Yesterday, I met two old friends. One is a lawyer and the other an engineer. We all graduated the same year. Luckily, they were immediately hired by reputable companies based in Nairobi. They wore fancy suits, had expensive phones and from Facebook images, they seemed to be doing very well. Naturally, I assumed they were swimming in money.
Three days ago, I was standing on the edge of a cliff next to a waterfall. Moments before a lady and two guys in the expedition group jumped off the cliff without the slightest hesitation. It was now my turn to make the jump. A crowd of more than 50 hikers was watching from the sides in anticipation. Uneasy, silence followed. Every single flash of the camera pushed my racing heart a notch higher.
Reality hits you really hard when you turn 25. You realize that you have lived for a freaking quarter century yet have nothing to show for it. Quarter-life crisis strikes. Younger siblings look up to you, parents expect you to take on more responsibilities, hell even kids start referring to you as yule mbaba, thanks to your bulging waistline.
It doesn’t matter what career path you choose to take, for you to stand out amongst thousands if not millions of other professionals with similar qualifications is by having an online platform where you can comment on various trends in your industry and showcase your portfolio. The easiest and most convenient way of creating an alluring brand is through blogging. Blogging not only positions you as an authority in your respective field but also helps you get more clients.
Many nights, I find myself standing right here on the balcony looking out at the city lights in the horizon as vehicles zoom past the highway close by. Men and women hurrying home at 3am. My heart is full of doubt and fear thus trying to sleep is a futile exercise. Instead, I came over to bask in the moonlight as the cold, silent Nairobi breeze blows gently over my bare skin while my head is plagued with heavy thoughts.
Most kids had their fathers teach them how to ride bicycles, play soccer or drive. As a child, my father taughtme how to buy, sell and manage my money before my teens. I have sold second-hand clothes, farm produce, veterinary supplies, and by my 18th birthday, I was overseeing a project with about 10 people working under me. That has got to be the hardest thing I have ever done.
I just turned twenty-five. I have been on earth for a freaking quarter century, can you believe that? It just feels like a few months ago I was the youngest in everything I did and suddenly I’m agemates with Prof. Dumbledore. Now, exactly 7 days to my birthday I was hit by a car while crossing a junction. As life flashed before my eyes two questions stuck in my head “What have you achieved with your life?” and “If you were to die today would you be happy with how you’ve lived your life?”
Its 3 am, your eyes are closed but your mind is working overdrive. Not even your nymphomaniac neighbor’s loud moaning can disrupt you train of thought. Earlier in the day, you received a call from a lady with a trace of British accent inviting you for a job interview the next day. For a moment you thought she was a con but when you checked your email and saw an invitation for the same, you felt happier than you have had in a long time.
A year after clearing campus, you haven’t landed a job. Your unemployment status has not been due to lack of initiative. You have applied for literally all jobs even those remotely related to what you pursued in college. Over hundred job applications sent yet only two firms invited you for an interview. The first job interview was a sham, from how the officials conducted themselves it was clear they had already picked their preferred candidates before the process began.
After publishing the Kenya’s Middle Class nightmare article I received lots of emails from people across the world telling me how they were in a similar situation. A good number asked me to write about how one can avoid living an average life. As a result, I went out to meet Tom Kirkwood at Africa Insight Ltd headquarters along State House road, Nairobi seeking to learn how one can pursue their passion and be successful. Following is what he had to say
Who is Tom kirkwood?
Tom is a person who for the longest time was a wannabe entrepreneur, stuck in a multinational where intrapreneurs were not encouraged to bring new ideas or new business possibilities to the company’s attention. A person who was too often recording life and not living it. That has all changed after quitting my well-paying job at Reuters and starting Africa Insight Ltd.
Three years ago , I withdrew all my savings and borrowed more to finance a business idea. The venture involved importing refurbished Tablet-PCs from U.S and reselling them across the country. Based on my projections I was bound to make obscene profits and quit college in a year to concentrate on the business.
Unfortunately this never happened. The costs involved in importing the first batch were very high, made worse by the fact that two days after receiving my shipment Safaricom rolled out their batch of Tablet-PCs which were cheaper and superior. I didn’t manage to sell even a single gadget. My entrepreneurial aspirations were bashed. I lost all my money and had to toil hard to pay off the debts.