When I left school about a decade and a half ago, I had no idea what to do with my life. I was a certified petroleum engineer and the normal thing to do was to go get a job. But even if that was what I wanted, the chances of getting a job in my field were quite limited. Before that I’ve had a lifetime of confusion about what I wanted to be when I grow up. I just knew I wanted to defeat poverty. I wanted to not be controlled by rat race for money. I wanted to be in control of my life and finances. And I wanted to achieve that at a young age.
Growing up as a kid, the adults around me called me doctor because I was good with academics and often came home with above average results. My favorite subject had always been mathematics. I was good with logic and numbers. My second best subject was chemistry. Back then I turned the cupboard in our sitting room into a laboratory where I stored all my chemical experiments. I remember when I got the whole house smelling of chlorine from one of my experiments on electrolysis. I was just a curious lad who wanted to do stuffs.
I remember when I returned with my senior school certificate result. When he saw my result, my uncle who was a professor at a university in the United States, promised he was going to support my university education in the US. I was excited and hopeful. But that was all I got from that. I didn’t have information about scholarships at the time; at least I could have taken advantage of them.
My first university entrance exam, I selected medicine and surgery as my first choice in accordance to the prophecy upon my life; then pharmacy as second choice. But I soon made an interesting observation. During my first year in secondary school, I accompanied a friend to visit his cousin who was studying medicine at the university. By the time we were leaving secondary school, this medical student was still in school. At that point I realized that the medical field conflicts with my dream of becoming young and rich before I turn 27. So I ruled out the idea of studying medicine and surgery.
By my next uni-exam, I had to select a new course to study. Being a science student, engineering was the go to option. And petroleum engineering seemed like the option that agreed with my dream of young money.
Well, five years later, I was certified a petroleum engineer. But nothing about it excited me anymore. I wanted a more adventurous life on my own terms; not a predictable stable job. My thought was that if I got a job, I would work for a few years, save some money and start my own business. But I had better start preparing myself like there was no job for me.
This line of thought let me to start venturing into different businesses. I joined a movie production company, made a couple of movies with them and moved to selling movies at trade fairs. Then I started selling jewelries and accessories to corporate workers.
One day, while discussing with some corps member during my national youth service, everyone talked about their plan once we got out. I turned out to be the only one without a plan. It became apparent that I was on an unusual path. My response was that I was ready to throw myself into the world and take whatever it throws back at me.
Well, once I got out, I dedicated the bulk of my time researching about opportunities on the internet; from business to scholarship opportunities. It was then I discovered the world of scholarships that I missed because of lack of access to information. Interestingly, while this information was scattered across different websites on the web, and there were a number of general scholarship websites, there was no regularly updated platform on scholarships for Africans. So I started a blog on career development and opportunities for Africans. That was the blog that later become After School Africa.
Well, when no oil company job was forthcoming, and my online activity was not yielding any financial returns, I joined an Architect who just left his job with an engineering company to start his construction company. You know what they say about engineers; we adapt real quick across the engineering fields. I worked at the construction site during the day and worked on my opportunity website at night from my Nokia phone.
The first check I received from my online business was €359. I bought a laptop with it and start learning to code. More opportunities began to open up from there. With persistent effort, I was able build a successful company, invested in other people’s business and co-founded other business out of this.
So what do you do when you don’t know what to do with your life?
I have the belief that opportunities are like the domino effect. Life lays out series of opportunities ahead of you. You just have to take that first step to trigger the domino effect. One opportunity leads to another; then to another. Gradually, the dots begin to connect. Then one day, you look back and wonder how you got here.
Growing up we were conditioned to believe that we have to have life figured out early. That is why kids are asked the question, ’what do you want to be when you grow up’. Rarely does any kid answer, ‘I don’t know’. Not because every kid truly know what they want to be; but because they are made to believe that they have to know. Even when they give vague responses like, ”I want to be happy’ or ‘I want to help people’ or ‘I want to be rich’, adults react as if the kids has no clue what they are saying.
The beauty of life is in its ability to be unpredictable. That suspense and intrigue is what makes life worthwhile. If you already know what you want to do with your life, that is totally fine. Run with it. But if you don’t know what you want to do with you life just yet, relax. And keep your eyes open for opportunities. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Start with what is within your reach.
The world is changing so fast. 15 years ago, no one would have said I want to be a software developer, a social media influencer or an app developer. No one would have said I want to be a drone pilot, or a Vlogger. So it’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do with your life just yet. Just take it one opportunity at a time. You don’t have to feed your anxious about the future. The future will come in ways you likely didn’t expect. And anxiety today won’t make it any better. Anxiety simply robs you of the time to make the most of the opportunities around you today.
Determine what success means to you
Don’t be fooled by the glamour people put up. Success is not about who is first to get a job after school. Or who gets the big salary. An unknown author defined success as “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” A success is the school teacher who is teaching because that’s what he or she wants to do. A success is the entrepreneur who starts his own company because that was his dream and that’s what he wanted to do. A success is the salesperson who wants to become the best salesperson in her company and sets forth on the pursuit of that goal.
A success is anyone who is realizing a worthy predetermined ideal, because that’s what he or she decided to do… deliberately. But, according to Earl Nightingale, only one out of 20 people do that! The rest are “failures.”
Even if you don’t know what you want to do, you should know what you don’t want to do. You should know how you don’t want your life to turn out. Now start doing whatever you can to make sure your life doesn’t turn out that way.
I really hope this video helps. If yes, kindly like and share it with someone. If you are yet to subscribe to After School TV, now is a good time to hit the subscribe button. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!