One thing I have observed over the past few years is that for most people, our twenties and thirties are the years we are likely to live out of a suitcase. Take this from someone who only recently packed away her suitcases.You know this song by Justin Timberlake – “Suit and Tie”? It has been ringing in my head for a while now. However, the catch is that whenever the tune plays in my head, I automatically remix it and sing “As long as I’ve got my suitcase and tie”. Yes suitcase. The same old carry to the airport- please don’t be more than 23 kilograms suitcase.
If you are Nigerian, I can chart your suitcase journey easily. It usually starts from when you enter university. In this circumstance though, I don’t quite count university as much of a suitcase phase because even though you might have to move between hostel A and hostel B or apartment A and apartment B, there is a central theme to your moving- you have to be around school.
Fast forward to post university on the typical Nigerian trajectory, by this time, most people would have hit their twenties, and will partake in the compulsory National Youth Service Corps. By all means, when you are flung from your safe enclave in Ibadan to Benue or Gombe state, this definitely qualifies as a suitcase phase. If you are a lawyer, you have to first go to law school and this usually involves travelling. The same applies if your profession requires some compulsory training in a particular place. If you then decide to “further your studies” as we say, (besides, who comes up with these statements?) a suitcase or more is definitely required. Also, if you are into internships and volunteering, you are obligated to do even more packing.
You might wonder why I’m so obsessed with the suitcase. You see, I remember visiting a friend who moved to a new city to look for work, and she complained to me that she had been living out of a suitcase for the past six months. I didn’t fully understand the extent to which not having a stable or at least the semblance of a stable life, could throw you off balance in every other aspect. Not having a safe place you can call your space, or not knowing for how long you will be in a particular place could stall every other plan you have in life.
I must confess that I think this post is also a rant about my own experiences of living out of suitcase. However, I am sure there is something for you to glean from this. To me, the suitcase symbolizes a transition. It therefore shouldn’t be surprising to see that during a traditional Nigerian wedding, the bride is usually given suitcases, to symbolize the fact that she is starting a different journey. It is however very easy to get lost in transition (see what I did there movie lovers) and not pay adequate attention to other things that matter, in this case, and within the context of our Justin Timberlake soundtrack, the tie.
The call today is for you to still constantly invest in yourself even when things seem crazy, or you are in between jobs or you travelling between nations. Investing could be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Just buy and read books, take an online course, attend a seminar, improve your hair making skills or improve your writing skills as I am doing now. I seem to be on a symbolism roll tonight, so come along shall we? The tie represents your professional life and your aspirations. This should not be interpreted in a narrow way. See your tie as a very special accessory whose waft and weft is made up of your greatest dreams, ambitions, desires and goals. In order to achieve these things, you need to invest, particularly invest in yourself. However, investing is hard to do when you are backpacking for the next adventure, or unpacking from the last one. There is usually no calm in these years, and you won’t want to wake up one morning only to discover that in the past few years of transitioning, you haven’t developed yourself or chased those central goals in your life. You may find out that you have been packing your bags on mini adventures or even necessary endeavors, but those journeys have not added to the all-important process of knotting your tie. So you look back and wonder where your NYSC year disappeared to, and you realize that you were so busy dealing with the operational hassles of life that you forgot to chase those dreams.
I hope this helps someone. I believe strongly in learning from the experiences of others. I would rather spend my time in bliss instead of stressing out in life to learn lessons I could have learnt from a blog. Lol.
So as you pack your suitcases now and in the next few years, remember that they go hand in hand- the suitcase and tie, and try to squeeze yourself as much as you can. Now the image in my head is of a traumatic journey when I had to empty my suitcase into plastic bags because it was too heavy. Sigh.
P.S I fully recognize that some of us are perpetual nomads and this is also completely valid.