I have been to the Capital City, Abuja on two different occasions. My second visit was for my Call to Bar ceremony, and I had to stay with an in-law of mine, who is married with two lovely children. I had a tough time keeping Ezinne, the three years old child away from my room. She would run in and insist on ransacking and inspecting every belonging of mine. During one of such occasions, she stumbled on my wig and gown, and as soon as I informed her what they were for, she declared emphatically that she wanted to be a lawyer. Ebube, her elder sister, laughed and informed me that only some days ago, Ezinne had made a lot of noise about wanting to become a pilot. I had a good laugh at that revelation. But it was not only humour that was sparked up in me, as that incident took my thought down the long path of memory.
I did not always want to be a lawyer. In fact, there was a time when I was totally clueless and confused as little Ezinne. Being the best Biology student in Secondary school, my parents concluded that I would be a surgeon, and frowned when I eventually went to the Art class. My decision stemmed from my flair for the Art subjects, and more importantly, it was, for me, a chance of becoming an economist like my favourite sister, Ify.
At that time, I believed that if I followed my sister’s steps, I would then end up like the likes of Okonjo Iweala of the World Bank, Charles Soludo of the Central Bank, Ndi…of the stock exchange. And so my sister became my greatest model and mentor. Then, it was not so much about what I really wanted to be in future, but who I wanted to imitate and eventually become like. I was blinded by my desire to become like other folks that I never looked deep down. Time went by, I found myself in the Economics department, I later got wiser, discovered a brand new path which I should follow if I desired career fulfilment- the path that led to the legal profession
Switching was not an easy task as I had to re-sit the JAMB exam and aptitude test, while also dedicating adequate study time to my courses. I sought counsel from few persons before I finally decided, and of all the pieces of advice I got, the one offered by a certain Chioma, a final year student still stands out in my mind. She berated me for not considering my friends in the Economics department. Being the assistant course representative at that time, she reminded me that I owed my friends and fellow students the great duty to remain with them in the career journey we had already begun. According to her, my decision to switch courses was most incongruous with my obligation to the class. I was to stand by my friends, she maintained, and any contrary decision will be tantamount with disloyalty, and gross unfaithfulness to friendship.
There was a certain doctor who also stands prominent in my mind. I had a small medical challenge in school- one that I cannot remember now- and I visited the school clinic. When he inquired my discipline, I told him of my intention to switch discipline, and he immediately launched into a litany of warning. He considered my decision thoughtless, and warned me to re-think. According to him, entrance into the legal profession would usher me into a world of endless poverty. He made reference to several relatives of his who were lawyers with a long history of impecuniosity. ‘you may end up as a charge and bail lawyer, so you better stay in Economics’. These were his last words to me.
I really consider Economics an amazing course, which presents its graduate with wide prospects of employment. My decision was driven by a far deeper conviction, a nagging yearning, whose end I could not yet fathom. I was satisfied in the knowledge that I would derive eternal glee in the very act of following the path that I was rightly convinced was meant for me. I neither followed Chioma’s advice, nor that of the doctor, and so far, especially on the day I was called to the Nigeria Bar looking back in time, I have found endless contentment in the path I trod.
Experience, they say, is the best of teachers. So, from my career mistake, learned a lot of lessons. I am now convinced that each person must follow his/her own dreams, and strive to tread that unique way that is most suited for his/her destiny. I have also learned that role models and mentors are there to inspire us to be the best we can be. They are not persons to be followed sheepishly or blindly, for we all are made with our own unique abilities and destinies.
Again, I have learned that in life, there will always be dream killer, and discouragers. Focus and determination is the only solution to overcoming them. And for me, they were personified in Chioma, and the medical doctor. Chioma was wrong. I concede that there is nothing compared to faithful friendship. But any sort of friendship which becomes a barricade between a person and his/her dream, is at best, useless.
It’s almost seven years now, the wind of life has blown me and those erstwhile course mates of mine to different directions, and naturally, I have lost touch with most of them. The doctor was also grossly wrong. Fear is the seed of failure, and there is nothing as bitter than pessimism, and an abject lack of hope. His words were channelled to ignite fear in me, which if conceded to, will only distance me from my ambitions. Any man who prepares for poverty, will certainly find him at his doorpost. I did not set my eyes on poverty. Having only been called to the Nigerian Bar, and currently in the NYSC orientation camp, I currently have three letters of employment from very reputable law firms in Victoria Island/ Ikoyi, Lagos State. Surely, the doctor was very wrong.
Finally, and most importantly, the past incident has enhanced my appreciation of the concept of time. It remains true, the old saying that no time is ever too late. Upon the discovery of a mistaken path already taken, one must be quick enough to make the necessary amends, or forever, live in regret, and wishful thinking.
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