expect two birds to collapse dead. It’s me. I rather try and fail because when you are past here, when you have sailed past this point, you have no room for failure. At 25, I have learnt that people in this city are not willing to employ you because you are young and look reckless yet this is when you are heaving with energy and boiling with fresh ideas. This is when you are fully awake and alive and your antennas are erect and ready to take on the world. The world is cruel. And unfair.

At 25, I have also learnt that relationships are like visitors. They come and go. Love is a myth at this stage. I have tried loving people. I have really tried, but things don’t work out. I am not in a relationship because I have learnt that, at this age, your life is like a revolving door or a banking hall. People come and go. People walk in your life and leave. Like a taxi. And life goes on, still, like a taxi. However, you try not to get hurt in the process; you remain grounded with open eyes. It helps.

I want to prowl the world. At this stage, you want to travel to every corner of the world before responsibilities cripple you and tie you down. I have plans of doing an African tour, like I am some sort of a celebrity and shit. I am not hugely fascinated by the US and European countries. I care less about the London Eye or The Big Apple. I love the Eiffel Tower and Monte Carlo though, but Africa has always been my bae, my first love. So, I want to travel around home. I want to go to Dakar. I want to go to Marrakesh. How does Harare look like? Is Botswana as beautiful as people say? I want to do a road trip on a Harley Davidson and ride down south. I love Cape Town (I am travelling there this year. I can’t wait). I want to go to Lamu. I want to carry my camera and go to Dar and, hopefully, step in a dhow and follow the direction of the wind. I want to go to Accra. If all goes on plan, I will go to Seychelles before the year ends. I want to follow roads and take pictures. I want to meet new people, new cultures, taste new food, take pictures and learn new languages.

Dreams are quite many, at this stage. So, you chase them and try to land them. If you fall while chasing them, you pick yourself up and keep chasing. At 25, the beer tastes better and looks harmless. So, you drink off stress and wash your sins down with a swig of Whiskey. You smoke out your problems with one puff at a time (I don’t smoke). At this stage, you want a Mercedes Benz, but your salary is its fuel for two days. You are at crossroads here. You struggle with career choice and grapple with life. I have learnt to live the best way I understand life. I do what makes me happy. My friends say I am weird, but even in my weirdness, I find redemption and peace and happiness. I am a loner, because at 25, much as you want many people around you, you have to trust very, very few people. Here, you read more and pray. You stalk people online and get your ass blocked and move on. It’s part of the deal. At 25, you have an Instagram account and you post pictures even when people loathe your selfies. They say Twitter is for ‘intellectuals’ and, since you are on a pursuit for validation, you follow their footmarks and get lost in the woods of hashtags and the traffic of the TL. I tweet less. 25 strips you to your bare butt and gives you a lashing and welcomes you to adulthood, fully.

At this age, life (the world) is fast, like Africell internet.