“We strip our lives bare of the colour that comes with variety till all that’s left is the black-and-white monotony of what we do for a living.
Is this what we call a life though?” – Ore Fakorede
Lately, I’ve been thinking about where my life is headed (Nah, it’s not because my 32nd birthday is less than a month away, neither is it because the realization hits harder daily that 35 years keeps getting closer).
35 feels like a deciding age that’ll tell if I’ll be truly happy or have to settle for what society and economic realities has in store. I guess after hitting 35, dreading 40 will most likely follow. Lowkey, it keeps me focused on achieving set goals for my life. I sincerely hope there is a point where this journey turns into savouring the reward of the sacrifices made in the past.
“Yes, age is just a number, but we can’t deny that 30 years means so much. It feels like a major turning point, a major milestone in life that ushers one into the path of who you truly are and what the rest of your life is likely going to be about. It’s almost as if the teen years and twenties are your years of testing the waters, figuring out who you are and who you want to be. Stepping into the big 30 feels like now, the true-life race has started – Sayi, 2019.
What got me thinking about the trajectory of my life centres around a conversation I had with my Dad last two months.
I was about to leave for work that day when he called me to say so and so guy who is the regional head in another bank asked if I’m still interested in working with them.
A part of me felt excited I was being sort after, while another part freaked because the possibility of taking up the offer and then having to find balance in a new environment felt heavy. Back then in the University, I always said I’ll not spend more than two years in an organization as it would be very boring. I saw myself switching jobs regularly, but alas, I have since come to realize I’m that guy who loves stability and comfort (as far as things are working out very fine).
I went to work that day confused about a lot of things. Should I reach out and set up the interview? I had initiated our first interview last year when I needed to have options in case my organization didn’t promote me. When my promotion happened, I ended the conversation. Now they were the ones initiating it, this gave me an upper hand for negotiation, but still, I felt uneasy.
At the office, my dilemma worsened when I talked with an ex-colleague who just resumed in the same organization. He gave me a rundown of their remuneration and it was better than what obtains in my organization for the same higher level I would be going for.
Why I was still conflicted? I mean, it seemed like an easy decision.
Well, after working 7 years and a few months, I have gotten to that point where making decisions isn’t all about the money or getting the next grade. I know this doesn’t apply to most. I mean, the consensus is to be loyal to yourself and go for the higher pay, and if it comes with the next grade, even better.
At the end of last year, I carved out a short term plan to switch my career path though in the same industry. Yes, covid-19 has messed up the plans to a large extent, but I’m still focused on following it through even though I’m not being 100% committed for now.
Accepting the offer will mean I continue in my current career path and truth be told, I’m bored with it. Yes, I have had it better than most and there are some aspects of the unit I enjoy, but to a large extent, it’s a mismatch with my strengths. Even my boss has said on several occasions I’m not supposed to be in sales, that I should be in either Internal audit or Risk management.
Those are the aspects that bring out the fire in me. It’s what gets me excited about my job. You see all that sales ish? Hustling to get accounts and build a portfolio? I’m so not cut out for it. How I have managed to meet my targets has been God all the way. Give me figures, reconciliation, or credit to appraise/structure, then you will see the excitement in my eyes.
I felt my head imploding. I was getting overwhelmed by the crossroads I had found myself in. I spoke to two senior colleagues about it and they helped ease my mind a bit. The major work had to be done by me. A few days later, I took the time to have a proper conversation with myself and weigh my options.
What matters most to me? Where will the decision I take lead me? Will it take me to that place I desire to be by 35 years old? Will I find true happiness in the path I choose to follow?
These questions made it easier for me to decide.
If I took the job it means hustling afresh, because getting confirmation as an experienced hire in sales is no mean feat. I’ll like to believe I have hustled enough and after 7 years plus, I don’t think that’s the path I want to continue in.
If I want to continue in this industry for the long term, I’m more inclined to job roles that will enable me to apply my intellect and analytical skills more. I want to challenge myself in sorting issues, or appraising credits. I want to do what I’m truly excited about.
I chose to not contact the man but will follow through with the interviews if he comes chasing after me with effort (though I won’t be taking the offer even if I got the job). For now, higher pay and next grade are not top priority. Heck, taking a gap year if affordable right now, will even be preferable to me.
I have desired a gap year since 2014. I wrote about it here. Then I was just about a year and three months in my current job. I didn’t take it seriously at the time because I felt I was still adjusting to the corporate world. Interestingly, I wrote that post in November 2014, and six years down I still have that same desire for a gap year, only this time the desire is stronger.
I also wrote about it again in 2017.
From the two posts, it’s clear I have always wanted a simple quiet life. One lived on my terms where I’m in control of my hours. I’m not a hustler and I don’t enjoy the rat race. Working a corporate job has always been a means to an end; to gain experience, exposure and most importantly, to build funds to be able to afford my dream life. It was never about me climbing the corporate ladder to its peak.
Over the years I have been working hard at building a path to financial freedom. But the thing they never tell you about financial freedom is that it requires a lot of patience. Patience that’s measured in years.
I’m looking forward to taking a gap year. I need one year to myself. One year to exhale and figure myself out.
Will I return to banking or the corporate world after the gap year? I honestly don’t know. How long will the gap year last? I don’t know either. I do know I need the time to breathe and enjoy the little things of life.
I posted the below caption recently on my Instagram feed, mostly to serve as a reminder to keep myself on track towards attaining my goal. I don’t want to be distracted by following the crowd or go about chasing money when within me I don’t feel happy.
I want to be that guy who stays true to himself no matter what. The guy who damned societal/conventional ways and chose to live the life he dreamed about. This is what I want for myself; to be strong enough to know what I want and also courageous enough to go after it.
“What is the meaning of life?
To be you, all of you, always, in everything you do – whatever that means to you. You are your own creator. You are your own evolving masterpiece.
Growing up is the realization that you are both the sculpture and the sculptor, the painter and the portrait. Paint yourself however you wish” – Nicolas Cole.
Thinking about these things fills me with hope, but mostly it’s terrifying and it gets a bit overwhelming, especially when the fear of the unknown creeps in. I’m like, okay what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like I’m going to burn through my savings during the gap year or stop investing to generate more passive income.
Then the thought comes that what if a bad investment happens and all I saved is wiped out? Or being in a shithole country with no health care system, some health challenge occurs? Guess I’ll just have to pick my life up from the scratch. After all, there was a time I so badly wanted to tear it all down and restart my life afresh. However, since crossing 30 years, all I crave is stability. If I’m to have a massive life change, I want it to be an easy and comfortable transition.
That’s why for now, I can’t just up and take a gap year. I mean, if something happens to my job today, I’ll feel bad for a while but I won’t immediately start looking for another job. I’ll finally take the gap year, though it might be premature and won’t be as convenient as I’d like. That’s why I’m taking my time and working towards it, even though once in a while I still get haunted by this comment someone left on one of my posts –
“…your journal is funny, serious, realistic, creative, and has great dreams embedded…makes me wonder why you say you don’t know what you want…when you keep pointing out what you want…guess you aren’t ready to push yourself.”
That line – “guess you aren’t ready to push yourself”. It’s one thing to dream, it’s another thing to have the courage to chase after the dream.
Sometimes I find myself daydreaming of the life I desire. It’s so peaceful and comforting. Other times, I legit get anxious thinking about it and everything that could go wrong. Maybe I have been making excuses such as – I haven’t hit the right savings target. When I do, I say nah, this won’t be enough. I increase it and try to reach for an even higher target, running round in the trap of money is never enough.
Another excuse I think I latched on to, was saying I had obligations to my family. Recently it hit me I was putting my life on hold. The other day, I was watching Season 4 of the series – ‘This is Us’. Randolph, one of the characters on the show I relate well to (majorly his struggle with anxiety and his saviour complex) was telling his therapist how he is the one holding his family together. That without him they will all fall apart.
But truth is, just as his therapist guided him to the fact, even if he is gone tomorrow, they will find their way and still be okay. So I’m learning to let go and know I’m not a hero and people will always be just fine, with or without me. That I have my own life to live and mental space to keep healthy by not carrying on unnecessary weight.
In all of these planning and daydreaming, I have it at the back of my mind that life doesn’t always work out the way we desire/plan. Sometimes it works out better than we hoped for, and there are times plans completely turn on their own and we find ourselves on an entirely new path. But the beauty of humanity is our ability to be resilient and adapt. What matters is, we decided to strike out based on our desire to fulfill our dreams. So wherever the road leads us, at least it was our choice to move and not us sitting around waiting for life to happen to us.
“It’s your life — but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” – Eleanor Roosevelt