Yesterday, I put up a question on my Instagram Story, asking people to share their 2020 ask in one word. My word was ‘Courage’; I am asking the universe for an abundance of it.
When the answers came back, I noticed that for a lot of people, ‘Clarity’ is their word for the year. Hours ago, I had a conversation about how dreams become heavier the older we become. How, if we’re not careful, they lose that shine youth possesses in abundance and begin to take on a dull hue that threatens one’s sanity. The price for failure becomes steeper.
I studied Microbiology at the University. It was a course I chose myself, and one I enjoyed immensely up until my 200 level. At that time, I was like “dang, this isn’t what I should be studying”, and so I threw myself into journalistic activities on Campus and spent my final year in school being a student and President of the Union of Campus Journalists.
By the time I graduated, I was incredibly confused. That gap time before NYSC was one where I constantly existed somewhere inside of myself, dredging up answers to the questions that swarm within me. My 3 month internship the year before had been done at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, where I met some pretty amazing people and had some of the best conversations with strangers. It was also the place where I crossed off being a medical microbiologist off my list.
So here I was at the end of 4 years with a degree, and the solid knowing that I was going to choose a different path. I knew exactly what path was mine; I wanted to work in Communications and in the Development sector. I wanted to tell human stories, amplify great work and connect people through the power of words, images, motion pictures, and experiences.
I knew where I was going. But how was I going to get there?
“All clarity begins in confusion.”
The statement above renders me silent for some seconds, and then it makes me go “so true”. Because it IS true. Think about a child who is taking her first steps; you can tell that she is not certain of how it’s done but she holds on to a table, stands on her wobbly legs and puts one foot in front of the other anyway.
When I was trying to figure out how to make this transition from a degree holder in the sciences to communications, I began to do things that mattered to me. I volunteered, A LOT. One of those volunteer opportunities where I handled some communications geared towards the organization of a conference led me to the first job I got after NYSC, but that’s not today’s story.
When I got to camp, I applied to be a part of the Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS), got selected and was the News Editor for a period. During Service year proper, I had a short stint at Cool FM, Kano, as a co-anchor of the show, Corper’s Diaries. I started a book club for my students where we read books and shared stories.
There I was, this Science girl, taking small steps in the area of my interest and doing Communications.
There is nothing wrong with being confused. We’re all confused at different points. Life is this huge thing that I think it is unrealistic to expect that you will always have your next steps figured out. There are just so many possibilities, and it is natural to arrive at crossroads.
The danger is in letting those crossroads render you immobile, which we allow to happen too often. When we are confused, especially when it seems like everyone else has it figured out, it’s easy to do nothing and simply go with the flow.
Resist that urge that tells you to self-preserve by staying immobile.
I do not have all the answers. Perhaps I have none, but here are three things I can share with you on how to un-drench yourself from confusion.
- Ask yourself what you care about
I care about impact, about women, about storytelling, about freedom, about growth, and about development.
The things that I expend my energy and resources on have one or more of these threads running through them.
What do you care about? We must all take the time to ask ourselves this question periodically. When you do, even a bit, don’t sit on that knowledge. Do something with it. If you’re trying to get a job as a writer, start writing and share your work. If you want to work with an NGO, start volunteering your skills with one.
You have to meet your dreams somewhere, and that begins with having some understanding of what that looks like. Notice I said ‘some’ and not ‘all’? That’s because it gets clearer as we go. Don’t try to figure everything out at once.
Don’t be afraid to practice.
Not with everybody; with a few select people.
Sometimes, these people don’t have the answers too. A lot of times, they don’t. But maybe they will have a word that will be what you need in that season.
Maybe, if they know what you need, next time they come across a vacancy that seems suited to the path you have chosen, they will remember you and share with you. Perhaps they will mention your name during conversations in ways that can give you a hand up on your journey.
People can’t help, if they don’t know what you need help with.
- Learn, learn, learn
Any kind of change or mobility requires that you build capacity.
Read a lot. Read targeted material. Take courses. Start today.
It’s the 2nd of January, and I want you to know that we all have questions. We all have areas that we could use some clarity in. You’re not alone, and there certainly is nothing wrong with you in particular.
Life is long; give yourself grace to have moments that are muddled. Give yourself grace to figure those moments out.
I am rooting for you hard this year.
Love always, from another human on this journey.