Navigating the next phases in life
A friend of mine recently revealed to me that she quit her job, and I was tempted to ask her this question; What’s Next? You see, I just finished serving my country about two weeks ago through the NYSC program. When I moved back home last year, I dreaded this process. In Nigeria, you can’t work, if you don't have an NYSC certificate. Before I started serving, when people asked me; so what's next? I always replied—NYSC. That was the most straightforward response to give because that was the obvious next step.
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Then the one year I spent, serving Nigeria flew by so quickly, that I am now being asked continuously this dreaded question—What’s Next? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it, it’s like with each passing conversation, I am always plagued with this question. And it can begin to put unnecessary pressure on a person. It is okay not to know what is going to happen next, for a period of time. It is okay to take time and figure out what you want to do in the next stage of your life. Don't give in to societal pressure; focus on your personal journey to the destination that was carefully mapped out for you.
For me, I already know what I want to do; I already know what my purpose here on earth is. But I may not be comfortable enough, sharing it with the entire world yet. Sometimes when you share your hopes and dreams with people, it gets dashed. People say things like—yes that's great, but isn't that a hobby? Or after all the money that was spent on your education, that is what you want to do? They might be well-meaning people, with no intentions to bring down your morale, but if you pay attention to them, it might drive you down the wrong path.
I think the right questions to ask a person, when you see them at a crossroads, should be; what are you passionate about? What are your dreams? What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to be remembered here on earth for? Then depending on the answers they give, you can help stir them in the right direction. Most people, especially in Africa, want their children to work for prominent companies. They want them to have all the relevant titles, and there is nothing wrong with that. But that is their own dream, and vision for another person’s life. What should be taken more seriously is how you see yourself, where you see yourself, and how you can improve yourself to become that person you want to be.
Not everyone was created to be an Engineer, doctor, lawyer, lecturer, pastor and so on. We are all very diverse and unique. We were all designed for different purposes.
Rather than put more pressure on a person, who already feels pressured, even if you don’t know it; help stir them in the right direction. And if you are older and more experienced, share your journey with them on how you got to where you are, and why you chose the field you are in, and the challenges you faced as well. That will be a better and liberating conversation to have, than just asking the mere question—What’s Next?
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