Inception

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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…

Workplace Etiquette

I don’t tend to wear earrings. I think I’ve been in make-up exactly once in my life – at the behest of a friend who was so insistent on painting my face I acquiesced. I figured it was not my labour so why the hell not? As it turns out, I now know why the hell not. Make-up doesn’t magically disappear, you have to wipe and then wash it off. Safe to say, never again. Too much work. The last thing I want to do after a long day is wash my face. Glass of wine anyone?

So really, if you are paying attention, it should be clear to you that really anyone who spends a little time with me quickly becomes quite aware that my aesthetic is at best, hobo-goth. And really, that’s being generous, most of the time I look like trash. It’s great stuff.

The past several weeks I’ve been consulting at a firm where I have to do that 9-to-5-ting. It sucks: having to wake up in the morning, wear ironed clothing, make myself look passably inoffensive and then interact with other human beings while attempting productivity. Adulthood is such a scammy drag; I don’t recommend it.

But at least now that I am six weeks into the ordeal, I’m probably used to it. I’ve even gotten used to the fact that people insist on praying before and after our board meetings. I’ve gotten used to those two co-workers, one of them 100% seedy, who keeps inviting me to “service on Sunday”. I was even invited to Wednesday vigil last week – cue raucous laughter – when it’s not like Industry Night at Spice Route has become incapable of elevating my Wednesday nights.

I digress. I just want to make it clear that I thought I was a pro at managing this Nigerian work environment thing. My bosses call me “dear” or “darling” and I’ve resorted to calling them by their titles “MD”, “ED” since there is no way I’m calling anyone “sah” or “ma”. Yet somehow despite these qualifications, I was at all not prepared for what ensued this morning. I am so naïve I tell you, so naïve I could be pre-resurrection Jon Snow.

It’s 10am and a lady I vaguely recognise from Procurement walks resolutely into my office. She failed to knock but I appreciate that she asks for permission to sit and “discuss something with [me]”. I assumed it would be work-related, but at the very worst, I also readied myself for the proselytization I knew I’d receive from one co-worker or another each week. I was poised to display my polite nods and enthusiastic “thank you so much”. It would all be over in 15 minutes. I am so naïve.

Big auntie from procurement instead wanted to know why I don’t wear earrings. In fact, she wanted to know why I always look so plain, “no earrings, no makeups, everyday black…your clothes are so loose”. I am still shook as I write this. Who is this lady? Who is she? Honestly, what is our relationship? Did I miss the part where my guardianship was signed over to this big auntie? Did the black dress I wore yesterday scream “Save the Frump!”? What am I missing here?

My aesthetic is driven by what someone described (of another) as a lofty laziness and it’s unquestionably apparent. But, at the risk of repeating a cliché, it is my body so I can look as trashy as I goddamn please. But apparently big auntie does not feel that way. She kept prodding, “are you Deeper Life? Or Mountain of Fire?” “You know as a young woman you have to package yourself,” she says laughing, “young men these days have a lot of distractions, you can’t be looking like this”. This is for real. I’m at my place of work, dressed in black shirt, grey-black blazer and black slacks. My co-worker deems it fit to offer me some styling advice so “young men” will want to look at me/fuck me/marry me? Somebody help me understand. Please.

August Anxiety

How can I move so much and feel so stuck?

Work so hard and afford so little?

Do so much and change nothing?

Talk so much and make no connections?

Laugh so hard and feel so empty?

Try so hard and achieve nothing?

Painfully heading for a future I’m so uncertain about.

Another month is here and I’m no closer to figuring out what I want.

Nigerian, Female and Proud…ish

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?

Do You Want It All?

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:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

– Brownie Ware

What Do I Really Want?

When people ask me what I want the first word that pops in my head is “freedom”. But depending on who is asking, I always end up saying something easier to explain like “to be happy” or “to be successful”. For as  long as I can remember I’ve always just wanted to be free even though I’ve never given myself a chance to explore this feeling.

From childhood till now I’ve been constantly engaged…primary school to masters and straight to work. As a student I worked every summer holiday and never traveled as much as I should have. As an adult I was always in some kind of committed relationship – stated or unstated (usually stated).

I constantly feel so weighed down by expectations. The feeling that you’re not quite doing enough. Is this where I want to be at this stage in my career? Do I want to be with this person? And the main question comes – am I truly happy? This is usually when the depression hits.

If this feeling is so strong in me then why don’t I just do it? Take a year out, take time off everything and everyone and see what I want. Maybe I will eventually. But as of today, I don’t have the strength it takes to make the decision.

Perhaps it’s not what I really want?

What do I really want?

“Overbothered”

In the previous post, Cece talked about people being too wrapped up in themselves to care about other people’s problems. While I mostly agree with this, I’ve found that in Nigeria people become quickly bothered if said problem is “gist”.

We have this need to insert ourselves into situations and make it about us. Asides that, I’ve noticed that people get a sense of entitlement to every area of your life once you open up the smallest window of imperfection or insecurity. They pry and probe and ask and ask, and by the end of it you find yourself in a place where you’re defending yourself or justifying all your actions; rather than talking to someone who is genuinely trying to help.

More and more I’m getting to a comfortable place where I do not feel the need to explain away all my actions, or seek the approval or acceptance of every friend and acquaintance.

I say, own up to your mistakes, apologise when you can and after you’ve done all that, make peace with situations and focus on growing.

People form opinions really quickly, and its rare to change them. The only change you can really make is on yourself by trying to be better.