Are you afraid of relocation when it comes to your career? You see, when I was a little girl, fear was one instrument my parents unconsciously deployed to put me in check. Before you blame them, I admit I was quite a handful and restless and they must have been out of their wits on how to deal with me.
Then – in the early ’90s, bedtime stories were more like moonlight tales – I remember hearing stories about reincarnation (dead people seen alive in far locations); and there was this unconfirmed gist about my Mathematics teacher being one, as no one could understand the reason why a Ghanaian would come to Ilesha (Osun State) to work. My history with insomnia started around this time because the mere thoughts of nightmares made me an unwilling companion of our old chiming clock.
How and when I evolved from the fear of ghosts and walking trees, I can’t exactly put a timeline to it. But I did. From that time, I became aware of the feeling called fear and often times I have gotten to square up with it.
Fear like every other feeling means different things to different people. Apparently that is why the word ‘Phobia’ was formed.
My Big move…
Now to why I chose to write this piece. In 2018, I moved from Abuja to Lagos. I moved not singly but as a young mother of two who also was a mid-level career woman in Development. That year seemed like the year to finally put the whole family back together. We had had enough of being ‘commuter spouses’ and really felt that Lagos was the next place to call home.
As months drew near to the relocation, I was faced with one major reality – my decision would totally change the dynamics of my career and that scared me a lot. All the positives in relation to the relocation never for once dissuaded me from the fear that would pop up at intervals to taunt me particularly whenever I am on the social media platforms.
The truth was that I was afraid of picking up a career in a bustling city where almost every woman was making great strides either in a 9-5 job or business (it appeared so on Instagram). Not only were they great, they also slayed – Who can compete with that?
“How do I get a new job? Who do I talk to? How do I fit in? Where do I shop for food? What church do I go? Should I dump my low cut and invest in wigs? Do I talk to a recruiter? Do I tell my recruiter that I have two kids under 5 years? Who stays with my kids?”
The questions above were a few of the myriad of thoughts that permeated my everyday life as I prepared to relocate. For Pete’s sake, the last time I worked in Lagos was when ‘9ice Gongo Aso’ was trending and Blackberry BBM pins were a thing.
Getting a job in a new city; pulling children from familiar turfs; settling down in a traffic-infested town might sound very terrifying- in fact it was, but it has also been 15 months of tremendous growth and I write this to encourage women who like me are moving and wondering how they would ever get settled in (career-wise). These are the five conscious things I did during this period;
There is this saying, “To overcome fear, here’s all you have to do: realize the fear is there, and do the action you fear anyway”.
Coming to terms with my relocation and what it will inevitably mean made me put conscious effort in preparation. Firstly, I zeroed out every preconceived understanding of Lagos; I started to reach out to people- sharing my fears; telling them about my desire to get a job; asking them for advice on schools, commuting, shopping and of course the acceptable fashion tips. My two cents about fear- Don’t pray it away, rather face it and squash it.
Find Create your own tribe –
Relocating is not easy, but it can be lonelier for a young mother who also is trying to get settled into a career in a big city like Lagos. Forget about being a Super Mum and ask for help. One needs family, friends, mentors and cheerleaders for career advice, babysitting & fashion tips. I can’t help being so grateful to the awesome people who helped me find my feet; who listened to my frustrations, struggles and cries; who threw me a lifeline when I desperately needed it.
Getting a job that ticks all the boxes of expectation might not exactly be a walk in the park. I can confidently tell you that there will be stormy days. When all you want to do is to pack up and run back to the old life- I felt like that million times. My secret was to surrender to the overwhelming need to cry and then give myself the pep talk. Giving up was never an option for me.
Don’t be in a hurry to fit in. You don’t have to anyway. Let your individuality shine through. Take your time to observe the new city. Also observe the people- know who to let in and who you shouldn’t. The idea of relocation is not to forget totally where you left but to remain amenable to the new.
Written by Tolulope Babajide
Tolulope Babajide is an enthusiastic development professional with expertise in the cultivation of multisector partnerships and fundraising. With over nine years’ experience in nonprofit, journalism and advertising, she has an in-depth knowledge of cross-sector partnerships, contract negotiations, and channel account management.
She is currently the Partnerships and Engagement Executive at Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation where she spearheads the extensive partnership portfolio.
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