When I was younger, I remembered hearing my mom spoke about how some of the girls in the community 'keep up themselves.' Whilst some may not know what it means, I am sure that many have heard it before. Essentially, if you get pregnant in your teens, you didn't keep up yourself. That would mean that you studied too many boyfriends and they not pay attention to your books. Once you pass 20, you are in a better light, but if with that age, you are educated and have a job, you have done well keeping up yourself. In fact, when my mom spoke, if you get pregnant after getting your subjects and having a job, while in your 20s, you keep up yourself, regardless of whether you married or not.
Keep up yourself, it would seem, comes with a mental focus on career, education and marriage. While in high school, you will hear a lot about getting pregnant, hardly little about sex, although implicitly, when you hear about keep up yourself, it really means 'don't go have no sex.' However, sex education is not something I think a lot of Caribbean parents sit down and discuss with their child. In fact, I kept thinking how uncomfortable it would have been if my mother had ever sit me down to talk about it and I am glad that I understood clearly what she meant by keep up yourself without having the actual 'talk'.
As you become more mature, your focus on keeping up yourself is more so for you, rather than disappointing your parents. You may start thinking about education and career and wanting to be totally independent. For me, my motto was, "me na go depend pon no man fi nothing." Maybe it was because of all the things I heard my mother said, for example, "man nah give nothing, fi nothing." Whatever the case, my dream was to have a good career (which I am still searching for) own a big house on a hill (which me na get yet) and never married (which me done do). Still, for most parts I am extremely content with what I have accomplished today, how my life has changed and would arguably state that "Keep up yourself" is a good phrase to live by.
Recently however, I began thinking how, so often, we can forget about certain aspects of our lives by focusing extensively on one thing. I realised that hasn't it been for my health issues, I would have still been childless, trying to finish my PhD before making that decision. I heard stories about persons who when they were ready for other parts of their lives to fall in place, it was, in some cases, impossible because they waited to long. I started wondering, can you keep up yourself too long? Maybe not, but I came to the conclusion that in everything we do there must be balance. Do not find yourself too much to the extreme of certain things. Do not put yourself in the position to live with regrets. Therefore, I say to you these two two things:
Firstly, there is a time for everything under the sun. If you are in high school, stay focus on the goals at hand
Secondly, Strike a balance, but make good choices. If you are in a career or at college/university, consider the other parts of your life. It might be the need for a spouse, a home, a family, a child etc Whatever the case, put a plan in place because one thing I know, age does not stand still while you seek to accomplish the different things in your life. Do not have all the degrees in the world, the best job and maybe even riches only to live a life of regret by later realizing one less degree accomplishment, one less career success would have been much better if it would have given you time to have a family.