My Big Fat Greek Wedding made me think of another dilemma that
Nigerian children are sometimes faced with: what to study in school and what career path to select. For some children this isn’t a dilemma because the choice has already been made: these children grow up knowing exactly which professions are acceptable for them to pursue, because their parents have been drilling this into their heads all along, be it law or medicine or engineering. Others may have had freedom in their choices, but were told that they had to get at least a Bachelor’s degree, or definitely a Master’s degree; some were told that a PhD or MD is the only way to go.
This is hardly a scientific observation but the number of Nigerians I know from various online things who are in the science field or heading to or currently in medical or pharmacy school is mind boggling!
To my parents’ credit, they never told my siblings or I what to study but once we picked our areas of study, we were expected to stick to it and be the best we could be at it. Um, I won’t tell you how well that worked out.
Once the degrees are complete and you’ve started working, the fun begins, or so you would think. If, however, you have a father like mine, you’ll be encouraged to keep your eye on that higher rung of the ladder so that you’re ready to climb it when the time comes. Or you’ll be told to make sure you take full advantage of the opportunities available at the job, from volunteering to receiving paid training or moving laterally to gain a wider range of experience. Some of you don’t need your father to point these things out because it’s constantly on your mind. This is all good advice but most of the time I just want to be able to say “I am gainfully employed, hallelujah” and sit back and gbadun (enjoy), without having to think beyond that.
Nigerians aren’t like they though: if there is a “better” way to be, they will reach for it.
I’ve noticed that my
lazy laidback attitude is in the minority. A lot of my Nigerian friends, both those I know in person and those I’ve only talked to online or on the phone, are far more driven than I am. Many have post graduate degrees. Where I want a car that doesn’t rust, they want a luxury moto (car). Where I want to own my own (smallish) home, they’re describing abodes that sound more like palaces. Where I am content with a five figure income, I’m hearing people talk about when they make their first million. Million ke? I can barely count that high!
(At first I thought this attitude was purely materialistic, but I see now that for many, it’s this act of dreaming big and reaching for the moon, so that even if you fail you land among the starts, that allows them to make their dreams come true. I’m hoping that by this same token they take my um,
laziness laid back attitude and put a positive spin on it.)
But yeah, I’ve become happy with a lwer status quo than most, and that is so not the Nigerian way.
If a position that I am qualified for opens up and offers a bit more money, there is no guarantee that I’d apply for it, kia kia (quickly), especially if I like where I am at the moment and feel comfortable. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even know about the opening because I’m not regularly checking to see what job opportunities are out there. Sometimes I just want to be in an environment where I’m not overly challenged or stressed. Tell me there’s nothing wrong with this?
I won’t deny that I’m jealous of my high-achieving, non-slacking Naija brothers and sisters out there (not my biological ones, o!). You all seem to be intelligent people who are going places. I want to be more like you, but at the same time I sort of like the way things are.
So tell me: What drives you and keeps you reaching beyond the status quo? What do you have to achieve in your life before you’ll consider yourself a success?