Coming from a privileged background is often associated with a guaranteed shot at success. But Richard* (28) thinks it’s put him at a disadvantage.

He talks about getting whatever he wanted as a child, how that has contributed to his lack of ambition as an adult and his fears for the future.

As told to Boluwatife

Image designed by Freepik

“Blame” is a strong word, but it best describes how I sometimes feel about my parents. 

They’re the kind of people you’d call “new money”. Growing up, I heard several stories about how my dad would trek to school with the one pair of shoes he wore everywhere; school, church and when he had to follow his dad to the farm to harvest yams. My mum had a similar upbringing; she grew up in Lagos in those “face me I slap you” houses.

Education and sheer grit changed my father’s story and brought him the money and connections he didn’t have growing up. For him, that meant his children never had to struggle like he did. Coupled with the fact that his first child — me — came after almost six years of waiting, and the second child came after I turned 9, his “my children will never suffer” resolve quickly turned into spoiling.

I don’t remember ever wanting something and being told “no”. One time in primary school, a classmate refused to let me try on his new watch, so I complained to my mum at home and she made our house help go to the market to buy the same watch for me that evening. 

I failed my mathematics exam once in JSS 3, but it never got to my results sheet because the teacher called my parents and told them about it. My score was too close to a D, and the teacher knew my parents wouldn’t like it. I don’t know what they discussed, but they gave me new exam sheets with another that contained the answers to rewrite it in my dad’s room. All I had to do was copy the answers in my handwriting. I got an A.

I’m not saying my parents didn’t teach me any values. They taught me to be kind and respectful, but I never really “struggled” or had to think about how to solve challenges. I just always knew mummy or daddy would handle it.

The first time I might’ve handled “adult” problems was in 2013. I was in my second year at a popular federal university. My parents only wanted me to attend that university because of the alumni network. 

But one lecturer came to the class and started saying “A is for God, and B is for me”, so my parents decided it was best to transfer to a private university. Why did I need to stress over a lecturer who was famous for failing students? 

It’s the same quest for an easier life that made me fake an illness to abandon NYSC camp in 2018 and has made it almost impossible for me to stay at one job for more than six months. I once walked out of a graduate internship because third mainland bridge traffic was stressing my life, and I wasn’t about the “waking up at 5 a.m.” life. 

That’s when I manage to get jobs. Since 2019, I’ve had three jobs. It’s 2024, and I’ve been unemployed for seven months. There’s just something unappealing about convincing potential employers to “choose” you that makes the job search stressful for me.

I’m not idle, though. I try tech content creation sometimes as a hobby, but it takes a level of consistency that’s difficult to keep up with. 

I’m a 28-year-old man, and I see the strides my mates are making, but I don’t feel the push to do more. I feel like I’m not living up to my potential. Specifically, I don’t know what path to take; I feel stuck. My best friend says I have classic “failure to launch” symptoms.

My parents don’t seem bothered, probably because they’ve already mapped out my future; my dad has real estate investments that will go to me after I get married. But I don’t even know if I’m interested in real estate or learning what it takes to manage it. I love my parents and enjoy a close relationship with my family. They support my lifestyle, and I’m grateful for that. 

However, I think my struggle with a lack of ambition and feeling stuck is connected to how they raised me. What’s there to look forward to when I already have all I need? 

I’d like to raise my future kids better. But I’m not even sure how to make sure they’re better adjusted, and that scares me more than I like to admit. 

*Name has been changed for the sake of anonymity.

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