Your Driving Force and Kickstarting Your Career Journey: A Tale of Three Women

I am one of three ladies who tell themselves three words, “we don’t settle!” Hence, last week when my sister said to me that she felt like giving up because of the frustration of not getting a job in the Nigerian health sector, she pushed a trigger button. So, I asked her, “You want to give up? What does it even mean to give up?” My friends had a similar reaction the last time I tried to give up on something big. I had received the rejection mail from the last scholarship, which I was looking forward to in 2019. So, I told my friends I was beginning to look for Nigerian universities that offer any master’s programmes that I was interested in.

Their response was, “Hell no! If you are looking for Nigerian schools, it means you are giving up. We don’t settle, so no giving up. You keep your eyes on your target, intensify efforts, and keep applying. How many schools did you even apply to this year?” Whenever one of us says she is frustrated at her current job and wants to quit, we evaluate and see if something can be done. If not, we support her leaving because we don’t settle for jobs or situations not meant for us.

I guess that as you read this, you would think about how you probably do or don’t have friends who are exactly like this. I get it. My friends are unique, and friends are good, but it is not just about that. It is about our individual inner drive for achieving our goals. It is this drive that we exhibit and makes a stranger astounded by us. It is what people see in you and make them want to give you a try. It is what my friends and I transfer into supporting one another. If either of us lacked this, it would be difficult to pull or push this person. I have other friends who exhibit similar passion, and they generate results. Let’s call one of these friends Mara.

Mara used to be my business partner during my undergraduate programme. She started an advertisement firm, and I was baking cakes, so we were going to work together to market my product. We were pretty serious back then, but now I can’t even remember how that idea died off. What I can remember is she was driven to market anything marketable. To figure how people find this drive, I asked Mara and my two other gang members, let’s call them Tay and Fay, what motivates them to pursue their careers intensely like they do. I chatted with Tay, Fay and Mara, and these are their responses about their driving force and how they started their career journey.

I had a rough childhood and had to learn to be very independent because I realized that I might not get what I want or where I want to be if I kept waiting. I think it was in my 2nd year that I said, “I am not going to wait around for people to hand me things.” I was very hungry that day, I just drank garri with nothing in it. I know this sounds a bit cliché but that’s what spurred me to make that statement to myself. I can vividly remember the exact moment.

So, I started a student advertisement firm with 30,000naira support from my dad even though mom didn’t think I could do it. Well, mom was right. I failed but developed confidence and persistence so, I moved on to other things.

I used to think my motivation was money, the desire for the better things in life, the foundation I have plans to build, the name I want to be autocorrected on Microsoft Words. But now, I just think it’s second nature to figure out my own way. I do not want the comfortable mediocre life, I want to touch lives in a rich way, I want people to know me and what I’ve done, I want to inspire men and women who build everything from practically nothing. So, it’s no longer about the money, I’ve realized I can make enough money to be very comfortable, but to make an impact, I need more money than what can make me comfortable. Currently, I’m in the dilemma of what road to take to make the kind of impact that I dream of. I hope to find this in a saner environment soon.

Finally, I’m stubborn and I don’t believe you can’t do anything unless you don’t want to. Aside from that, you can do anything you wish. I am not trying to be motivational, but that’s how I really feel. It’s why I’ve always taught myself most of the things I know but there are also some things you must learn from others.

– Mara

So for Mara, she could not afford to wait for the handouts. She, however, tried to get one last one of 30K naira from her dad and launched out to try to be the Mark Zuckerberg of Marketing. Lol! She is not there yet, but she is doing great. Let’s read from Fay before we dive into the lengthy read from Tay.

Around my 3rd year of studying two different agricultural courses, I discovered I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I don’t have money so, I felt I was dreaming too big. I crossed it off my list of goals and began thinking of something else I wanted to do. For a long time, I didn’t know what this was hence, I was opened to trying everything else- I tried setting up a jewellery brand, making pieces of jewellery with fabric. I got bored and didn’t even know how to scale the business, so I went ahead to learn hair styling. Halfway through it, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. So, I learnt fashion designing. This one was interesting because I enjoyed it. But I didn’t like dealing with customers, I saw the issues with customers while still at my boss, so I decided I wasn’t going to practice it full time.

But, in all of this starts and ends, the one sense of motivation I had was that I just wanted to do something for myself. I don’t want to be a liability to anyone. At some point, I went into social media marketing because I liked remote working and being a freelancer. Finally, I figured what I wanted. Everything else was going to bore me if it wasn’t filmmaking. So, I came up with a way to earn money that wouldn’t become toxic to me while I try to pursue filmmaking as a career. I went into coding because there was money in it. Then, I stopped because I realized coding will require my full dedication and it wasn’t what I was looking for. Then I started a personal shopping business and I have been consistent since then. It is flexible like I want, and it fetches me some money to support my filmmaking development process. I have also been able to use the social media knowledge which I acquired in this business, and I am now enrolled in filmmaking school.

I guess my drive also increased when I lost my sister. It just felt like I now have more responsibility and the best I could do for my parent was to not become a liability while trying to sort my life.

– Fay

I like to think of myself as a natural independent. However, on deep introspection, I find that some external factors contribute to shaping me into what I have been and what is currently obtainable. My dad is a huge influence. Though multifaceted this influence, I find both the negatives and positives worthy to take lessons from.

1. From my dad’s narrative of being the only graduate in his immediate family and achieving this at later time when compared to his friends and while juggling jobs and raising a family, I constantly reference that time is just a social construct and impossible is nothing. There’s nothing on earth that can stop me from hitting my life’s goldmine even if the timing differs from others.

2. Growing up, I had almost everything I wanted but at some point. Lost some of these things. I got withdrawn from a school I really liked to one that was just there because of the expenses. From this, I learnt that it is not enough to have great plans or wishes. Money is the pathway to many great plans.

3. Till date, my dad despises his eldest brother who was rich during their youths because in my dad’s words, “…he was not a visionary leader. If he was, all of us would be graduates by now.

The two lessons I learnt from this were:
i. Nobody really owes anyone anything. My dad’s rebuttal to this is often “but he was collecting all our salaries then, so why not?!” So, on the other hand, if he took their salaries, it’s be unfair of me to say he didn’t owe them anything.

ii. Their relationship made me feel a sense of responsibility for myself….and by virtue of extension of my kind nature, responsibility for others. My siblings especially.

I hate the burden of hate. I see it in my dad, and it is a sore sight. At the same time, I hate the pressure of being responsible for others. Hence, to strike a balance between these two, I know that I need to have sufficient motivation and potential to earn high. This also helps me be kind at my pace and to the absolute best of my capacity, as far as I have the intent to be this.

4. My parents’ separation in 2009 opened some door for full-fledged poverty which my family is yet to fully recover from. Because of the intricate causality between my parent’s relationship and our economic status, I learnt that your choice of partner is a vital life decision. Although even with your best knowledge, no predictability is guaranteed. So, continue to strive to achieve the best of your capacity so you don’t lose it all if your relationship does not work out.

– Tay

Such great responses from these women. Here are some of the driving forces that can be picked from their stories:

  • Knowing what you want.
  • Willingness to try. Mara started an ads firm. What does she think she is? Fay started and ended different initiatives. This means they invested time, resources, energy and then backed down to try something else. Try as many options as possible. To learn, unlearn, relearn until you find that thing you want to stick with.
  • A can-do mindset. These women framed this same motivation in different words but all they were saying is that you can achieve anything you set you mind on. Time and circumstance may differ when compared to people around you, but you can.
  • No one owes you anything, you are responsible for yourself.
  • Money is important to making your dreams come through so while you pursue what you really want, it is okay to do something else that fetches the money, just like Fay.
  • Independence. Take developmental initiatives for yourself, take your lessons from experiences, and make of it something beneficial for your development and also strive for financial independence because even if you are able to get handout, having some financial support of your own can increases your chances. One time, I wished to change my laptop, so I lamented to someone rich and asked for support. What he replied was, “how much have you saved for this?” Sometimes, it might not be money that proves your independence but rather tangible evidence that show that you are trying your best. Evidence like applying to many opportunities, acquiring different skills, reading and learning about where you dream to be.

I hope you find some inspiration from the stories of these women, find your driving force and act on it to start your journey to where you want to be.

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