Aunty Bella is our agony aunt column on BellaNaija. We launched this column in the early days of BN and periodically feature issues sent in by BN readers. We hope the BN family can offer insightful advice as well.
Dear Aunty Bella,
Happy Easter! I hope you get the chance to kick back and enjoy the season. I would love some advice on an issue that has been a headache for some time. I recently graduated from university abroad and after a very frustrating process found a short-term position in a little know but surprisingly large and established engineering company. The pay isn’t all that and it’ s not exactly in the field that I studied for but as someone who has minimal professional experience, I decided to take the position. Its been a few months now, and I have surprisingly enjoyed the experience. The company is incredibly laid back (no suits, no high-heels, if it’s a slow day, we might decide to leave early), I am learning more about a new growing industry, my bosses are sweethearts and I get to see the whole process behind the big projects undertaken for big-named clients. I have been given the option of a permanent better-paying position after my contract is up and even if I don’t take the offer, I’ve built a small group of contacts who have promised to keep mind for other positions over here.
My one concern though is my parents. I have technically not lived in Nigeria since 2007. Though i have moved around a lot, I have since settled down in my current city and feel incredibly comfortable here. Yes, I miss Lagos sometimes but honestly, I am more used to here. My health has gotten incredibly better since I have gotten here plus it’s not a hectic place to live. As someone who has struggled with high anxiety for a long time, this place has done me a world of good. However, since I have graduated, my parents have been hinting on me getting more education and moving back home, citing more opportunities. They feel there is no need to stay here and that once I am able to make myself more marketable , I should be able to find a job that allows me to live more comfortably here.
There’s also the husband issue. I am 23 and they have already started hinting heavily that I move back here and find a suitable one, as opposed to the oyinbo I am currently dating. Maybe I would have agreed a few years ago, but right now, I can’t imagine. I just don’t think I am suited to Lagos. I am a bit of an introvert and honestly, my idea of relaxing isn’t big parties or some shin-dig, it’s going to a library with a beautiful view, a walk in the park or exploring a new area/ culture in town. I like chill environments and do not need nor want un-necessary stress, like haggling with my mum for two hours about what I can wear to the grocery store because “this is lagos’, and ‘you cannot dress anyhow’.. . Even career wise, I know that a foreign degree is no longer a guaranteed avenue to a great job.
There’s also the issue of moving in with my parents; as much as I love them, I CANNOT imagine living with them again. I have thought of moving in with a family member or friends, who would not mind, but my parent would make big deal out of it and make everyone feel uncomfortable.
My childhood was a bit of a nightmare, on the outside we looked like a happy, successful, god-fearing household, all for show. My brother and I cannot look back at our childhood and early teenage years without getting depressed. We were pretty much emotionally and physically battered for the smallest thing (for example, getting slapped when I had my first asthma attack because I couldn’t get up and make breakfast), or just neglected (my mum would carry designer bags while I used tissue paper for pads). Also my parents fight almost constantly, I am tired of being the referee and the peace-maker in the house. I was so depressed when I lived there that almost every week i had a breakdown in school, my anxiety was crazy high and my self-esteem was so low that I hardly have any friends from the schools I went to while I lived in Naija. Even now when I visit, there are times when I wake up screaming and shaking up because of nightmares and stress (only happens when I go home, has never happened here). Since I left home, my relationship with my parents has improved slightly but honestly, even the sound of their voice makes me tense up. Even during my job search, my father would call me and scream at me for being selfish and only thinking about myself for taking too long to find a position.
As much as I am grateful to them for everything, I just can’t move back yet. I just want to figure out a way to tell them it’s not going to happen. I have told a few family members to help me talk to them but it always results in a screaming match where they end up cursing me for telling other people family secrets after which they try to cut out the person from our lives, which I don’t understand as their families are a) Christian, b) Have always treated my brother and I like their children c) They still conduct business with them. I would like to tell a pastor, but they are both senior pastors in the church, so I don’t even know how to bring it up.
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