I remember what I was as a teenager sooooo many years ago (he he). The golden age when I had no bills to pay and all I had to do to get rewards was excel in school. I remember being an opinionated teenager. I was always right and felt the need to speak my mind all the time. I was a non-stop bubble of energy that needed to be let out. I also had a very smart mouth and if you messed with me, I would have given you a seemingly polite but well-aimed blow to the heart that you would definitely have ruminated on at home. But thank God for Jesus! Somebody say Amen? Tenkyou.
I also remember that I was quick to judge adults as either cool or uncool. In fact, the funniest adults were those that tried to be cool but failed woefully with every effort they put in. Those are the adults who would say “So I just joined the Facebook.” My teenage self would have gone “Noooooo, you don’t join the Facebook, you join Facebook!”
When Funmi Okubanjo invited me to speak at the Edidot Schools Career Fair, I was half excited and half afraid. I wondered if this was karma for all the people my teenage self had judged as uncool. I wondered if I still had the magic touch to interact successfully with a younger audience (I must say that I’m still pretty good at that, thank you very much), and if I would successfully provide answers to the questions they had.
Look at me feeling like I knew it all. To my surprise, in as much as I was able to speak to the students about career choices, it turned out that the students were also schooling me in return! Not necessarily about making career choices, but about life and perspective. Let me share what I learnt.
1.You Can Make An Impression Before You Speak
This is tough to accept, but no matter what I feel about judging a book by its cover, the fact remains that people will continue to do it. You see, I had agonised about what to wear for days, considering my dwindling baffs supply (I think I need a stylist or personal shopper). So when I finally decided on a dog-tooth bodycon dress and light peach jacket, I felt I had found a cross between looking professional and hip. Apparently, the students approved of me and when I entered the room, the students actually went “woooooow.” I’m for real. I don’t know whether it’s because they expected some old boring lawyer in a black suit and I didn’t fit that stereotype, but whatever it was, they responded positively. This made me think about the many times I’ve gone out or gone to the office without paying too much attention to my outfit. Admittedly, no matter what, I’m sure I always look okay, but I’ve made a decision to slay as much as I can, not necessarily by breaking the bank, but by planning my outfits properly.
2.Never Underestimate Anyone
While I was talking about following one’s passion, a young boy asked what he could do with his passion for video games. Now this was very tricky, as I did not want to be quoted as the person who encouraged a teenager to quit school to develop video games (nothing wrong with that if done properly). Instead, what I did was to try to test his knowledge of the gaming industry. I asked a simple and even slightly off the mark question about whether he knew what a Rubik’s Cube was. He said he didn’t. However, another young boy answered my question and described what a Rubik’s Cube was. I tested him further and asked what the world record for solving one was, and he gave me an accurate or close to accurate answer. I was impressed because I actually didn’t expect him to give me that good an answer. Lesson two learnt. Don’t underestimate anyone despite their age.
3.People Of All Ages Want MORE
This one really got to me. The students asked such honest questions. “My parents want me to study law, but I just love to dance. Can I pursue more than one career at the same time?” These are teenagers that are hungry for more. I keep saying that there are many studies that need to be done on the minds of millennials and Generation Z. The world they met is so different from the world that was. Technology has made so many things possible, and we need to start giving them (by them I mean us) more options in relation to how to combine work with passion.
4.You Are NEVER Alone
There was a young lady that said all she wants to do is have companies and make money. She explained that she doesn’t have a passion for one particular thing. All she knows is that she wants to make money. I was like oshey! However, if you heard the way she said it, it was as if she felt she was saying something terrible, and it was a crime not to have a passion. I had to explain to her that making money IS a passion, and I further explained that there are serial entrepreneurs who will sell sugar, salt, cement, noodles, spaghetti, tomato paste (I’m not mentioning names), not because they care about nutrition or construction, but because they know how to make profit off people’s needs. She felt isolated in her thinking, but I made her see that she was not alone and she had valid aspirations. I learnt again that if we refuse to share, there will be no one to care.
Bonus Point- I’m Never Getting Old
I mean that. Like Peter Pan, I’m just going to stay young, at heart of course. It felt good to see that I was not much removed from the young and I could easily relate to them. Apparently, I’m not very far from my teenage self in exuberance, and I think it’s important to stay connected with the younger and possibly happier you because “Happy People = Happy World.
I completely loved spending my time with these young people, and constantly look for opportunities to discuss with and help others along their journeys, and celebrate the process of getting to our destinations. Don’t forget that applications are still open for the Global Nigerians Career Workshop, and you can find details on registration here.
What kind of teenager were you and what career advice do you wish you could give your teenage self?
Tenkyou- Tongue in cheek way of saying “thank you.”
Baffs- A Nigerian way of saying nice clothes.
Oshey- A Nigerian way of saying Niiiiiiiiiicccccceeeee!
P.S. Watch when the Rubik’s Cube world record was broken here