I remember back then in my university days, how my classmates from Lagos kept hyping the state. I read stories and saw stuff about Lagos. In fact, I saw Lagos as Las Vegas. I longed to go there and live the life. Explore and have mad fun. Little did I know, truly, who nor go, nor go know as everything that glitters isn’t gold (yea, I know, some are diamonds).
So after graduation, I told my parents I needed a vacation. I wanted to go to Lagos for some days. Of course they said no. I expected that reply from them, but my mind was made up. I made plans with Orubor. He was to pick me up at the park. One good tuesday morning, I got up, packed my bag and off I went. At night when I wasn’t back home, they called me from home to inquire about my where about. I boldly said I was in Lagos, the silence on the other end of the phone…priceless. They knew I could be stubborn and do what I want to do if I am really determined but that was on a new level of it’s own.
Well, I stayed in Lagos for four days and it felt magical. I told myself I would be back. I hadn’t experienced the city enough. I tried my best to work my service to Lagos. I had a bucket list of things to accomplish in Lagos. The stone I threw didn’t go too far as I was posted to Ogun state. Some weekends I went to Lagos, did some of the things on my bucket list. But it wasn’t still satisfied.
Several times I travelled to Lagos for interviews and I always hung out with friends. It was so much fun, my desire to live in this ‘magical’ city increased each time.
See the thing is, when you don’t stay in Lagos every single day or you just come in once a while and go to certain places where you don’t necessarily have to leave your house early in the morning, that’s when Lagos is fun. In all my visits, I never experienced the real Lagos, so I had the wrong impression.
Finally I got a job and the training school was in Lagos. I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to resume. Finally I was going to have a life. *sigh. What came next?
I thought I had read and crammed all I could in Uniben, but all that I did then was just child’s play. The first day of training, the Admin told us we were going to be stretched, physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. That was one promise that was well kept. They even told us if we were not engaged yet that by the end of the training they are promising us we wouldn’t be. For those in relationships, they were advised to make calls to their partners and ask for time out. I read, crammed and prayed like never before. That training school was like hell. No one had a life.
I suffered! Aside the stress from the training, I finally saw the real Lagos. To get to a place in the morning, you have to leave your house two hours early. I told myself I was going to choose Benin location at the end of the training. Call it being ambitious or the fact that I felt maybe I didn’t enjoy the four months because of the reading and exams, seriously, I don’t know what spirit made me choose Lagos location finally.
People say Lagos is a land of opportunities, but there are still jobless people in that same Lagos. The problem is we are all after white collar jobs. Yes, most of the industries are in Lagos, but if you want to be an entrepenure, why not go to start up in less competitive and less expensive states? And even live your life in peace. I once wrote a note on leaving your comfort zone…I remember when I was complaining about choosing Lagos, Afona reminded me of that note. I hate playing the hypocrite, but I just had to admit, that note be damned!
I remember one lonely saturday in Lagos, I was watching a movie (The Millers) and they were playing TLC’s waterfalls. The chorus of the song hit me hard …’Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to’. I felt sad. I asked myself who sent me? What on earth made me choose Lagos?!!
Well, I did leave my comfort zone to go hustle. I got what I wanted and by God’s own divine plan, when I thought it would never happen, I got moved back to my comfort zone with what I went to hustle for in Lagos. Win – win
Lagos wasn’t really that bad, well it was. I accomplished everything in my bucket list except the one I know God didn’t obviously approve of. I still haven’t partied wild and hard in a club. But on the bright side, I went to the beach several times, entered the ocean, let the water take me and sweep over my legs. I rode on a horse, whipping the horse and getting scared of being thrown off. I tasted the salty ocean water too. I had several amazing pizza and ice cream hangouts, went to the cinema, made some really cool friends, I saw Wizkid perform live (remaining D’banj). Had nice business meeting at posh restaurants (thanks to the job), finally had a road trip (with strangers) and it was cool, made me know my social skills has improved greatly. Old me wouldn’t even go in the first place once I hear strangers would be there. One other thing I didn’t do was go for karaoke friday.
But then, the madness of Lagos. I just couldn’t deal. There was no life. All I had was, wake up so early, force my self out of bed, hurry to get ready for work, dash out of the house, get into a bus and settle down for the hours of traffic just to get to work. Thanks to the traffic I always completed my sleep in the bus every morning (at the risk of passing my bus stop). Thankfully I never passed my bus stop but it almost did happened on several occasions. From traffic madness, I’d enter office madness. Either I’m battling with paper work terror or I’m going out to face same traffic while going to see a customer or I’m going for those demonic late evening meetings. Then I’d close late and face another traffic. I’d get home wasted and tired late at night, struggle to eat something, fall into bed and wake up just when the sleep is getting sweet and start the cycle of craziness again. I thought to myself is this living really?
So when I have my family, is this how I’d get to see my kids grow? Only time I’d have quality time with them is during weekends. I came to the conclusion that two days is too short for weekend. The stress started telling on me. I kept falling ill and rushed to the hospital from the office. That was late last year. I was fed up. Was it worth it? Just to make a living, was I to sacrifice my life? My sanity? I wanted to quit but thanks to good friends like Ify (Cake n Hampers), Ewaen, Makua, KC, Olugbenga, Afona, Einstein and Musa who talked sense into my head and of course, I was bonded for two years. So I had no choice. Tried working for transfer to Benin, it was declined.
I told my self, shey you longed for lagos? Now you have it. Endure it. Slowly I got used to it. But deep down, I was not happy. This wasn’t the life I wished for. I needed something and a place where I would work and still have time to live life. After the marathon of the week, to step out on weekends to have fun and relax seemed like a bad idea. I mean, weekend became like days for healing. Time to rest my worn out body only for it to get beat down again the coming week. What a life! Suffer!
You go out during weekends, have fun and all but then when going back home, the traffic would have a way of ruining the day for you. Say you go on a sunday and get back late, monday morning is super rush hour. If I wake up anything after 4 am. I’m doomed. My life was officially in fast forward. I wasn’t enjoying my life. I needed to breathe and enjoy the little things of life. Then the pressure on those working out of Lagos is something else. You sleep and then wake up to one demonic mail from oga that there’s 7:30am meeting, attached to the mail is a to do list that has to be presented at the meeting. Hian! Are we machines? The system didn’t care. Married or unmarried, we are slaves to the system.
I just made up my mind that this was a training start for me, to ground me, break me and make me stronger. I chose Lagos and I just had to suck it up. That’s how I survived over one year in Lagos. Nothing changed. Life became a routine of fast forward and rush. Public holidays became diamond. Then sometime early this May, heaven smiled on me. I got a mail late one friday evening as I was about closing…that changed a lot of things.
I was transferred to Benin effective the next monday. The mail came that friday evening o, they expected me to clear up all my back log and inform all my customers that same friday evening that I was to leave Lagos by monday and report at my new office. Lagos mentality for you. Everything is magic and you just have to learn how to beat the system.
I was happy yea, it came when God wanted it to. I didn’t push for it after it was declined last year. I felt free. But time to move out, I developed cold feet. I was going to miss a lot of people, that was my only regret but in this life, it’s career over love or emotional sentiments (as far as you are not yet married). So I packed and moved. I thought Lagos was done with me. My body got the message that stress was gone for good. On the road, my immune system that had been corporating after the last time in the hospital in november, decided to take a break. I came down with fever and it got worse. I entered Benin terribly ill. I couldn’t even resume that week. I was like that for three days. Weak, sick and feeling dead. I threw up anytime I swallowed drugs. I was at God’s mercy. I got better and resumed the following week.
Less pressure, I left my house 7:15 am and got to the office 7:45am. Ha! This was bliss! Though I still close late but not as late as when I worked out of Lagos. The pressure off my pocket? *grins broadly. When I get home I can still watch movies and read before I decide to sleep. I don’t sleep with alarm anymore. I don’t feel like there’s someone at my back pointing a gun at my head threatening to shoot if I slow down. I feel so much more relaxed. There’s pressure on the job but the pressure of the environment gone has really helped a lot. I feel so refreshed and sane. This is living. Seriously, this is living.
I’m glad I started from Lagos, I have learnt the ropes of the game and how to beat the system. Lagos has a way of making you sharp I guess. Maybe now, I’d be able to live life and have a social life (I doubt that sha). Anyway, I’m happy now and thankful. No one knows what’s coming tomorrow. Like O’nelly said, do challenges ever end? They only exchange hands.
All we can do is live for the moment, enjoy the good times as they come, tackle the hard times as they come too. Step by step that’s how to live life.
The first monday I resumed here, I drove straight to Uniben at close of business. My destination? Mischai joint at June 12. The first bite was heavenly. Brought a rush of memories, I had to pause and soak it all in. Great final year night class memories. Then after reading for a while, we’d come out to talk at the faculty. Orubor and I, sometimes Ejiro too, would take a walk to June 12 to get mischai. Great friends, awesome moments, beautiful memories.
In the mean time, I’m glad Benin now has a cinema. It would have been horrible. I remember then in uni, I used to say why would I waste N1,500 to watch just one movie in the cinema when I could use 200 box to buy a dvd compilation of films and watch several times on my laptop. Sigh! Mentality truly changes. There’s something about the cinema, I call it the cinema effect. It’s better experienced than explained.
One thing I hope we have soonest in Benin is Domino or Debonairs pizza and cold stone. I’d never try kada’s pizza ever again or like Osams put it kada(ver) pizza. Tufia! Those people almost made me hate pizza. Thank God I went to Lagos and knew what real pizza tastes like.
Anyway, the koko is I’m home now and and I brought the prize with me. I feel blessed and I don’t know…optimistic and hopeful too.