They lied to me
This series of articles is in a manner of speaking, my coming out ceremony. For a long time, I thought I am too young, too female, too naïve and too shy to be sharing my experience. Many factors contributed to this, sayings which in retrospect lack merit.
“You are the leader of tomorrow”
“A woman is seen and not heard”
“Behind every successful man, there is a woman”
It is a lie.
In Nigeria, according to the Nigeria Youth Policy, a youth is described as between age 18-35. Compare that with the commonwealth age bracket which pegs it 15-29 years of age. So we see that it automatically infantilises our young adults and there is a tendency for us to hold on longer to the aprons and support of our families. While this piece is not about delving into the debate of the effects of this bracket, I admit, it held me back for such a long time.
It has been a long process to rid myself of the shackles of the mind that has held me back. And between you and I, it is an on-going process. One of the triggers that that started this emancipation was while I was doing my masters in Nottingham University, England. Up until resumption, I was feeling like a cool kid that was achieving a great milestone. At 23, I was the youngest female in my undergraduate class in Nigeria, and as the graduating president, I had been able to produce a year book and donate a generating set to the department. To cap it off, I was one of the first in my set to start an MSc programme. I was on top of the world.
Then I met a young British lady, who was 22 and not only had she worked for a year, she was starting her PhD programme.
It knocked me off my feet.
As I settled down in the UK, I noticed that at 19, a lot of youths had moved out of their parents’ home and not only were they thriving, they were actually the ones driving and shaping the economy. That was the beginning of peeling away layers of unhelpful barriers which had held me back.
History also goes a long way in understanding factors that shaped my upbringing as a female, as a Nigerian, as a Christian, as an African.
It was quite surprising to me to learn that Obasanjo was 39 when he first ruled Nigeria, Murtala Mohammed was 37, Aguiyi Ironsi was 42; Federick Lugard was 32 when he served as a military administrator for Uganda and 42 when he started the protectorate process in Nigeria. Let that sink in…a 32 year old foreigner comes in and successfully convinces an entire foreign nation to yield to him.
History is rife with several examples of young people attaining great feats.
Reading “Lean in” by Sheryl Sandberg and listening to Ibukun Awosika speak is also helpful in shaping my thoughts. So, as I commence this writing series, I hope I can go past the superfluous and be brave enough to share my experience-a hybrid of physiotherapy, business and healthcare in this country called Nigeria.
It’s time for you to come out of hiding, you are great at what you do. Not too young, not too female, not to quiet, not too anything.
Let’s go there!
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