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Aunty Bella: Miss. Professional Uncertainty




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.

Good day aunty Bella,

I was hoping I could get some real advice from your readers as it seems as if the people around me don’t understand my case.

I graduated from university with a 1st class in Accounting, everyone was happy for me. I was happy for me too.
The thing is, right from when I was young I was that child who said I wanted to be a farmer, then sailor, then lawyer, then dentist , then surgeon and the list goes on.
In secondary school I went to commercial class simply because most of intelligent people in my set at the time went to science class and I was like there is no way I am going there because I felt I wouldn’t shine there.

Then in commercial class everyone wanted to be an accountant. As in it was the ‘ghenghen’ profession . So I did JAMB and chose accounting . To be fair, accounting wasn’t so bad but I was really struggling at some point but somehow I passed. I have a fear for failing and also disappointing my parents and so I always push myself HARD .
I have written ICAN skill level and passed 2 papers in professional level, I have 3 papers left. I passed the skilled level at one sitting, everyone was hailing me ‘badass accountant’ ??? and I used to tell people ‘na God’ but they thought I was just being humble.

But right now, I CANNOT deal anymore. I am an expressive person. I want to work in an airline asking people ” do u want juice or coffee?” , I want to work in a customer service based role, I want to act in a TV series or a movie. Those are the things that interest me .

Now, nobody else understands. My parents are like I am in the final level of ICAN that I should just manage to be chartered. I am like how about a start a course in CRM or something related that actually interests me. Now my parents are just making me feel bad, that I have wasted my life so far, school fees and all.

Did I mention I currently work as an accountant but I am not passionate about my job at all and I want to quit but my job puts food on my table right now.
I need advice, what do I do?

Should I complete ICAN or just look for a job related to what I really want to do and go for it or what steps should I take now because I am officially confused.

On a side note, I really wish I was that child that knew what she wanted to be from the start and stuck by it, all this wouldn’t be happening now.

Thank you.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime


  1. Your case is my case

    March 16, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    This is soooo me. I even wrote it in a book…from doctor to teacher to nurse to engineer. I have been ‘soul searching’ since day 1…in fact, I still am and I graduate in May o. God ep us!! But I’ve just decided that I’ll take those career tests and pick a career that I envision myself in daily (keyword). Then pursue it and not let uncle, sister, teacher to change my mind….I think you should do that too. Goodluck to us!

  2. Hian

    March 16, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    Finish your ican I beg! I’m a bio Chem major and I know when I finish in this Yankee I would hook up with aunty toke or some big presenter and start a tv show! It’s going to be about sex like raw sex… But hey I’ll get my degree this August first! If my father like he should kill him self I don’t care lol and I’m getting my masters in public health! Do I like it we would find out next spring and

    • Oprah

      March 17, 2016 at 6:52 am

      Finishing a degree is different from finishing a professional services course. She already has a major.

      The problem with this logic when applied to her is that it never really stops….

      Get Chartered….after all, you are so close

      Work for a few years, so that your professional hustle doesn’t go to waste

      Rise to become a Manager, so that when you leave, you leave at a respectable level just in case you need to come back

      Wait….you are almost HOD, why don’t you stay…..are you really doing to start serving tea and coffee to your mates who are flying first class?

      It just never ends, and at some point, you need to take a stand.

    • jummai

      March 17, 2016 at 9:25 am

      What about what makes her happy…you see that the problem with the Nigerian mindset what if she serves coffee or juice to her mates in an air plane does that makes her less human…..what about happiness, self fulfilment,

  3. Me

    March 17, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Pray for Gods direction, don’t quit your job because what you are currently taking for granted some people would kill to have, volunteer on the weekends or evenings in this “customer service” type of jobs, go out more and make friends with people in the entertainment field and you could get a minor unpaid extra role in a film, tv show or even music video and see if you’d enjoy doing them. With experience and connections you could then quit your accounting job and take on jobs in whatever you finally feel you enjoy doing.

  4. Oyinlola

    March 17, 2016 at 12:09 am

    This is the story of of life. Studied for OND and HND in Nigeria, finished with upper credit in Petroleum Engineering, carried myself to the UK for BEng Mech Engr and just graduated with a first class but i’ve never imagined myself practising Engineering. Everyone was encouraging me to go start PhD but I’ve respected myself, no need spending extra 4years (after the 8 years spent getting a degree) to do research in engineering that I’m not in love with. Ive decided to do a masters to make my folks happy cos they’ll just kill me if they kno I’d rather be running a home, taking care of homeless children than being an engineer.

    Poster, please finish your ICAN to satisfy your parents and while you’re at it, make sure u discover what you really love doing, Something you’ll be able to do lovingly even if you’re not getting paid.
    Life is too short to be stuck in a job that’s making you unhappy
    I pray you get it right

    • Toks

      March 17, 2016 at 7:22 am

      I concur!!! Bagged a Masters in Electronics Engineering and now a Maths teacher which I love more than anything in this whole world.

  5. Amaka

    March 17, 2016 at 12:22 am

    You need to seek God’s face regarding your career and I know that may sound weird because a lot of people are looking for someone who has future foresight to tell them what they ought to do. Your maker made deposits in you for a purpose therefore He knows best. Many intelligent people have crashed, destiny junctures don’t always announce themselves. You can make a decision now which could skyrocket you or turn you into a snail. You have got to thread softly and let God speak to you

  6. The real Ibinabo

    March 17, 2016 at 12:34 am

    Please just hang on, you are almost there. Become chartered then you can go on to do something later. Nigeria is a country filled with so many uncertainties. I can’t guarantee that you will ‘blow’ immediately in that customer service profession you desire, so use accounting and ‘hold body’ for now. Like someone mentioned, you can spend your spare time gaining experience in customer service and this will give you an edge when you finally make up your mind. Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.

  7. Kay

    March 17, 2016 at 12:36 am

    This is like 70% me right now… Trying to figure out what career I love and I wont get bored of over time.. I get bored easily…

    I would say finish your ICAN since you’re half way through already and at the same time think of how you can get into the entertainment industry or whatever else interests you… Dont quit until you have something solid

    & maybe if you can pay for some of these other interests out of your own pocket, ur parents might not have much of an issue with them…

  8. Vic

    March 17, 2016 at 12:41 am

    Maybe u should finish ur ICAN and then follow ur dreams. Not everyone knows what they want to be from childhood. At first I seriously wanted to be a doctor; held that dream from childhood till my junior secondary. I noticed that I would never cope with the way my grades in the science subjects were, I changed my mind to engineering and after doing all science and arts, commercial courses in my ss1, I knew engineering wasn’t for me, even tho my mum had this crave for me to do science. I switched to commercial in my ss2..and I had no idea wat I wanted to be yet. I had to read about different course wen applying for jamb before I could come up with a course to study.
    Right now, I’m living my dreams while doing my own thing that I fell in love with. I struggled with biz for over a year, but u would always learn when doing something you are passionate about.
    So, follow your dreams dear, else you might end up regretting about your job till you retire. Follow your dreams and do exploits.

  9. Gorgeous

    March 17, 2016 at 12:54 am

    Congratulations, as a fellow accountant, I will advice you to finish your ICAN and then maybe get a PHD? Being a lecturer might actually be your calling. You are hardworking and intelligent. So passing off that knowledge while interacting with people daily could be where you are called. You are indecisive and restless right now because you are young. Make your money as an accountant and lecturer and see the world in your spare time. Soon enough you will mature enough and your personality will change to preferring something more stable and secure. As we grow older we are less of risk takers. When you grow older you will be grateful that you completed your ICAN. Trust me, it gets harder to get chatered as you age

  10. 20 year old girl who cares.

    March 17, 2016 at 1:13 am

    finish your degree and when you are done. do what really wanna do.
    You have your degree to fall back on.

    if you are serious about being a flight attendant apply to a good airline company like EMIRATES, I mention this because I like the airline. However they are cons to working for the company. Look that up your self from people who have worked there. YouTube is your friend. You get to live in an apartment in Dubai, you travel a lot (that may be good or bad) i think its contract based for three years or so..

    You may not be as paid as you will be in the accounting industry, but at least you will do something for you. If you do not like it you can always change.
    Anyway if that doesn’t work for you do something else. PLEASE sha finish your degree and continue working for now.. life is for the living so live it! 🙂

  11. FasholasLover

    March 17, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Heheheh. I cannot remember laughing so hard in a long while “do you want juice or coffee”? That was me at 14. I was having a conversation with my uncle and he asked the usual question, “what do you want to be in future”? My answer was “I want to be an air hostess”. My uncle said Taaaaa and shut me down. He said that was equivalent to being a maid. And that all manner of men would disrespect me. My young mind was so sad. All l wanted was to be an air hostess and wear the BA uniform. I eventually grew out of it and read engineering. That l love what l do now makes it easy. Otherwise, l would have found my way to the skies or a barrack/cantonment as l also wanted to be a soja.

    My take is do you and what makes you happy. Life is too short.

    • FasholasLover

      March 17, 2016 at 3:08 am

      Heheheh. I cannot remember laughing so hard in a long while “do you want juice or coffee”? That was me at 14. I was having a conversation with my uncle and he asked the usual question, “what do you want to be in future”? My answer was “I want to be an air hostess”. My uncle said Taaaaa and shut me down. He said that was equivalent to being a maid. And that all manner of men would disrespect me. My young mind was so sad. All l wanted was to be an air hostess and wear the BA uniform. I eventually grew out of it and read engineering. That l love what l do now makes it easy. Otherwise, l would have found my way to the skies or a barrack/cantonment as l also wanted to be a soja.

      My take is do you and what makes you happy. Life is too short.

      But, be sure to put that certification in the kitty first. Life after school is different from when you are responsible for yourself. Bills will have to be paid unlike when all you do is ask and your parents give. Who knows, you might change your mind. Whatever you do , make sure you are certified.

  12. samuel

    March 17, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Your problem is unique to most first class students including myself. Your problems started at university where i’m sure you spent 90 percent of your time studying day and night so as to get the top perfect grade. My advice to you is to finish your ICAN or whatever professional degree you are currently embarking on, then you can always diversity into whatever is of interest to you. Life is too short to be unhappy so do everything to live it in full happiness.

  13. The real D

    March 17, 2016 at 5:31 am

    I had a friend in college, who was in the honors program and wanted to drop out of school to be a missionary her mama no gree insisted she finish, she finished already had ministry ready to join, mama said nahhh go and get experience. At the time I thought make this Iya leave this geh already, I mean she must really want to do this if she has been on this missionary case since I met her my first year in college. But mama got her way, 2 years later, my friend joined the ministry. A year later she was done being a missionary, it was not what she expected atttt alllll. At that point Iya just look her pikin and said that’s why I insisted you finish school. Now she is doing film, she studied writing so good fit.

    My point is sometimes we feel we know what we want or believe we have an idea of how things are going to play out for us but we all know life happens and many times it might not always work out and it is always nice to have something to fall back on and I believe that’s what your parents are shooting for. Do what you have to do then go ahead and pursue your interest if things don’t work out you at least have accounting to fall back on.

    When my friend’s mum told her to go get a job, this girl wept for days and considered rebelling (she and her parents are oyinbo o and her college tuition was scholarship and student loans so no be say her parents paid her way) but she decided she did not want to start out by dishonoring her parents but I am sure she gave in to her mother’s wishes today.

  14. Tosin

    March 17, 2016 at 8:11 am

    1. i love you 🙂
    2. if you can stomach it, get a big-ass consulting job. i’d rather the mckinskoko route than kpmg. if you can do accounting you can probably stomach the structure. i couldn’t even pretend through their interviews to give enough of a shit tbh i almost started laughing.
    plus it’s normal to quit consulting so no crisis when you flee that one. and you may even not flee it may turn out to be your thing…not.
    if you wish more freedom to be a sailor, farmer, and tailor; try and save during the big-money job like maybe buy a hut/house or something. as for the finish ican or no finish ican, you alone can decide. i’m a dropout nothing wrong with it. i learn almost everyday what i’m going to be when i grow up – a painter (visual artist), a mathematician. it’s a valid way to be, though it does make ppl around you worry till they learn to stop worrying. if you don’t finish your ican there may be a lot of “when will you finish your ICAN” and prayers from family for you to finish ican, for the next ten twenty years 🙂 so you should totally finish ican for that reason.
    3. a friend once sent me you’re welcome it took me minutes to find it just now. enjoy your life, Hon.

  15. nwanyi na aga aga

    March 17, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Nne you want to work in Customer Relationship Management area, you are about to complete your ICAN and you do not know that working in a Bank is one heck of a Customer Service related role? Search no more, just apply to a Bank your 1st degree and certification is a good plus. Apply to any Bank in Naija maybe when you finish working as a Call agent, teller, CSO or Marketer. You will appreciate working behind your desk.. Loooool! Nne listen to your parents finish your ICAN, then you can seek for these jobs you dream of eg air hostess..Looool! Chai!. Dont just drop out. Finish up, then fly..It might be what you have always wanted, it might not be but at least when your expectations fail, you will have a fall back..When they don’t you can continue to soar..

  16. Dr. N

    March 17, 2016 at 9:06 am

    I have an idea for u
    Start a vlog or blog talking about your experiences, sharing tips on money management for teens, teaching students how to make good grades or whatever. It will give u d excitement your creative mind requires while u maintain your daily job.
    I tried it wt my blog Dr. N’s musings on wordpress. I ended up writing a book, meeting great people and imdulging my artistic side. Hubby could not believe his medico wife had this side to her

  17. Boom Baby

    March 17, 2016 at 9:33 am

    I get where you are at right now, but who says even when you move to a profession that you THINK you love, something else wont catch your eye and then you want to quit your tv presenter job too.. You need to do a lot of soul searching and waiting on God, your purpose and life’s assignment is only in GOD. Choose something and then stick with it. You are growing older by the day. Avoid being a Jack of all trades and Master of none eventually. I wish you God’s best.

  18. Asake

    March 17, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Congratulation, a number of people realize too late that they are in the wrong career or do not have passion for what they do.

    Most people “pretend” to enjoy what they do as long as it pays the bill. You shouldn’t wake up wondering what if I took that step – systematically take it

    My advise

    • Make your interest your hobby in the short term while making medium term plan – don’t wait too long
    • Finish your ICAN because 1. it will look like you quit accounting because of one exam, 2. Should the move not work out as expected – you have something to fall back on. ( example – The Real D’s friend)
    • Be ready to take a pay cut or a “level” drop or even be unemployed for a while.
    • Remember you didn’t just go to school to study accounting, you also went to learn about life skills that should ideally make you fit into any organization.

    You might also want to read a book – Yes, I am one of those people who dislike reading all those how to live your life aka self-help aka get rich book however I recommend your read

    What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential by Robert Steven Kaplan – You can get from Glendora or Laterna books

    All the very best

  19. Only Believe

    March 17, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I am also facing this right now. I’m currently doing a second masters in power engineering. To be honest, I feel like it’s not what I should be doing. I feel I want to work with children and all. So, I got a part time job teaching kids and to be honest, i can’t exactly think I can do that all my life!! I am still searching!!!
    So my advice:
    Finish your ICAN.I think the mistake we make is we think it’s just about the certificate, I may be wrong, but it’s the “process” that really counts. Finishing your professional course involves a lot of things and you are developing yourself in those areas. The skill set you’ve gained will be very useful in whatever you decide to do.
    While you are working as an accountant, I’ll say you do volunteer jobs as well as more soul searching. Take extra time in weighing your options. Pray. Try linking up with people who are doing what you’ll love to do and ask questions. You’ll be amazed at your findings.

    • Oyinlola

      March 17, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Please can I speak with you outside bellanaija? Cos we are kinda alike. I’m the one with the engineering degree comment up there

    • Only believe

      March 17, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Yes.. Sure ☺️.

    • Oyinlola

      March 17, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Email address is [email protected]
      I’m female by the way

  20. a woman

    March 17, 2016 at 10:25 am

    i love Oyinlola & Boom Baby’s advise.
    You should have an exit strategy planned out…like Oyinlola said, finish your ICAN to make your parents happy and also make up your mind on what exactly you want to do. u seem like ur eye go soon enter sth else now…lmao.

    dnt resign just yet please….planning is key.

  21. Hephie Brown

    March 17, 2016 at 10:40 am

    my dear, in this life purpose is the hardest thing to discover. My pastor in church makes us pray almost every sunday (and gives practical steps too) to finding purpose. Purpose is not only what you were called to do, it is what you do that you will excel at and also have a happy fulfilled life.

    Me, I wanted to be a stripper when i was young. no jokes here. I loved dancing and i I had a very flexible body,shakir was my road modes(HAD) but of know now, the naija mentality… I then realized I could sing like a nightingale. Notice the past tense once more. And of course, I can act(that talent does not go away thank God). That was not all o! I could write. I’ve written at least 6 unpublished story books/novels, one even in Yoruba. (I love my language) I cant find all of them again, and my secondary school principal stole the yoruba one. yes, stole. My parents did not however want to hear of all these. I have to read, finish school, pass welll, igabda kan awo.yada yada yada.

    I was also sort of a brainee..a lazy one, an effortless one. those annoying ones who won’t read too much(in public) and act like they never read, but they will still pass you the jackie hehehe.. I wanted to be lawyer, fight for the rights of people(i will still do the later). I studied Law in the uni for 2 sessions 1 semester before NUC came and scattered it all. Me that i’ve been managing my confusion jeje, they just made it worse. No money to start afresh, so I finished with International relations.. finished fourth in Uni(nothing to b proud of of course, it wasnt first class) i have no idea what to use the degree to do…

    But what I have learned, till you figure it out, do everything! every single thing. Jack of all trades, master of non. I couldnt be kaffy even though back then she was my role model. I joined all dance groups I could, i joined drama groups, I was in choirs(I made 1.2k from one gig like that,singing at an event). Now as an adult, I have my own blog so i still write (, I do short films for my office people on youtube for adverts, ecommerce company o(they always promise to pay but they never do..wetin man go do), I am in a choir, sort of, and I do karaoke as much as I want to, I’m the craziest dancer u will see in church when im in d mood, and I’m doing a masters in International Law and diplomacy. Oh, and I’m doing CIPM too. Oh and I have a business I run..and i have sweet mouth for marketing..i just kent cos naija marketing ehhnn..hmmmm

    One day, it will all come together as one, u will figure it out. Till then, don’t quit one for one..just do it much as you can. because you never can tell which talent of gift or hobby or … will make way for you and you will realize! KABOOM! This is where i’m meant to be!

    Try a job in a firm where you deal with the banking job. you’ll be alright


    • Vic

      March 18, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      Wow, I love ur comment. Can we be friends really??

    • Hephie Brown

      March 24, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Hahaha! Thanks Vic! Yes we can, Its Hephie Brown on FB….send me a message maybe?

  22. Eny

    March 17, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I got my first degree in Accounting by the age of 21 and for me, i was done. I did not mind accounting but also got the degree partly to satisfy my parents. I had many diverse interests…

    So what did i do? I took myself on a journey of self discovery for the first 5 years (21-26). It wasn’t too hard cos ive not really been a financially dependent person on my parents. I had fun, fulfilled my itch, gathered diverse experiences, opened myself up to oppourtunities… and while i was at it all, my current job found me and brought me back to something accounting related.

    I promised myself i would only write my professional exams if i found myself at a job that made me feel i should get it. So 5 years after school, i just went back to class and BAM! ACCA!!! Na God.

    Considering my work history, I cant believe ive been here for 4 years already!!! So at 29, its been a very lovely story to tell.

    My advise to you, finish your ICAN, always have enough money to meet your basic needs in whatever erratic decision youre making, if you have age on your side enjoy the ride! While you are at it, what you will love will find you.

  23. Koffie

    March 17, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Keep in mind that ICAN/ACCA both have a 10-year window for you to complete your exams, I’d say finish the ICAN. The end is in sight, you can’t afford to quit in an uncertain country like Nigeria. Say you pursue customer relations or marketing or advertising (you’ll find it exciting coming up with advertising campaigns) and then you realise that your passion for it is not as deep as you thought but then it’s too late to go back to ICAN cos the 10-year window has passed. So you’ll come to the ACCA line and blame yourself for not having done the damn papers when you had the time, brain and energy. Nne, finish ICAN and keep for one side. It’ll be your backup and you know how chartered accountants hold the yeye pali in high esteem, it will serve as a good backup cos you become some demigod when you mention it. Trust me, you don’t want to be married and studying with a toddler later in life.
    As for your confusion and short-termed interest in varying fields, I’ve been there. I wanted to be a banker as a child cos I liked seeing them in their suits and high heels, I later wanted to be a lawyer and this interest was very ‘deep-rooted’. My parents supported me even though my mum thought Accounting was better (she had seen too many peanut-earning law grads in Nigeria). I didn’t get the Law admission so I went to uni for Accounting (with no commercial background) to pass time till Law comes calling (lol, still waiting). I realised Accounting had a corporate law part to it and said ‘oh, that’s the part of law I love anyways’. Accounting in uni was a waste (Nigerian schools ALL have crappy Accounting syllabus). Then I said I wanted to be a Forensic Accountant (mix of legal jargons and accounting)… I chased that for about 3 years (internships, volunteering etc) as I wanted to get a practical feel of it before going to the ABroad to invest momma’s hard-earned money in MSc Forensic Accounting (kinda restricting so you have to be sure). I didn’t get the high-flying internships I chased so I moved to consulting and till today, I ask myself if I would have been better off as a Forensic Accountant. But Consulting is so exciting; kinda like being a polygamous man bedding different women everyday but without committing to any. I’ve been told by a few top fliers that I’m a natural. All the way from a passion for Law to Finance/Consulting.
    Confused friend, search deeper. Is there a branch of Accounting that meets your customer-facing criteria? It doesn’t have to be debit and credit accounting you know? The possibilities are endless; okay maybe not endless. Search for careers within Accounting on these college advisors website (US), there are at least about 40 careers within Accounting that I’m almost certain you’ll find something that could mix well with CRM like I found Forensic was basically (law and auditing). Don’t forget to pray hard; at the end of the day, only God knows what’s best for us. Remember to separate fantasies from reality (I once wanted to be a ‘corporate maid’ and then later, a princess)

  24. Tolu

    March 17, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Can any job truly makes me happy? Maybe traveling would do

  25. Afia Faith

    March 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Same here ooo! i am doing my master in Information Technology and will be graduated soon God’s willing but still i cannot decide in which area i wanna specialized! i am currently doing my internship with some IT company… Hope to fine what i want to do after my graduation as my career….

  26. BTV

    March 17, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    How do i send my own agony? super upset about something ATM.

  27. oony

    March 17, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Making a choice in my career path is really giving me stress.Presently doing my internship,studied Pharmacy as undergrad.Really finding it hard to choose a niche,guess am not alone.Plus u have ppl hu feel u shd tread a certain path.It’s really confusing?

  28. joey

    March 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    No need doing a job when u are not happy at it. Me i studied law, practised for some years and was not digging it.ihad to quit to run my own business. Its harder and broke most times.but am happily pushng it on.

    • Tosin

      March 19, 2016 at 8:47 am


  29. Toss

    March 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Most people often try varieties of things before finding their niche or core interest. That said, I can tell you from experience that you’re not likely to be fulfilled in a Customer Service role. You come across very ambitious, that’s brilliant. But Customer Service (CS) is beyond the glitters you see. It is dirty. It is frustrating. It’s least paid. It may consume you after a few years.

    But if you insist, hedge your risk first by completing your ICAN and with some experience to fall back on, if (or I should rather say ‘when’) the ship is down on the other side. I’m sure no experience is invaluable.

    Sometimes, roles are different in organisations. You can serve as an accountant in Org. A & feels horrible while in Org. B, it may make you feel awesome. Hence, try and ascertain your hatred for accounting profession carefully and once you’re sure it’s still not your calling, then leap forward to your dream. All the best.

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