I have seen interesting titles of books all over the internet this year particularly on the online retail stores. These titles range from the most mundane, to the most intriguing and one that continually catches my fancy is; “How laziness saved my life”. Although I haven’t read the book, the title makes it seem quite interesting and I really look forward to reading. In the same vein, I have decided to name this particular edition of my memoir; “How Irin Gbere Gbere Saved my Career”
Irin gbere gbere is a Yoruba phase which often implies when someone wonders aimlessly or goes somewhere with no intention of achieving a particular purpose. Therefore, stating that irin gbere gbere saved my career means some background story has to be told of how I got to do what I am currently doing.
This is 2014, and as I write, I am currently an intern in a consulting firm in Lagos, Nigeria. This might not sound like a fantastic idea to you but for me it’s a big deal. It’s like making wishes to a shooting star and seeing it come true within a flash. Magical, it sounds, but I have learnt to make good wishes everytime regardless of the person offering the opportunity to do so, because you never can tell where the next Santa lurks. A conviction which has recently increased after watching the Westgate Airline Santa Surprise on Youtube a while back.
Anyway, back to my story of being an intern is nothing fantastic. The fact that I am achieving my dream of consulting is the amazing deal of the year for me. I believe in optimism, a good reason why my favourite BBM strapline of the year is: “Everything Good will Come”. As an undergraduate with a few months to round up at the University, I didn’t have a clue of what to do with my life but I was calm that things would sort itself. Many of my colleagues thought I had confidence in what I was going to use my Bachelor of Agriculture degree for, however deep down in me, I knew that was not the case, as I only hoped that things will turn out right and everything good comes my way.
This optimism I carried on, until one fateful day, just less than 2 months to my final exams, I had a conversation with someone that brought along the very good I had hoped to come, changing my story. I will refer to this day as the irin gbere gbere day. It was a Saturday and just like every other Saturday, my routine practice was to get a few catering contracts or train some students on how to bake cake since I had already started thinking of entrepreneurship as the plan B career path while the plan A remained consulting.
As usual. I got contracts on that Saturday and worked till late in the night. As the day wore out, I thought “the good girl already had a stressful day and so needed to sleep early” until I got a phone call that night. The phone call came in at around 11pm from someone I found hard to believe would have called at that ungodly hour. Did I actually write “ungodly”, I have forgotten I was in OAU at that time, the campus where there was no distinction between day and night. Ife people never slept, so you could do whatever you wanted to do at anytime of the day. If you wanted to buy “Boli and epa” or “suya” or “Risky Burger” you will find. Therefore, getting a call from Seyi for me to come out of my hostel (Moremi) to see him at the sport complex wasn’t something out of the ordinary. It was the “Ife thing”.
I am sure you are wondering who Seyi is. He is an alumnus of my faculty who came to school for a fellowship re-union meeting. While at school, he was 2 years ahead of me (he studied Agricultural Economics, while I studied Agricultural Extension, so we were in the same faculty) and was the editor of the faculty editorial board I joined in my first year at school. More or less, he was an acquaintance to me. We had no personal relationship except that he was a friend to a friend who introduced me to him for the purpose of making me a better creative writer at that time. After he served as the editor and the old editorial team was dissolved due to some students’ politics, we didn’t have any business together again. However, I accord so much respect to him, no wonder I greeted him “well” any time I saw him around campus. In my own terms, greeting someone well, meant sparing a few minutes to ask about them. It often entails greeting with a smile and asking them questions as if you always wanted to keep up with their lives. This practice takes at least 2 minutes, usually annoying to my friends any time we walked together and I saw an acquaintance. They normally could not understand why I couldn’t keep greetings as simple as saying Hello- Hi. I don’t know why either but I guess I enjoyed those few extra details I got about people’s life. An example of my usual “greeting well” to him used to include questions like “How is your work? What are you currently working on? How is your current class/level? and so on. For all these questions, I expected an answer that would me extra detail rather than stating the obvious.
He was my acquaintance, I didn’t know so much about him except our usual “greeting well” conversations. I didn’t know his room, where he lived or any personal details about him. Therefore this my senior colleague still qualified well as an acquaintance.
Back to the day of the irin gbere gbere; After Seyi called me, I felt that I was too tired to leave my hostel that night because of the stress from baking in the earlier hours of the day. I didn’t want to go and meet him even though it had been a while since I last saw him. Moreover, I didn’t know what gain such a meeting would bring me considering how much fatigue I felt. We didn’t have unfinished discussion which is very understandable because we were mere acquaintance. Still very reluctant to leave Moremi for Sport Complex, where he was, I asked myself: why should I leave my hostel, particularly at a time I was preparing to sleep just to go and see an alumnus’ face.
Anyway, thank God I honoured the invitation. It was the real irin gbere gbere because I ignored my fatigued bones begging for some rest just to go and see someone that I had not seen in a long time, not knowing what to expect from our meeting. For whatever reason I did that, that day, I guess I need to thank that ‘little angel’ that convinced me to take a step of faith and make the long tiring walk to the sports complex.
When I got there, I saw him looking fresh and he was in a hurry to keep up with me. This is because, he also left the alumni meeting he was attending before I came just for our little conversation. We exchanged greetings and he said he called me that night because he was leaving Ife early the next day, so we may not have another opportunity to talk until the next time he comes visiting, which perhaps would be after my graduation. I more than anything else, also appreciate that ‘little angel’ that compelled him to call me that night.
The meeting was brief and life- transforming. We didn’t even look around to find ourselves seats, since we were both in a hurry. I was in a hurry to return to the warm embrace of my bed while he also hoped to return to his meeting as quickly as possible.
After the initial keeping up pleasantries, he asked me my most dreaded question at that time of my life. He said “…so what is your plan after Ife?”. That was the heart of our conversation. In more simpler terms, he was asking me what I wanted to do after school since I was just a few months away from graduation. I answered him almost immediately that I wanted to go into “agric consulting.” I told him this with confidence because he wasn’t the first person asking me that particular question at that time. It was a question I always expected from people at that time and I had ready a pre-determined answer. I was clear about what I wanted; I wanted to do agricultural consulting but what I dreaded were other questions that I needed to answer about it. I didn’t have a clue of how? When? and where I was going to do the agricultural consulting. All I knew was I wanted to go into that field. My case was like that of Cinderella hoping that her fairy god mother would bring her shoes. All I believed was that things would naturally sort themselves during the course of time.
Honestly, things actually sorted themselves out in less than 5 months from that time. Seyi commended my idea of consulting generally and was prepared to help me achieve that dream with the help of God. He told me he worked at a management consulting firm in Lagos and recommended that I start my career in management consulting after which I would perhaps find other sectors more interesting before focusing on agric consulting. He also told me he would speak with his boss if I could be offered an internship posts in the firm. He said if offered, I could use that opportunity to gain work experience while I wait to be called for the compulsory youth service.
The meeting lasted not more than 15 minutes but it was enough time to have a life changing impact. Waking up in the morning of that day, I really did not in my wildest dreams think of my day ending up that way, but it sure did and I am eternally grateful for that outcome. Seyi kept to his words and he was more supportive than I expected. He spoke with his boss, I was asked to send my CV which I did. On the CV part, he edited my CV for me till the point that I wasn’t even sure I owned that CV. It was a “wash CV” and I am proud to own it. He didn’t stop there too but also prepared me for the interviews and other selection processes that followed…
I write today as an intern who has just been promoted breaking the record of internship in the firm. I write as a senior intern (a newly formed post for me). Other plans during the year failed, but this was the solid path I towed in the year. I was supposed to have been posted for my youth service last year, but I missed 2 corps batches thanks to my dear Oba Awon adinduro University.
To many, internship in Lagos seemed as if I pre-planned how my life would turn out to be, but trust me, I didn’t plan any bit of this, but I believe it is destiny coming to play. I was unruffled about missing those batches, even though I am eager to get it done and dusted, I am enjoying the way life is playing at the moment and definitely could not have asked for anything more.
I have decided to share this part of my memoir so that it serves as a lesson for anyone out there who might get saved by mere irin gbere gbere.
On a final note, I will say “nobody is too little to help” and no conversation is too irrelevant to turn one’s life around. Irin gbere gbere saved my career, you never can tell if it’s mere “Owambe on Saturdays” that will save your relationship”. #winks#