In Namibia, two young men made incredible impressions on me.
The first was named Franklin.
He strode in off the street into the Nando’s we were eating in and sat right next to us – all just to have a chat.
He just had this air about him, incredibly self assured and confident.
And for the ensuing 45mins, he would proceed to share with us his life story (not in the roll your eyes kinda way – it was genuinely a great conversation!):
~ how he left Namibia to study design in South Africa
~ how he had to come back to look after his younger siblings – and put his own dreams on hold
~ how he hopes and aspires to become an international screen writer
And as he told his story, we couldn’t help but feel empathy for him.
It’s hard enough for young people to navigate the future with chasing their dreams.
Balancing reality is always difficult.
But there was a phrase that seemed to ground him.
‘Here’s to life.’
Now Lance was another gentleman that we met – but in different circumstances.
As Stefan and I were leaving a little pizza place in Swakopmund (a quaint little Namibian town), Lance approached us, asking us for any food that we could spare him.
And as we handed over our leftover pizza – Lance also told us about his life.
How he had become homeless – no where to sleep, no one willing to offer him work.
He talked about the uncertainty most homeless individuals felt.
The fear that comes from not knowing, not having control over your life is what cripples people the most.
And as we said our goodbyes and wished him our best –
“Don’t worry, I’ll keep hustling.”
Then he ran to his mate – and offered him some pizza.
Both left town that night, beaming.
Now I’m not sharing all this in some sort of low key boast about how Stefan and I are such great people.
I’m sure any other person would’ve done the same for the two young men.
It was the lesson that I learnt from both these exchanges, that’s the important thing here.
Remember what I said before this gif:
Franklin lived by the phrase – “Here’s to life”
Lance always had hustle mode on.
Both believed in the philosophy that you are always 100% in control of your fate.
They didn’t blame anyone or anything – they just understood that life would naturally have ups and downs.
They just understood we all have to start from somewhere.
They wholeheartedly believed that if you worked hard enough – life would without question turn around for the better.
That if you willed it to be true, all your dreams can come true.
And this no excuses attitude rubbed off on me.
There are moments in life where we all feel that things are against us, that its just too hard.
But once you realise that the biggest hurdle in your life, is your own belief and attitude – nothing will feel out of reach again.
So here’s to life.
Ryan Cheng is the founder of The 88, and is passionate about telling stories surrounding travel, culture and identity.
Get in touch ~