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.

Asking For Your Worth

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.

King Women, Good Men

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.