Newbie

Welcome on-board and once again- congratulations on your new role. Be it a promotion at work, a switch of careers or organizations or you are kick-starting your career. While this can be a very exciting experience, it comes with a lot of anxiety and uncertainties and here’s why…

  1. You will have moments of immense self-doubt.

Between figuring out your new role and getting to master it, there will be moments of unadulterated self-doubt.  On one hand, you want to be the ‘wow’ newbie and on the other hand you are starting to realize that eeerm, green is what you feel: majorly because there is a whole lot of learning, unlearning and relearning ahead of you. You find yourself constantly trading between trying to demonstrate that you are up to the task and figuring out what you are meant to do, how best to do it and how to create your space within the system.

(more…)

Nillionaire

There was a time when dreams were hallucinations. Those days when you would wake up wondering if people with salaries used the same purses and wallets that you used, or if their purses were as big as back packs. You were a student surviving on lean budgets then. You questioned if they wore the same kind of linen as students, because you knew for a fact that the money was so much. So much that it could tear your cheap campus linen. There were days you would dream that your first salary would be used to travel the world, and the second one would buy you a car, then you would become a millionaire and billionaire shortly after…  Subsequently, you would buy a big piece of land in the prime South Coast, and another one in the leafy suburbs around the capital city. You would embark on the construction of the century. An  impossibly imperial castle or a chalet bungalow! On the beach piece of land, you would put up a private beach, a royal one. You imagined that the child of the child of Queen Elizabeth would propose to his girlfriend on this land. You would have this proposal scene well figured out in mind, and the royal architects that you would hire to design it would have to get the grand picture right. You cannot have room for disappointing a royal prince, helloo?  All the things money would buy you would be of the century because you used to think that the people of this century did not how to spend their salaries. Who works for a year without building a home? Or buying small toys like cars? Image result for millionaire dream

In your life as a hallucinator, you did not have much respect for people who defiantly refused to upgrade their lifestyles despite being fatly salaried. You often caught yourself wondering what their problem was, and if it was clinically treatable. You sometimes asked silently if they had some forces that stole their money, if their bank accounts had some holes which leaked their money out. Was it possible that they made an agreement at birth that they would pay for all the air they breathed between the second they were born and the second they got their jobs? Must be billions of billions by now!. Or maybe they were repaying ancestral loans for their clans.  As a dreamer, you blacklisted one friend because they confided to you that they had taken leave on the last week of the month because they could not afford fare. Keeping such a friend would mean that you were exposing yourself to the risk of becoming a nillionare. You were born with the blood of a millionare, and as such, you needed people of similar blood and same dose of halucinations around you.

The good Lord was faithful. He granted you that job. In a multinational…in a globally recognized company ! It was a mega shift, from managing pocket change, to managing a salary. A salary that was so much that it had to be confined in the walls of a  24hour secured bank. Imagine that!!!   It was a massive shift! You were becoming a tax payer, you were now eligible to advise the ministry of finance. After all, you had a Finance/ Accounting background, and your taxes would be a material part of the national budget…Back to the jumbo shift.  You were about to become a rent payer or a home owner, an electricity bill payer, a water bill payer, a designer wear buyer, a car owner, and a business class traveller around the world. The paradigm shift was a few days away. As you sat in the job orientation, you deaf listened through the financial management session. You knew what you were waiting for, the etiquette session. This session would tell you how to carry yourself around, as the young millionaire you were just about to become. Gusto and drumrolls! And those people truly knew how to massage your delicate ego and rejuvenate your dreams.  Ray mentioned the kind of suits that the society expected people of your calibre to wear, the kind of shoes and jewerly, the hairdo and the kind of people who were allowed to shampoo your delicate business head… He talked about the kind of perfumes young people of your stature were allowed to use- eau de perfume, not anything less. Eau de toilette for who?? You kept nodding heavily and smiling villagely as you took notes in the global notebook. On that bright day,you forced yourself to sleep in traffic: because that session had touched you somewhere where only a dream could take you back.

********

NOW. No car, no house, no land. Not much has changed. You have defiantly refused to upgrade, just like those people you thought needed clinical attention!

There comes a point when a person starts blaming their brains for having the ability to conceive such deceptive dreams. For faithfully making them believe that such a life is of this world, and attainable through months of work. That it is even attainable by a person purely depending on a single salary and no side hustle.

 

139561934314.jpgYou sit in traffic, in a matatu- as a nillionare. You moved out recently, after very many months of working. If your folks had not looked at you badly, if they had not insisted that you needed to take responsibility of your life, if they had not quarrelled you for getting home at 3 in the morning and accused you of treating their home as a bed and breakfast thingy, if you had not realized that were not saving despite staying at home…you would never have moved out. You did not move to a leafy suburb, ( Did you even think you would afford it?!). You moved to a neighbourhood just good enough to accommodate a starter who knows how to operate a budget. A starter who knows the complex math of fixed costs and can clearly differentiate between a luxury and necessity. One who knows how to classify a TV and a home theatre  as a luxury. Those ones will be bought later. Besides, you have a functional phone with earphones to keep you updated on what is happening around the world; and you have a laptop to keep you watching the latest movies released everywhere in the world;  Nollywood and Hollywood alike.  A starter, who now calls themselves a ‘self starter’ …( ‘I started from the bottom kind of vybe) . Needless to say, you do not have a car, at least not yet.

You look through the window, through the rain.Those dreams start haunting you. Your life is not where you used to see it. You feel like you are behind schedule. You have not afforded any holiday so far, and no matter how hard you close your eyes, you cannot see yourself affording one anytime soon. It is the last week of the month. You hate this week.  It is the week of revising your borrowing skills and taking honey to sweeten your voice lest someone decides to pay you for massaging their ears with your sweet voice. This week finds you so broke that  you could almost call your ex demanding for payment for all your time that they wasted.  It is the week where you spend a considerable amount of time refreshing your contacts and breaking the silence with long lost potential financiers. You invest time dropping a few texts here and there to cushion the reception of the borrowing text. You write down and rehearse ways of asking for money  without making your financier think that you are THAT broke. Mostly, you find yourself picking all manner of excuses/ small lies. Sometimes, ati you lost your ATM card, others you lie that you lend a huge amount to a friend and they have not paid you back, or all these other lies you people borrow money with, sometimes you want capital to grab some business opportunity. Any wise person will read through the lies and show some empathy. But you have to butter the right side of the bread so well that you cannot be denied that loan.

 

Capture.PNGIronically, this is the same week your next of kin will call you with all their financial needs. They ask for small money like 15k and over. Did the definition of small money change by the way?! How is 15k small money to a starter who knows mathematics? You cannot disappoint them anyway, you would rather take a loan…you know you are their child, they educated you and you are undeniably doing very well financially. They expect you to have a quarry of money. In fact, your parents believe that you, yes you penniless one, can open a bank for the entire village to provide financial aid to those people who cannot manage their finances at a small interest- if you wanted to. You cannot admit your financial strain lest they suffer a cardiac arrest. Understandably, you are mostly in a bad mood before you are paid, especially when you see your kin calling-calling you. And you cannot even tell them what a luxury is when they ask for money to buy handbags or shoes. Before end month, why oh why?! You are tempted to call that friend you blacklisted in your life as a hallucinator, you want to find out if they finally got their finances right and stopped booking leave strategically.

 

The sun is starting to rise. As you alight the matatu, you start having a constructive monologue, far from halucinations.From today henceforth, you will redeem yourself from this shackle of pay cheque slavery. “Get thee behind me satan” will be your favourite verse in the bible. You will use it when your hands feel like they should pick designer things which are meant for people who throw notes of small value in dustbins. You will use it when these friends who help you celebrate that salary which is as tiny as the small finger of a newborn child call you. You will confidently ask them if they will foot their bill, and meet you halfway in meeting yours. You will also adjust your tongue to appreciate low budget foods, until such a time when you will not know the difference between the salary sunup and salary sundown (Read as payday and end month before payday). You will be comfortable saying that you are comfortable eating life in a small spoon. You will stop living to the societal expectation and create your own bar, based on your financial height. Holidays will be enjoyed during the company holidays so that you can savour every moment. Scarcity creates value, so the fewer, the more valuable! You will create a mental switch. You will switch your mind off when people ask you foolish questions. Like “Kwani where do you take your money?”/ “Did you get a paycut?/ “Why don’t you have a car yet?”Then you will start humming the ‘started from the bottom’ anthem.

 

Somewhere between the financial plan, friends happen, and unplanned-for events and other small emergencies. You resolve month after month to have your finances in check, unsuccessfully.:-( Sometimes, the pressure to catch up with peers mounts and you end up spending unnecessarily, trying too hard to measure up to the profile that the society has set for you. As time goes by, end month draws further and further. Reason? You pay off debts and settle bills as soon as that salary kicks in. By the end of the first week, you are broke. Like properly broke/broke!! Loans shift from soft loans to long-term ones. Eventually, you realize that you are tangled up in loans and lifestyles beyond your reach.  But you have an image to protect, you have a way you want people to view you. Because of this want, you end up broke while trying to look rich.  Problem with our generation is that we want instant success… we want to live large without a back up plan. We want to enjoy our youth to the fullest and get the finest of experiences now’now. I stand to be corrected, but the way to wealth is simple. Spend less than you earn, and invest the difference wisely. In the grand scheme of life, we will all get there. Of course, with the right financial decisions  now. So SAVE and INVEST! The golden rule is that you spend what remains after you have saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third cent: Part one

Human wants are unlimited and insatiable, and that is why economics as a subject will never be irrelevant to the society, especially to students in THE University. You learn how to manage the little resources that you have to satisfy your wants” He hesitated; ‘little’ was not the term to use in an economics class.

Scarcity creates value,” he went on. “Some of you girls are already living in  well- furnished and refined apartments, or driving ostentatious vehicles, thanks to  the resources that you sitting on!” There was a roar of laughter…

…but again, when these resources are too available, they lose value, tihihi, and when the high bidders stop their bids, you start realizing that even your classmates whom you thought to be immature and unworthy of your attention can afford to…” he did not complete his statement. The joke was perfectly sinking through the class, and knowing glances being thrown to a few girls. (more…)

The third cent (Part 2)

Part one…

….5 months later: Brains encountered brains!
Like every other teenage girl, she was increasingly getting the urge to have someone
she could call her own. A man of her caliber who would understand her and walk the
journey to greatness by her side. And well, she wanted the fondling and squeezes
that made a girl’s heart race wildly. Her friends called such men glow machines
because they made the girls faces glow with euphoria whenever they talked about
them. She wanted to belong to someone, and to own him in equal measure. It’s only
normal that she had a list of ideals longer than her age and that the little girl still
believed in fairy tales. Most of her classmates already had that special person. She
was spoilt for choice with so many suitors around her who were working pretty hard
to win her over.
The lucky boy was Neville. He was a bright and conserved final year student in the
University. An eye candy in his appearance, and evidently wiser than his years. He
had never mentioned that he was interested in her and he first invested in forming a
very strong friendship with her. He was keen not to make any passes and always
chose his words carefully. For the first time, Nas had found someone whom she
believed matched her expectations. But no, he was only playing his cards right, you
know brains encounter brains. They went out for movies and played indoors games.
Dinner dates became more frequent. She started getting butterflies in the stomach
whenever they were together. At times she would make herself believe that it was
only a crush which would end, but then, crushes as she had read lasted for a very
short time. Neville had mastered the art of taking one step at a time. You know in the
University, relationships are formed within hours. People meet, get acquainted and
soon enough they announce that they are in a relationship.

During the time, Neville had secretly been learning her and playing with her psychology. She wanted to be respected and pursued with dignity, and he surely did. (Whatever dignified pursuit means, shrugs shoulders). He never proposed to her. Instead, he moved to the next level without any formal announcement. Naserian was human by all means. When they first kissed, he was very passionate. He however stopped without warning and told her that they had to take control their emotions. He did not want to spoil her future and he felt obliged to ensure that she got the best she could.
This was the beginning of Naserian’s series of wrong decisions. He would introduce
her to new habits and remind her that she had to take control of her life. There is a
first time for everything and it always gives a reason to have a second try. She saw
nothing wrong in alcohol as long as she did not lose control, or skiving classes as long as she made up for it during her free time, or spending the night at Neville’s
room as long as things did not go wrong. But losing control or things going wrong are
relative terms, no? He never prided himself how she was at his service, and she liked
him more for that. Three months down the line and his wish was her command.
Were they dating or just more than friends? Did he consider her his girlfriend? She
was already dreaming big about her wedding, children, home… in fact, she
developed a keen interest in books which talked about relationships and marriages
that defiantly stood the test of time. She had every reason to thank God for her
imaginary boyfriend. She had seen her friends in abusive relationships, or being
taken for granted, or being cheated on. Hers was, let’s call it-*different! 

When she lost her virginity to him, she had no regrets at all. After all, she was convinced beyond doubt that sooner or later, she was bound to lose it anyway. So many habits were now normal to her, as long as she was safe. For the first few times, a lot of caution was taken to avoid unwanted pregnancies or anything else going wrong. She knew he was faithful and so when she heard her friends talking about just how stupid it was to force your partner to wrap it up like a bonbon, she thought that she could as well save him the burden. This was the gravest mistake she could ever make.

(more…)

The certificate

I went through all my high school years afraid of the final exam. The pressure in the academic system was much. The idea of four years of study summarized in one single exam scared me. What if I fell sick? What if they only focused on the areas I was not comfortable with? What if I panicked and failed to think straight? And every year marked yet another increase in the workload which we would be expected to remember. Some concepts became easier by the years, but most became more complex. They fed us with something new every single day of the academic term; be it composite logarithms or a strange chemical reaction or biological process. It petrified me when a new idea made me forget a previous one. It frightened me even more that the subjects were all independent in content, each demanding a unique approach.

In my third term of the final year, I was scared that I was not prepared for the battle. We called it a battle because we had to prove ourselves. If you did not pass this exam, the system would automatically lock you out. It felt like a competition for survival where only the brightest would make it. But that was not the case. The system was not necessarily for the bright, it was for the lucky. But the harder people worked, the luckier they became. And so I worked hard- for luck. We did not give ourselves room for failure. My goal was not to get a free pass to the University, I only wanted to excel. I was too scared of failing, I was scared of what people would say, and afraid that if I failed, my life would henceforth be mediocre; and that it would forever haunt me that I could have done better if I had tried harder.

We went through a phase of momentary self doubt.When your memory suddenly starts failing you, you are bound to doubt your abilities. When the mock results come and your performance is below your personal targeted goal, you are bound to freak out. When you look at the volumes of books right in front of you and feel that you cannot handle them, you definitely start resigning to fate.

The teachers must have known how much the thought of failing stigmatized us. They took time to prepare us psychologically. They told us of girls who had made it big in life, despite poor performance in the final exam. They introduced us to bridging courses and the possibility of eventually getting University education through these courses. They told us about entrepreneurship and emphasized the need to be broad minded in our approach to life. They talked of the opportunity to explore other talents besides academics. I found the talk on talents a little hypocritical. We had gone through four years of academic pressure and minimal talent pressure. No one had really cared to invest in our talents… but in case the academic way went heiwaya on us, we could take the talent route! Wasn’t talent supposed to be most grown in our teenage years? Wasn’t talent more productive than concepts that we would barely apply in our professional life?

We were well prepared to deal with failure, but no one taught us how to deal with success. No one took the time to let us know what next after excellent performance. (Which comes as a surprise to most of us). Usually, it’s an answered prayer. The exams are never easy and you can only hope that the Lord shines his favor on you. It is this lack of preparation to deal with success that has seen some of the top performers drastically change and experience academic reluctance when they get to institutions of higher learning. It is only normal to want to ride on yesterday’s glory and cling on to the moment of success a little too long. We like to use our past achievements to prove to people just how smart we are. We expect to have the papers do the talking for us for as long as we live…

And because results were released just the other day, I caught myself scribbling this. For outstanding results, it’s a job well done: congratulations. But that is just it. It will make it easier for you to navigate your way out here, but there still lies a long journey ahead. The very same effort you put to get there, is the very same effort that replicates in life. The only difference is that you may not have exams with life, it is our choices that show how smart we truly are, far more than our abilities. Welcome to yet another new beginning, to another phase and to a new system of study.