“When are you graduating?”
“When are we celebrating you?”
“When are you finishing school?”
These are the questions I get now when I visit my aunt and uncle and happen on some of their friends. These are friends with whom I have no ties or relations to, but they however find the need to ask about my educational prowess, despite the fact that they have no stake in it. Some of them, might have come to get used to my graduation date shifting further with each year.
My uncle stopped asking me questions along those lines two years ago. We now have this silence agreement of ” ask me no questions about my education and I shall tell you no lies”. If he noticed whenever he asked me such questions, then he must be wondering why my school load tends to increase with the years instead of reducing.
It is not that I don’t like talking about my education or tell my inquirers proudly and confidently about when I will finally graduate. The problem is whenever I delve into answering all those questions, the conversation almost always takes a life all its own. In the past, people have not been very understanding and the fear of been judged nudges me to embellish the truth instead of full disclosure.
If any of you are Africans reading this or have African friends who share their experiences, then you will realize that in most of our cultures, it is the norm for our parents to dictate what we study in school and what career path we follow. We simply obey and do as they say because after all, they are in charge of the tuition.
Back in secondary school, I was a well balanced student. I did well in both the arts and sciences but excelled particularly in the sciences. My parents noticed and pushed me towards science more,never stopping to ask what I would have wanted to do. They wanted to have a doctor in the family, if that didn’t pan out, an engineer would do and if all else failed, then a pilot.
And so it was that I found myself studying Microbiology my first semester in the states. My uncle convinced me to switch to nursing, citing my families financial situation to which I obliged the following semester. Still at the advice of my uncle, I moved from pre-nursing to pre-LPN. Subsequently, I kept shuffling back and forth between micro, pre-nursing and pre-med and back to micro. You can imagine what this back and forth movement would do to one’s psyche.
It took me moving out of my uncle’s house before finding my voice (as long as I wasn’t under his roof anymore, he couldn’t dictate my life) and deciding what it was I actually wanted to do as a career path.
Why did it take me so long to admit to myself that this was not the career path I wanted? Or that I was never really cut out for the sciences , considering how I have been dabbling in writing for a long time and honing my skills for God-knows how long. Well, there is the fear of my parents (reason why I have still not told my dad I am not pursuing a nursing degree anymore, he would find out like everybody else on graduation day) , the fear of disappointing them or dashing their hopes and there is the ballast factor. The guarantee of a stable income and better life that a career in one of those fields promises.
What these unlicensed and unauthorized journalists fail to realize is that no one is more perturbed about my education than I am. It would feel really good to be able to say I am a graduate but the simple fact is I am not. But I am working towards that every day and giving it my best shot.
I have come to the conclusion that I am a late bloomer. By my culture’s standards, I should have been working on my PHD or a second masters now (no pressure) but I am not. I always have my epiphanies when they are long overdue and my hindsight is always 20/20.
If you are like me, know that is totally allowed for you to feel frustrated but what is not ok is accepting defeat, accepting the statusquo. You are not in competition with anybody and even if you were, what matters is that you make it to the finish line. It is not how about how fast you get there but how far you make it, and that finish line is the goal.
Have a blessed rest of the week y’all.