When I was ten years old, I wanted to be a medical doctor like many kids my age. Two years later, I decided I’d become a pediatrician because I love kids. Then my grandma got sick, and I realized I couldn’t do many of the things I thought I had so much passion for — I hate blood, can’t stand the smell of hospitals, and would rather spend my days around good health and laughter.
Growing up, all we were taught to want was to become a doctor, lawyer, mechanical engineer, or any other career on the shortlist of favored white-collar jobs our parents prayed for.
Regardless of my earlier epiphany, I still got into the university with my major as Microbiology. I vividly remember the day I realized I wouldn’t graduate in it. It was my second week in school. I didn’t plan or think about it for long; I just knew in my gut. There I was in the library with friends trying to figure out the answers to an MB 101 assignment, and I kept drawing blanks.
I got hit in the chest by a mack truck of panic, and a week later, I was in the Head of Tourism and Hospitality Management Faculty’s office, seeking and embarking on a new adventure. Reflecting now, switching faculties was where my struggle with self-doubt began. My confusion from trying to figure out what career path to take led me down a path I didn’t intentionally choose.
Back then, in the early 2000s, there wasn’t much to the tourism and hospitality industry in Nigeria. The only options for graduates were to become air hostesses, call center or ticketing agents, or work in a hotel. Being an air hostess was the most glamourous option, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do, regardless of the travel and cultural experiences that could come with it.
Thinking back to my 20s, I sound old, don’t I? I realize that I spent the whole decade forcing myself into a career that fell into my lap. It wasn’t what I chose, and I wish I had been more deliberate with those years. The 30s seems to be the year when regret starts to kick in with full force. The “if only” curse. I wish I would stop doing that now because not all my decisions were bad, and I’m a better woman for it all. Still, I wish.
I wish I did things better, and even more, I wish we would all stop doing this, beating ourselves up for the choices we made or didn’t make in the past. A friend recently told me, “Don’t beat yourself up for the past because you can’t change it. What matters is what you’re doing now to get to where you need to be.” Easier said than done, though, but here I am.
My name is Frankie, and I am 30 years old. I am still figuring out my path because I sincerely want to be passionate and fulfilled in my work.
My dilemma is I have many interests, and over the years, it’s been tough to choose one. Like you, I am still on the hunt for my ‘pot of gold.” Reading for inspiration, I came across this MarieClaire article which gives the perfect advice:
“Take a big pause. Thinking about what isn’t right, what you aren’t happy with in your life and career will provide a great basis for looking for the right changes. Making a list of what you would like your life to look and feel like in five years, what you want to have, and where you want to give you some clear objectives.”
— SCT Director, Isla Baliszewska
Solid advice. If only I’d asked her thoughts on this topic a decade ago. It feels like she’s speaking directly to me, which tells me that I am not alone. I’m not the only one trying to figure things out, and neither are you.
The COVID pandemic slowed down all I planned to do this year, but I’ve decided to release the pressure and live life one day at a time. It seems like the world, and my peers are leaving me in the dust, but even at that, I’ll take a day at a time.
Don’t panic. I remind myself, “Life is not a race, and you’re still here.”
If you’re in similar shoes as mine, I want you to remember that everyone’s path is different. As much as we’re in a hurry to make up for lost time and crush new goals, we still have to make sure we make the right choices for the future us.
The journey of life is so not predictable. So join hands with me, and let’s move forward in solidarity, honesty, and support. I accept my pace and will keep walking forward.
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