I stopped updating this journal to release myself of the need to prove I had made the right career move. It began to feel like I was trying to control my life events and make them seem aspirational. It is fine to track progress, but when it became sort of pressure, Me trying too hard to prove changing jobs was the right step and I wasn’t failing at it, I had to hit pause. Also, I stopped updating because I was exhausted from all I had to juggle from the start of the year. I needed to give myself space to breathe
even if a part of me calls it laziness.
I took a quiet walk on one of the public holidays in early October (one of the pastime activities I had abandoned due to life pressures). I sat for a while after the walk to review the prior months and it hit me that I had lost myself while trying to survive.
I called my now ex who explained I’m only realizing I had stopped engaging in those hobbies that used to give me joy/balance because I was now more at ease and close to the final stages of what I have been working on.
“There’s an end to every storm. Once all the trees have been uprooted. Once all the houses have been ripped apart. The wind will hush. The clouds will part. The rain will stop. The sky will clear in an instant and only then, in those quiet moments after the storm, do we learn who was strong enough to survive it.” – Grey’s Anatomy S09 Ep24
There were times I pondered maybe my path would have been easier had I stayed back at my previous workplace. If there is one thing that stretched me this year, it is the pressure that came with being an experienced hire in sales. The first few months were not easy and it got me questioning a lot of decisions I had made.
I went through several feelings; anxiety, flooding, and overwhelm topping the list. It got so bad one time after being involved in an accident on my way for a surprise birthday visit to my ex. I remember crashing the next day after the accident, I was losing it and disoriented. I’m thankful for Aneshe and Obinna who stayed online with me that day. Sadly the one person I needed to calm me down was the one who even sought of blew it out of proportion for me. The next day I was at the hospital and had to be placed back on anxiety medications.
There were multiple times I wanted to quit my job and go sit at home but I had gone too far in the pursuit of a major life goal, quitting was going to jeopardize it. I had to hold still while looking forward to the day of liberation.
When I resumed my new job, I knew it was going to be a transitory phase but I dreaded writing it here because I did not want to jinx it. One thing I have come to understand about my life pattern is, things don’t exactly go as I plan (especially when it comes to timelines). I wasn’t ready to go through the long waiting period, so maybe not stating it was sort of like me trying to play life. The plan was that by the third month of working I’ll have had my relocation (japa) plans set and I would be off to my next life phase.
I knew deep down, I was going through another transitory phase even if I didn’t want it to be as long as the first one. I told myself this was a chance for a redo. I was going to be patient this time around and maintain a positive attitude. I was going to live life and be happy, I wasn’t going to put my life on hold or postpone happiness or deprive myself of joy just because I’m working on moving to the next phase in life. I had read a lot of self-help articles to know that wasn’t the way to live. Yes, I had to prioritize expenses but it didn’t mean I wasn’t going to enjoy life. The japa journey is a very costly one so I tried to find a balance.
Things like International vacation trips, fancy meals at restaurants when there was rice at home, new shoes and clothes were paused. I started the year holding my office suits after getting them back from the dry cleaner and I said to God, this is the final lap, I don’t want to get new suits or long sleeves because, at the end of this season, I’ll be done with banking and moving to a new life phase where the clothes won’t be needed.
Becoming a Senior Banking Officer (SBO) was just to fulfill a long desire to leave the Nigerian Banking industry at that grade and well, also enjoy the new pay which turned out to be very helpful in settling some of the japa expenses. I reminded myself of these each time my mind questioned if leaving Access Bank was the right step. I would have peacefully waited out the japa process while working in Access bank, but I definitely would have been financially strained. Each time this dilemma rose, I had to refocus on my present, I had made the move and there was no need to ponder on what could have been.
My plans to play life failed, lol. I planned three months because I was scared of going through the confirmation process in the sixth month. In as much as I took a bold step of doing the one thing I had been scared of career-wise, truth is, I never intended to stay till the confirmation process. I always knew it wasn’t an easy path but it felt safe knowing I was working on leaving before then. Oh well, life wasn’t having it. This has indeed been the year of me doing things I normally won’t do due to fear or laziness. The third month I hoped I’d have all sorted out, was the month the japa process fell through.
I remember that Monday morning at the office when I saw the rejection notification, I sat down in a quiet corner, staring at the words repeatedly. My world went quiet for a while because it meant I was not going to have my planned early getaway. I was going to be there for the confirmation process. The short transitory phase was indeed going to be a long one as I had feared. The funny thing is, I knew this was going to happen. I know my life patterns, this was a redo of the transitory phase I went through after my NYSC where I worked about seven months in the State Civil service before my career in banking kicked off.
Those seven months will always be a reference point in my career journey. I didn’t handle it well. Each day I went to that office, I never felt like I belonged. I was constantly searching for a way out, I deprived myself of joy and many other things. Patience was far from me as I kept refreshing my emails even till the last day when my training school call-up mail from the bank dropped. I smiled from my heart for the first time in months, and all was right with the world. Only then did I feel like I had a reason to live life to the fullest.
As I sat looking at the rejection notification, I realized this was it. Indeed the long transitory phase was going to happen. Weirdly I felt calm even though I was sad. I took a minute or two to process it. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry or feel downcast. I picked up my phone and called my agent, after which I called another agent and started the process all over again.
I left the office for my car (I did this a lot of times when shit became overwhelming). I took personal time out and accepted the reality that I was going to be at the new job longer than hoped. It was a downer, but the way to get through it was a change in attitude. From the first day I resumed, I was in flight mode. Yes, I wasn’t a cultural fit but I didn’t even give myself the chance to settle in. Everything felt like a replay of when I worked in the civil service. Truly, I had come full circle with a chance for a redo.
I knew I had to adjust my attitude and not deprive myself of joy. Those areas I was failing at in the redo, I was going to fix. I started interacting more with my new colleagues, I intentionally sought to know them one on one and made good friends. I started writing my name on the logbook each morning I resumed at the office. I spoke out more and participated in bonding activities. I allowed myself to belong and immerse in the new culture and environment.
I give myself props for making good changes and getting my attitude right in the redo. The japa plans falling through was the wake-up call I needed to correct how I got through this second transitory phase. This new attitude gave me new ease in navigating my new job and starting the japa process all over again. However, I caught myself failing several times, especially as regards handling anxiety or impatience (I later gave myself grace as I realized, even if it was a do-over, I wasn’t going to be perfect at it).
Aneshe, who was one of my major run-to for shelter when anxiety hit, told me not to worry about starting the process afresh, and that I was being redirected. I’m still holding on to this word, my eyes are still watching God. This particular story is still being written and I know soon enough in the nearest future I’ll be able to draw lines and understand the reason why what seemed almost sure went south and I had to start afresh with a new school and new course.
I look back at the previous transitory phase (2013) and remember a particular job I wanted and thought I was on a sure path to getting, but it also fell through and I let it break me. Soon enough, I got the Access Bank job and well, looking back now, being able to redeploy to Benin City and run away from Lagos madness and then finally have a beautiful career with performance bonuses which to my knowledge hasn’t been exactly equaled by anyone of my peers till date gives me the courage to trust the process that I’ll look back someday and see, this redirection was ordained to give me better.
I was scared because the previous process that was rejected took four months, so to go another four months meant I was going to have to go through the dreaded confirmation process. I lost it and had a mini panic attack.
I’m so thankful for my friends who have been such amazing support systems for me. If not for them I don’t know how I would have survived this journey. I ran to them every time my feet were shaking. They allowed me to rant, allowed me to be vulnerable without judgment, or make me feel like I was too much. They watched me break under the weight of anxiety but they held me strongly and I never felt alone through the entire process. Their soothing words helped calm me down and see the world was not truly crashing in on me. I remember the Sunday calls with Solomon that usually calmed me before the start of a new week.
Practicing gratitude gave me so much space and helped me see that I was indeed blessed and privileged, and doing very okay. I could easily see why my now ex kept saying to me – ‘Sayi, you don’t have a terrible life’.
Anxiety is a bitch, it makes you see doom all round like the next minute disaster is going to hit you so hard and that would be the end. Gratitude helped me breathe easy and realize I am doing okay. It enabled me to see the process of confirmation wasn’t as scary as I had painted it in my head.
Someone on the relocation group chat shared a bible passage and how she exercised her faith with it. I saved the passage and went back to it times when I was losing patience.
I wrote a predated resignation letter in early August when I passed the stage the first application got rejected. I committed the letter to God, praying that everything works out. I always had the conviction that once I passed this stage with the second application, all was going to be well till the very end. I dated the resignation letter October 15, effective October 31. I shared it with a couple of friends. From my calculation, I would be done with the entire process ending October, and that way I would not have to go through the confirmation process after all.
I got a shocker soon enough from my agent that I needed to wait a little more time before applying for the visa. I later realized they were not correct. Dealing with admission agents will have to be a topic for another day, but just in case I never get to, know these agents are also humans and they do not know it all. Do your research and take ownership of the application. Be fully involved in every step.
This new development threw me into a frenzy. I was at a wedding in Abuja dancing and trying to enjoy myself but every minute my mind would travel back to Benin and the confirmation drama awaiting me. I mean, I was already so excited with the thought of not having to go through the confirmation process especially as I had somehow managed to lose a major part of the portfolio I had struggled to build, but here was my agent telling me something else. I wondered why then did I get to complete the previous stage so quickly even having me take a more expensive route to buy myself more time. Nothing made sense, and it seemed like anytime I was making progress something new always popped up to ruin my joy.
It felt like the breakthrough I had been waiting for was being snatched from me. Truth is, even if I could apply, that was not going to be a good month because my direct boss was on vacation and I was relieving him, so there was no way I would have been absent from the office. There was nothing I could do but accept another gbas gbos yet again and deal with it. It took me about two weeks to recover from this seeming setback.
That’s how my visa application was delayed, and October 15th came and went. That morning I posted it on my Whatsapp status in sort of mockery of how I said I’d resign on that date. Last week of October I had to adjust my resignation letter to December 14, effective December 31.
While I was adopting the right attitude, miracles started happening. The process moves faster this time around, what took me four months to accomplish the first application was done in about a month! Each month became easier as I intentionally worked on getting out of flight mode, but then this made my skills noticed and my workload was increased.
Work became hectic and I lost myself. I was juggling work, relationship issues, and the travel plan. Though the pressure regarding confirmation was almost non-existent, maybe because at this point I knew no matter which way the travel plan went I was sending in my resignation notice by year-end but the workload was crazy.
That walk during the public holiday was a lifesaver. It made me realize how far gone I was. I was on autopilot, focused on surviving each day. I wasn’t even noticing the colors in the skies. It felt like my life was on hold waiting on a travel decision or if I was going to go on a gap year. This wasn’t the life I wanted for myself, nor the redo I planned for. It was going well, till work activities made me start fighting to catch my breath daily.
To get back my life I decided to quiet quit. I was not planning on building my banking career any further, so why was I letting the job take so much from me? I started doing the barest minimum expected of me. I showed up on time, did the basic things I needed to do, and then close. I wasn’t worried about my performance anymore, I wasn’t bothered about meetings or the opinions of my bosses. This is when I started writing this post in my head, but I was too burnt out to type. The title had since come to me – the winding down.
I was winding down my banking career in Nigeria and the adjusted effective date (December 31) seemed perfect as I always planned that by 2023, on my 35th birthday that December I’ll resign. The calculation was based on working in Access Bank and I had the goal of being a Senior Banking Officer by 2023, such that even if I was sent to another state to become a team lead, I knew I was leaving banking that year.
Then it seemed like the perfect plan, well, till I suffered grave financial losses and all the silent flaws in the plans became very obvious. Anyway, I became an SBO a year earlier than planned when I switched banks. So it seemed apt that I also get to resign from banking a year earlier. But this adjusted resignation date wasn’t the plan I committed to God’s hands the day I wrote my resignation letter and dated it effective October 31.
This process has taught me about faith and convictions. I had that conviction but my faith was shaky. I had gone through the previous chats on the telegram group I joined and saw how one applicant stood out, having his visa approved in three weeks, unlike the others that had to wait an average of 8 weeks. I had a conviction that was going to be my testimony as well, and it became stronger when the authorities started working on visa approval turnaround time to hasten the process. People started getting their visas in 6 weeks.
When I found out my agent was delaying my application based on their wrong information, I initially tried to be patient with them but later on, I lost it as someone in the same stage as I got his visa approved. I was getting fed up with the office, I wanted out of the career. I was mentally zoned out and needed a long break before venturing into a new life phase.
I sent them a detailed mail about my plans and how I wanted 3 months break before resumption because I need to distress before starting a new phase, I needed something with a semblance of a gap year. (This gap year will come at the right time, one thing I know I have learned this year is flexibility with my plans and right timing).
When it seemed my mail wasn’t working – I sent this rant via text to Pascal-
So this is where my head is at…
I know it’s fear. The fear of the unknown has prevented many Nigerians especially due to how messed up our economy is, to strike out and explore and do new things because success is not guaranteed.
This is the start of the last quarter of the year. I started this japa journey, I think officially in October last year when I wrote my IELTS… so it’s like one year now.
Due to the gbas gbos I have faced on the journey, it’s beginning to feel like fate doesn’t want me to leave this banking career. So I’m asking myself, am I tied to this career? Is it wrong to want something else? Then the whole religious thought of… if God wanted it for you, I would have worked out since… oh I know nothing good comes easy and that the road is not short. I experienced this during job hunting after NYSC … I know I should persevere and all… but fear is taking center stage. I want to be brave and bold and be willing to take risks.
I think I am even more comfortable applying for this visa myself even though it feels delicate and sensitive. But based on what the agent did with the application to the school and changing information I gave them, can I even trust them? Plus other complaints from people about how their agent didn’t do this or that and they have advised us to import our application to monitor it daily once the agent lodges… is it not better and safe if I apply myself?
I know it seems easier to pass the blame on the agent if the visa doesn’t work out, but I’m not one to avoid accountability. I always accept my mess and deal with it and move ahead. That has always been me. That won’t change now.
I’m truly tired of my marketing career in Nigerian banks and I truly want something different. So why does my mind make me feel like I’m forcing myself out of God’s will for me? Who says this must be my life?? I know people want to be cautious and the whole fear of the unknown and want to stay in a comfort zone even when I’m not happy or excited about the job. I’m not stuck, life is full of opportunities….
Even if this transition doesn’t work out and I leave my job… Time may pass but I know there are still many roads to take that will still lead me to purpose. So why I am still scared even when I’m surrounded by safety nets and privilege? I don’t pay rent. I have reasonable savings and investments in both dollars and naira… I don’t exactly have dependents I’m financing… my folks still earn well… so what is even stopping me from taking a long break even if I don’t want to go to school but just stop working to clear my head??
I want to take this risk. I know how long it took me to get to this final visa application stage. I’m here now and I think I should even do it myself so I can control this critical aspect and be sure the correct information is submitted. Some people applied on their own on the group chat and they got the visa. I can reach out to them and learn the steps.
So why am I scared? This is the last quarter and I honestly don’t want to be working in UBA from January next year. I want a new life and a new phase of my life to start. I want to sit with this feeling I’m feeling that the start of October is me finally evolving away from this banking career I have had for over 9 years now and it’s okay to let go of it and find some new career path.
And mostly I want to know it’s okay, that even if I apply myself and the visa isn’t granted, the world will not crash in on me. And it will be very okay to still resign from UBA and focus on The UK plans. I mean, I still have that in the works, or if I can’t meet January resumption maybe because I need time off or school deadlines… it’s okay to still not be working till the UK plan is set. I just don’t want fear to make me feel like I’m stuck in life because I’m not.
That same night my agent worked on the final document needed to conclude the visa application and it was go from there. You’ll think relief will come to me at this point, but nah… I realized something about myself, I always look for the next thing to worry about. *sigh
I have started working on this, starting with how I handled ignoring the alarm in my head concerning getting good dates for the biometric and medical appointments, while also finding a good reason to excuse myself from work to travel. The only way to calm myself was to not obsess about the next day but live each day as it came. I don’t think I have ever managed myself closely the way I did…the anxiety was real, but I held myself closely and took it one day at a time.
Fast-forward to three weeks later – this is the screenshot of the testimony I sent to the telegram group.
The visa came on Saturday, October 29th, and I dropped my resignation on October 31st. Freedom finally found me…
That Friday morning I was singing along to Whitney Houston’s The Preacher’s Wife album and one of the lyrics stayed with me – “He may not come when you want it, but He’ll be right there on time…”
If there is one thing I’m taking away from the entire process, is that no matter what life throws at me, I can always trust God to bring me to my expected end. I hope I always remember this going forward and use it as a tool to calm my mind.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11
I had made peace with working till December based on my then-projected visa decision timeline of ending November, with the thought that the money I’ll earn will go a long way in settling expenses needed for the trip. Seeing the visa, I couldn’t spend another day in a career I was done with. There was no need to change what God had finally done for me. Was money the issue? I had since trained myself to know God will always provide.
Funny thing is, when I saw the entitlements due me, it was five times more than I was expecting. The first thing that came to mind was, I never knew what it meant to be a Senior Banking Officer at the bank. My colleagues then used to hail me and call me a big man, but I was always quick to deflect. Thankfully this and the funds some of my diaspora friends as well as my folks supported me with helped me clear all travel expenses comfortably.
The first person I buzzed that the visa had come after informing my family was Aneshe. I chatted him – ‘God did not leave me stranded.’
The prior week, I was at his office and told him that even if I felt stranded at the end of December because this application didn’t work out, I was still going to resign. I told him I was already preparing my mind for a gap year. I had applied to schools in the UK so I could have options even though I truly didn’t want the UK. I did this because it would have been easier to explain to my folks. I mean how was I going to convince them I knew what I was doing leaving my job to go sit at home?
I also told him about how a lady in the group chat who attends his church talked about exercising faith and how she kept gingering us in the group. I told him how she already packed her bags before her visa got approved, and how another lady she encouraged even bought her flight ticket before she got her visa. I laughed saying I didn’t have that kind of faith…not knowing I had exercised mine by writing that pre-dated resignation letter.
November 14 was my effective date of resignation. I went around, saying hi to everyone, and hugging those I had grown fond of. I always thought I wouldn’t feel anything, that I’ll simply walk out of the office because of my short stint working there. To my surprise, I got flooded with emotions… I walked around taking everything in; the building, colleagues, customers… as I stepped into the mantrap door, I turned round to look at the banking hall one last time and took a deep breath before stepping out of the building into freedom…