Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Unsolicited advice to young Nigerian women working 12 joyless hours

My friend and I have been lamenting on how much less of our lives we seem to own under the stress of demanding work hours. She wrote this today and for the first time we felt oddly comforted by our grief and laughed at our predicament. Here's her advice to the rest of you like us.

1) when you start to think you want a life away from the office. Count your bills, spread them on the table. Sigh a lot.

2) when you tell your father you want to be a writer and he lists the names of 9 starving writers, add your name as the 10th on the list. Recite this list before bed.

3) when your mother asks if you can feed a family on passion, eat only laughter for a week. Go back to her and reply you can’t.

4) when you come across an old classmate on Facebook living the life you want, don’t comment. Click like.

5) when the madam at the office asks how you plan to balance your long hours and a husband, tell her men know how to cook. Laugh with her when she laughs at your reply.

6) when the older man who makes crude jokes at work tells you how ungrateful you are, and how he waited 5 years for his first job, apologise. Thank him for his observation.

7) when you call your friend who still hasn’t found a job in 2 years, don’t ask about it. Don’t complain that you work too long. Talk to her about the weather, about your new tailor. Joke a lot.

8) when you boss tells you that the your generation is doomed, ask him why he stares at you when your back is turned (ask inaudibly). Fix your eyes on his family picture. Agree with him.

9) when your American friend tells you you’re wasting your life, that you should follow your dreams, don’t tell her she’s right, just reply “I understand. But this is Lagos”.

10) when you dread the weekdays, look forward to Friday, sit at a new bar and reinvent yourself. After 3 shots of vodka tell the bartender about your life on the island as a photographer. Tell the man sitting beside you after 6.

11) Spend Saturdays being your mother’s daughter. Cook 4 different soups. Picture a hungry husband at your table. This is the life you should crave. Never speak about suicide.

- Because I was asleep when the walls started caving in

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