Talking to my mum whilst on a business trip, in the usual “how is it going” banter, I mentioned my global head (female) was in town as well to which she instinctively responded “you too will be a director soon in Jesus’ name”. I casually mentioned I have no interest in the corporate ladder I want the money not the responsibility. Alas confrontation follows “I thought you wanted to be a career woman?”, “how old are you that you already want to stop chasing your career?”. My first reaction: “I never said I want to be a career woman” but as she insisted on banging on I quickly deflected by mentioning this director had no kids and has no intention to have any which was naturally followed by a series of “God forbid”, “what sort of life is that” which thankfully ended the conversation about my lack of appetite for the corporate ladder (though only started a suggestion that I have more kids …sigh)
I genuinely don’t believe there’s a problem with choosing not to have kids, neither do I believe there’s a trade off between kids and career (though certain phases may call for prioritising or compromising) in fact I am ashamed of myself for using this as a deflection as it went against my core beliefs on the topic but it got me thinking…
- I never mentioned a desire to be a career person it just happened to be what my family always said would suit me because to them I had no business acumen and seemed better fit for the corporate world and going through life I have found myself believing what others thought of my abilities.
- What paths have we chosen out of own interested or discovered skills and which have been thrust to us in inceptions we have carried on following even though it defiled our logic? Marriage? Having kids? Which career path is shameful and which is noble? What things do we want so badly in our lives but inceptions of old make us feel guilty to even think about? And then there’s the question where do you draw the line? What desires are unrealistic youthful exuberance with selfish, untamed longings and who really decides this boundaries? Society? Religion? Self?
Ah well! Still on a journey to figure life out…
I am proud to be Nigerian, I am proud to be female. But am I a proud Nigerian female?
Watching King Women ignited a drive in me I thought was lost. It pushed me to ask myself what I can do differently what I can do more. Ruby’s piece on asking your worth further pushed the agenda. But what do we do in a society that ignores your talent because you are young and female? They tell you “you haven’t done your time in the firm” and then you look at those who have apparently “done their time” and they are adding little to the firm but their age or masculinity. Because you are female you have to double your effort to get same remuneration and promotion as a male counterpart. Looking around so many firms, it’s appalling the disproportionate numbers of male to female at the top. Granted some women don’t aspire to get to the top and their dedication to the work show it but I wonder could some of these be because they know in the society we are in it’s wasted effort? Or have they been instilled with the belief certain roles are not for females? And at best, hard work just lets you keep a job? A friend abroad once said she can’t come home just yet; the why was simple – “As a young female I won’t get what I deserve”. So she stays abroad and climbs the corporate ladder…
I am proud to be Nigerian. I am proud to be female. Again I ask am I a proud female Nigerian? How can I be proud when my own country belittles my being female? With the expectation I should always remember I am less than a man?
The concept of having it all has been sold as the dream! Enjoy all life has to offer with the great career/own venture, nicely balanced with a supportive partner and a few kids as the perfect cherry on top. Then manage it all like a G!
The idea of having it all often leaves a feeling of failing. The sense that success is only complete when all the pieces to the puzzle are in place; “What is a great career with no one to share it with?” my aunt would often say, and then the partner comes but judging eyes point to the imperfection because a crying baby is missing in the mix (some will go as far as saying this is not enough till there are multiple offspring)…where does it stop? well it doesn’t.
The misconception here is a one size fits all approach. I often find people that “have it all” but are still miserable. Some even resent the very things we call “having it all” and derive no form of joy from it.
Ruby recently shared an article on the top 5 regrets dying people typically had, thinking about them I feel this is often the case when we live by other people’s idea of “having it all”. I am very guilty of this so I make a conscious effort to reaffirm to myself it is okay to want to have it all in my own way. It’s okay not to aspire to a managerial level because it doesn’t fit into your ideal life, it’s okay not to want marriage because for you it is more constraining than liberating, it’s okay not to want kids because you don’t see that in the life you want and no one has to understand it – it’s YOUR life (life is short as it is, why spend it miserable?) It’s okay to think you subscribe to the world’s idea of having it all then finding out it’s not really what you want. Define what it means to have it all for your own self but while you think about that ponder on this regret list:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
– Brownie Ware
My post yesterday on knowing your worth is pointless without this post.
The second aspect to Casey Brown’s TED talk is about asking for your worth, either by demanding a higher salary as an employee or increasing your pricing as a business owner.
I’m going to share my own experience of “asking for my worth”…in Nigeria.
I work for a relatively large foreign company in Nigeria, I’ve had the same role for close to five years now. I’m very good at my job. I can say this confidently because its tech and you can see when things work and how well they work.
Anyways, I was going through a phase where I felt stuck in every aspect of my life and I decided my career is one aspect I should be able to have total control over. So after a lot of thinking I went to my boss and said I was tired of not being compensated for my hard work because of “the financial situation of the company”. I demanded a promotion and a pay increase and I made it clear that I would resign if my requirements weren’t met. *brave*
– I’m giving the credit of this bravery to Lean In.
My boss didn’t want this so he spoke to the Directors and they asked me to come in for a meeting. At the meeting I was very clear with my demands, I even gave an exact figure for my new salary. It went a lot better than I expected. The Directors decided to double my current salary (it was never really much to start with) and offered a promotion as well. It felt really good.
Well, this was about 3 months ago. Neither has been done. Just different stories and reassurances.
I really wanted this to be an inspiring post, but this is just the reality of life.
I’m still working for the same company in the hopes that somehow they’ll keep to their promises. But to be honest, I’m spending most of my time looking for other opportunities.
Know your worth, ask for it. You might not get it the first time around or ever. But ask anyways.
“No one will ever pay you what you’re worth.
They’ll only ever pay you what they think you’re worth.”
– Casey Brown
We’ve all been watching the King Women series – they’re amazing.
After watching all the interviews I noticed most of these women have something in common, great partners. They all talked about how supportive their partners are and how it played a huge part in their success.
This really got me thinking…
Is it the same qualities that contributed to the women’s success that guided them to picking the right men? The right men for them.
Did they have such strong personalities and intelligence that it earned them the respect of their men?
Are men more supportive of women who are focused and strong-willed?
Do men only see women as partners or equals when they are “financially successful”?
Is there an element of luck?
Is there a religious aspect?
Were they picked specifically for this interview to suit the Nigerian audience because they are the successful women that also have the family balance?
Or in the end are they just like most Nigerian women that hide the struggles of relationships?
Honestly, I hope its the first point.