As the world celebrates Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to go down memory lane to remember some things I’m thankful for.
I’d like to thank Ayobami from primary school, a young boy whose life was cut short by illness but whose brief time at our school showed me that you don’t let anyone bully you—ever. You fought back in more ways than one, Ayo.
I’d like to thank the high school friends who, amid adolescent status-seeking and a premature understanding of the world, abruptly decided that the smart foreign kid in their midst didn’t align with their brand anymore. You were all single-handedly responsible for my drive to finish high school early, and varsity, and graduate school. I think I’ve put enough distance between us now.
While we’re here, I’d like to thank that pesky ‘C’ in Computer Studies for blemishing my high school report card. It inspired me to study Computer Science at the undergraduate level, then Informatics at PhD level. I even taught it to other kids so they’d never have to feel like failures because they didn’t know what a pivot table was.
I’d like to thank the bosses that let me go two weeks into my first job in comms because I made a few typos in an email one time. You inspired me to start my own company that day, and I now get to add “Copywriter,” “Photographer,” and “Social Media Manager” to my resumé. These three skills alone bought me the car I’ll drive to the gym after I finish writing this.
I’d like to thank the colleague who told me that if you’re not happy at a place, just leave. It sounded like such simple advice at the time, but I’ve kept those two words in my mind ever since. You left a few weeks after that conversation. I followed shortly afterward.
I’d like to thank the Cape Town interviewer who, within the first 60 seconds of our call, asked me why I was even applying for a local job with the kind of CV I have. Well, sir, I took your advice, and I’ve now had more interviews in the past month than I’ve had in my entire life—almost all of them with remote-friendly companies around the world. I don’t know how to tell people that there are more opportunities out there than they can ever apply for in a lifetime. They don’t seem to believe me.
There’s more, of course. The girl who taught me patience and understanding over a three-year relationship—and that you can love a child who’s not yours. The younger brothers who inspire me to be the best I can be—if only to show them what’s possible. The parents who, in their own way, showed me that if there’s a hundred percent of anything to be had, aim for it all.
The people I’ve met who’ve shown me that privilege is a thing, and that we haven’t all had the same advantages in life. The friends I’ve made who taught me that while independence is an attractive trait to have, companionship is sweeter. The colleagues and clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with and delivering great work for.
Every “no” has surprised me with the “yes” that followed afterward. It’s almost as if there’s a voice laughing behind the scenes when I despair at the things that don’t work out.
“There’s better coming,” it says. Words I now live by.
In my last post, I talked about obsolescence and how you can get ahead in the job market by upskilling yourself. Read it:
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Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on content and marketing for creators and brands. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.