By Florentina Twongyere
Put up your hand if you experience the Monday blues even when it is a Wednesday? Not surprisingly a multitude of people will eagerly raise them in agreement. Although we are eager to enjoy the fruits of our labour (paycheck) this alone is unsatisfactory in giving happiness and contentment. Three quarters of the people I know are stuck in 8-5 jobs that they absolutely abhor and are miserable enough to want to staple their eyelids together to escape this daily hell. Money can buy job satisfaction for only a period.
Maria, a career-driven girlfriend, once rang sobbing over the phone that she had abruptly quit her lucrative bank job. She was utterly withering away in a trade she was dispassionate about and just could not take it for another day. She took some months off before she finally started her own consultancy firm and is the happiest I have seen her in years. Maria, however, is one of the lucky ones. There are others who quit, re-think their decision and dive back into that pool of misery.
As a female in the middle of shifting from my mundane occupation into a business I am more fervent about, I have found that the biggest setback is FEAR. Yes, fear is the insect that eats away at your conscience, forcing you to cower away from unknown horizons and edging you into complacency and wishful thinking that you had the courage to prevail and go forward with realizing your dreams. Many females harbor thoughts of shifting from secretarial work to master bakers, from bank tellers to boutique owners, from teachers to restaurant owners, managers to commercial farmers. I could go on but you get the picture. It is nerve wrecking to move into an industry you are clueless about.
The reality is that you can never know what you are capable of until you try. Cliché, I know but it comes from ages of proven theory. A Baganda proverb goes ‘by trying often, the monkey learns to jump from the tree’; the monkey understands that without trying it will never discover the joy of jumping from one tree to another. It is the easiest yet hardest thing to let yourself go and try to push for your ideas when all you picture are all sorts of terrible future scenarios.
Women are universally labeled control freaks and I think that in itself is a root that holds them and a lot of other people back. To have no control of your destiny, to have no say in what tomorrow holds is a frightening prospective that would make anyone panic. We become content in the careers we hate because they offer security in terms of pay, insurance and even the upper echelon’s promise that circumstances will get better. The bandwagon effect doesn’t help either that people judge you for having a job that others would kill to have. It is so easy to un-question that feeling of misplacement when the people surrounding you are so accepting of their careers and push you to be grateful of where you stand.
To up and leave is in itself an action that requires backbone and bravery.
I believe that to quit one’s career, you detest and take one that brings fulfillment is actually taking control of your life. I personally quit administration to shift to interior design and architecture and it has been the greatest experience of my life. I may not have the security, events may not go as planned and I may not have all the answers but I feel I am on the path I want to be. I am the writer of my own destiny and are exactly where I want to be. I am excited, contented and overflowing with purpose every day my feet hit the ground. The reality is it is daunting and sometimes you envision failure, are afraid of what the world might throw at you but nothing is more motivating than knowing you are moving in the right direction.
Do not worry that you will be an outcast; you will be surprised that there are people out there who made exactly the same move and are willing to offer advice, insight and lend a helping hand when you make yours. Be unafraid to research, consult, network with professionals in your desired field. It is the first step that will allow you to gradually progress. I wouldn’t advise you though to quit your job with no plan B, the actuality is that you still need money to cater for your various responsibilities. I worked two jobs both in administration and interior design until the latter started to grow that it required my full attention and then I resigned to pursue it full time.
As a woman, such a bold move will be questioned, you can be sure of that. People expect stability but fret not just as long as you have the support of your family, friends and you are good to go.
This is written to inspire every African female so that when and if she decides to make that change to a career that fills her with purpose and happiness, she is aware that she is not alone and that there is a whole universe out there waiting for her to happen to it. So grab your heels or African sandals and go conquer the world.