It’s okay to have high standards

This other time I sent an article I had just written to a friend for impressions before putting it online; and most of the comments noted were reka kutwishimako (Stop bragging)! For some reason people have always taken me for a “bragger”; eti I tend to brag a bit too much; eti I have expensive taste… but then most the same people compliment me for having “my feet on the ground” (here I go, bragging some more), so I guess the bragging accusations are just aimed at pissing me of a little bit…

Although I wouldn’t say that I have expensive taste, I’ll admit to having a preference for above-average things. Not “pretty” things though; I’m not the kind of person who’ll hunt brands down. In fact, I tend to shy away from flashy things (apart from the fact that I drive a shiny red car). My shopping is more practical: I’m likely to go looking for good quality stuff; stuff that will last. That’s how I’ve been wearing some of my clothes for 10 years (thank God fashion doesn’t affect the men’s clothing department that much… or so I think), meaning that even though I may shop “expensive”, I don’t shop that much. Anyway, this post isn’t about my shopping habits and fashion sense… it’s about high standards…

So I do have high standards when it comes to certain things… it’s not my fault really; I was brought up and nurtured by people with high standards… one of them is my mum, the other one is my pastor. They always told me that I should “aim for the best”, and they never allowed me to think that something (or somebody, for that matter) was “too good” for me (neither did they allow me to believe the opposite). One of the biggest sacrifices by my parents involved giving up a lot of comfort and luxuries to offer me a good education. And education isn’t just about the school; it’s about the people you meet and underlying experiences… like stopping for a coffee at Café de Paris, in Monaco; after a private boat ride from St Tropez and a swim in the Mediterranean. Yes, I did that. It sure cost my parents a sh*t load of money (well, indirectly, since I didn’t pay a dime for any of it) but it allowed me to learn a thing or two about life: Le Béryl serves way tastier (and cheaper) coffee, and sandy-blue-water beaches of the Tanganyika have nothing to envy about the pebble-dark-water beaches of Monaco. The whole Côte d’Azur craze is just about prestige and seeing celebrities (I recognised none, by the way) being chased by Paparazzi; kind of like wearing huge logo T-Shirts (real or fake)… not my thing! Or maybe I’m just too broke to afford the experience again? I don’t know. At least I know how much I’d have to save to go back, and that’s exactly what I was telling my friend the other day…

I was telling him that you can’t live thinking that certain things are “too good” for you; and that it’s sometimes okay to indulge in the pleasures of life, at least once, to know if it’s “your thing” or not. I told him this trying to convince him to try out the “5D experience” in Kigali with Bertrand and me. He kept saying “izo ni iswingi z’abazungu sha!” (Those are white kid worries) eti it’s too expensive (approximately 7.70 USD, the ticket), eti he would rather take the money shopping… But to buy what that he didn’t already have?! What thing, worth 7 USD, could replace an experience as unique as a 10min 5D video session?! A friend in Seattle told me that they don’t even have it there, so can you imagine?! -SMH-

I don’t like saying this but I’ve realised that many Burundians have pretty low standards about a lot of things… Many times I’ve heard people say things like “ivyo ni ibinyaburaya sha!” (That’s European); or yet again “This is Africa!”… What do you mean THIS IS AFRICA?! Are we doomed to always be the last?! Can’t we be as good as – or better than – other people?! What do they have that we don’t?! Just imagine that one day we all decided that we will not tolerate the rudeness and unprofessionalism of the waitresses at Bora Bora; don’t you think the boss would actually do something about it?

I remember 2 years ago when I was about to buy my VW Polo, a lot of people told me I was mad to consider such a purchase. Eti “German cars are expensive; they are hard to maintain; it’s hard to find spare parts in Burundi and when you do they are super expensive… why can’t you just buy a second hand Toyota from Japan like everybody else? You’ll buy the expensive things when you’ll older!”…

My VW Polo

Once you’ve gone German, you can never go back

… But I’m not everybody else! And what guarantee do you have that I’ll have the means to afford such “luxuries” when I’m older? What guarantee do you have that I’ll still be ALIVE?! And if I am, don’t you think I’ll have more important things to worry about, like the welfare of my family and the education of my kids?! And where did this belief come from that German cars are more “expensive”?! In fact, it is known that they depreciate quicker than their Japanese cousins, BUT that they are more solid (I have never understood, by the way)!What people don’t know when they see me driving around in my Polo (all swaggerful and all that) is that it cost less than a “Carina Ti” would have cost me. Yes, it can be quite a pain in the behind when my Polo breaks down – as parts can be hard and expensive to find – but how many times has that happened (only twice, in two years), and what thing in this World comes without a few perks? All you have to do is be prepared… And that’s the other thing I was telling my friend…

… When you set your views on something “big”, you do all the work necessary to reach your target! That’s the one thing I love about high standards: they make you work! All status quo does is promote laziness and hinder progress! While most people here consider a holiday abroad as an “unnecessary luxury”, in my World, it’s a must-have! Hence I’ll work and save my a** off throughout the year to make sure I can afford my break when the times comes (all other expenses and priorities considered). And when I actually go on holiday, I don’t just go to sleep! I acquire new experiences that show me how I can improve my living, my environment; and I’m likely to make new contacts and friends!

This whole post isn’t just about holidays, cars or clothes by the way; it’s also about relationships (not just romantic ones, friendships too) and many decisions that I make as a human being… Why should I settle for less when I have the capacity to enjoy more and of better quality? What’s this life about if I can’t enjoy it?

Life has taught me that I’ll only live once, that I need to enjoy my youth while I still can, and that “akanyoni katagurutse ntikamenya iyo bweze” (roughly, a bird has to fly to find food); then there’s Coco who claims that our standards fall as we get older… So please let me set the bar high now; I may not have another chance in the future!

Before I go, I’d like to share with you an inspirational text from the book of Ecclesiastes (Chapter 11):

Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return.
Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.
Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.
You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigour are meaningless.


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