You have probably heard of the word “omoka”. It is a sheng term used by a section of young people in Kenya to imply that one has made it in life; but whose deeper connotation is instant gratification whereby an individual desires to attain his/her aspirations, mostly material in nature, within a short period of time and without delay or deferment.
In a world where social media is increasingly evolving into a basic need for the youth, social influence is equally accelerating, leaving a section of this age set drowning in a pool of instant gratification.
This trend is cultivating a culture of peer pressure among the youth, subjecting them to socio-economic stress that threatens their mental health as well as their economic future.
In view of this, and alive to the fact that about 75 per cent of Kenya’s population is aged below 35 years - according to the 2019 Census - practicing delayed gratification by trusting the process in everything the young people do will save the day and place them at a vantage position to live a better life now and in future.
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According to the America Psychological Association (APA), delay of gratification refers to forgoing immediate rewards in order to obtain a larger, more desired, or more pleasurable reward in the future.
For instance, one can forgo buying an expensive trendy item if he/she cannot afford it – or if one will strain financially - and decide to buy more affordable option/s without a struggle.
This is the virtue that remains critical for today’s youth to balance their financial knowledge for better lives. In many ways, it is the secret to living a better life considering that challenges, including unemployment, will always arise.
For instance, in December 2020, data from the Federation of Kenya Employers indicated that about 600 firms in Kenya laid off staff due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Quarterly Labour Force Survey of 2020 indicated that the rate of unemployment stood at 10.4 per cent in September 2020.
This shows that jobs uncertainty is still a major problem for many people and there is therefore need for individuals to build resilience and embrace the aspect of making better personal choices in achieving goals through delayed gratification.
One of the ways to do this is resisting social media influence and asking critical questions before embarking on anything.
The question of “is this a need or a want?” should be answered before making any purchase decision.
With information from Data Reportal Global Report of July 2020 indicating that the average amount of time each day that internet users aged 16–64 spend on social media is two hours and 22 minutes, there is a big chance that one will encounter posts of friends and strangers displaying their achievements.
Interestingly, rarely will you see posts about their struggles and this sends a strong message: it always takes time and happens at different intervals among friends or families.
In fact, the need to impress other people should never be a pressing item for anyone if someone is not in a position to.
Normalising ordinary life with plans of a better future should be paramount for the youth.
Despite the success stories we all hear from celebrities, youth should avoid material pressure and understand the struggles that these celebrities went through to attain their goals.
Do not be shocked, many of these celebrities had to wait and persevere to be where they are now.
From my understanding, the worry about a better financial future for the youth will always be terrifying at some point, but balancing between the current spending on what is necessary and setting a future savings base on which one can attain a bigger goal in life is key in bettering oneself.
While trusting the process, maintaining focus on the created goals that are measurable will lead to a better understanding of oneself.
Regardless of any youth’s situation at the moment, what matters is balancing the current life and the future. There is no need to go for additional expenditure on your credit card or loan just to impress the public.
By avoiding peer pressure, trusting the process of what youth do and setting goals of what youth want, patience will ultimately pay.
With that in effect, the youth shall be in a position to build a future that is promising not only to them, but also to future generations.
Ms Nadia is the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs