Back in the University, in the days when work meant having extra money to buy second-hand shoes from Yaba, I would scour through the streets of Lagos, attending audition after audition for ushering jobs. Work, then, meant being agile and wearing a plastic smile and hoping that the client would take one look at my face and decide I was the appropriate host for their event.
Then I graduated with a law degree and a vague sense of what was to come. So, work became what was available – first, NYSC as a Legal Officer in a small finance house, then a brief stint as an Executive Assistant, after which I put on the entrepreneurial hat and set up a Social Enterprise.
Work, again, seemed like a rehearsal of failures, each one building up to the next until I resigned myself into a non-profit organization where I did some incredible things, but pretty much mostly performed tasks assigned to me.
Somewhere in the background of my fragmented career path, I stumbled into writing. There I was, at a point in my life, feverishly in love with a man, and lost in the confusion of what to do about it, so I began to write. Or maybe more appropriately would be that I felt the urge to write. So, it began. Words on paper, tiny incoherent scribbles. Except my friends wanted to read them. And then words on the screen, which became words on a blog, on social media, which became words that trigged people to invite me to speak at events. And then words that brought clients, actual human beings who wanted me to say their thoughts for them, to take their ideas, dress it up and put it to paper. It felt like madness.
Sometimes you choose your work. Other times it chooses you. I know this for sure after I watched an artisan install a shelf for me – slowly whistling as he drilled nails into wood, his gentle nods affirming his craft. His immersion in the process, in the output, felt like art. Such beauty to watch. This man may not be the wealthiest or smartest, but I have never been more grateful for a person who ‘knew’ his work.
It is workers day, and there are many things to celebrate: a job, a professional community, opportunities that stretch and inspire you. Or maybe for you, it is aspirations – gaps in the pipe of your dreams you look forward to meeting, your spreadsheet of goals to tick off. Celebrate these. But also celebrate the things that give you energy, the areas where people compliment you. That love you have to experiment with recipes, that eye for colours or events, that knack to drill through a problem and come up with a solution, that understanding of hard issues. Celebrate your passions, dreams, skills and hobbies. Celebrate the work that also chooses you.