Stuck in the wrong career

By Rogers Balamaga:

It is generally believed that the magic for success lies in doing what you love. While the contention against this theory has mostly been 'what if the relished dream can't pay the bills?' I've personally been asking myself a different question lately; what if one fails to identify that one thing they want to do for the rest of their lives?

I lost the closest thing to a dream I'd ever had back in 2004 when I had to select the subjects I would take at my A' Level. Having been chucked into the arts class, the director of studies, with a straight face, looked at my wretched mom and swore that her son was never going to be moved to the sciences class. Up until then, I was convinced—contrary to the grades—that I was more of a Physics, Chemistry and Biology kind of person; a fantasy that could possibly have been drummed into my head from an impressionable age.

Even with all distinctions in the Arts and a wash of credits in sciences, my dream was to become a doctor, and like anyone who suckled the same breasts as I did, the rule was you either did sciences or you risked a lifetime of destitution. But because the teachers prioritized academic excellence over parents' arts-phobia, my mom was remorselessly advised to either accept the arts combination I'd been given, or consider finding another school for her little Einstein.

Because of the friends I had in my school and the attachment I had to the scripture union, I would never consider changing schools, not even for an inviting science combination; but then the moment I lost my dream of becoming a doctor, my life went on auto pilot.

I happened to hit the epitome of my 6 year Christian life trek that same year. Being that I'd been relieved of sciences freed me to dedicate more time towards ministry and spiritual growth. I also accumulated three positions on different chapel committees, but the most transforming of my responsibilities was the commitment I had with the warfare ministry.  This was a private group of prayer warriors who—in preparation for an eminent revival—charged themselves with the duty of casting down strongholds and spiritual forces of evil around the community.

For 5 days a week, a night watchman had to go into warfare for a minimum of 90 straight minutes a night and would occasionally be called upon for a 24 hour dry fast if need arose. Ludicrous as it sounds now, I believed in what I did, so much so that for that time in my life, I was sure I'd realized the purpose for my living and true life calling; as a minister of God. My classmate, Noah—the leader of this battalion and a really smart guy—would later trade university education for ministry and has since published these two books. Had I maintained the pursuit, joining Noah was not such a long leap away. Unfortunately, that dream did not survive the faith inquisition surge that characterized my last few months of high school.

By the time I left high school the idea of becoming a lawyer had never crossed my mind, but because I couldn't think of a more alluring course for an arts student, I casually embraced the idea of staking 5 years of my life pursuing a profession for which I honestly didn't feel a glint of interest but for its prospect of wealth. I was lucky to finish the degree and the grueling Bar course successfully, but if there's anything the last 10 months I've worked have revealed to me, it's the fact that I'll walk away from this profession as soon as I can afford to.

I look around office and everyone seems to be happy with what they do. But at my desk, I sit pensively wondering why I'm the only one who feels like they're trapped 200 feet down in a coal mine shaft. I hate my job, right from the smothering dress code to the pretentious archaic jargon. But the one thing I hate more than my life snuffing job is the fact that I still haven't figured out exactly what I want to do.

For the past 8 months, since I discovered this new hobby, writing has been my sanctum, the crack through which I slip away from this tacky legal plane for a momentary nirvana. On many occasions, I've flirted with the elating idea that perhaps this is it, the answer to my life long quest. But how can I be sure? I've only done this for a couple of months.

As exciting as it all feels right now, I have bills to pay. Though this lackluster job helps me meet them, I ache for every minute of my time that I dedicate to its insatiable demands. I barely have time left to taste any other waters.

Just the other day I stumbled onto 'You've got to find what you love,' a speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University back in 2005. This guy was speaking to me; he said

“You’ve got to find what you love…Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

That's where I pause and ask myself, how much longer do I have to look? How will I even identify what I'm looking for having run through a list of infatuations already? Perhaps I need to give my job a little more time and work harder at my attitude towards it. But how much harder do I have to try if the last 9 months of trying have only yielded this much misery?

Founder and Editor in Chief of the Readers Cafe Africa

Comments (13)

  • Ayeza

    Rogers...I think I feel you only that by the end of the first year I was too depressed, and so by the end of the second year, I was happy to not renew my contract :) The challenges though of pursuing your passion are great...greater perhaps than settling...but i reckon there is more reward... :)

    • Balamaga Rogers

      Right now I just want to learn as much as I can and get out as soon as I find options. Fairly well paying options I must add.

      • Kembabazi

        There's more of us out there. We hear you :-)

  • lindsey

    You've already taken one step you know by acknowledging your true desires.

  • Kizito "Kizzy" Katawonga

    man, your words speak exactly of my life. How I struggle each day doing something I'm apparently so skilled at yet hating it each day. And now with not only bills to pay but a wife and kids, finding and pursuing what I love seems like chasing windmills in a don quixote story. I can't afford it or can I? The misery is overwhelming. I pray you don't suffer any longer.

  • betty

    All the best in pursuing your purpose!

  • Arthur Andrew Kumbuka

    As you quoted yo friend Noah, you forgot a one James O. (not Onen) and another Jame (yes you guessed right, Nganda)You know where the winds finally blew them. That is how life is. Interesting kabisa.

    • Balamaga Rogers

      Apparently a degree is not everything in life. Going by their accomplishments so far, Noah must be living a quite fulfilling life; and so is Jim. Knowing what it is exactly they want in life, they wasted no time but went straight for it.

  • Sarah N Nsiime

    I think the challenge for many is not that you cannot find what you love to do. You probably already know at heart what you are passionate about. The problem seems to be that what you love to do may not enable you earn a decent living. In which case you commit to doing that thing which brings in the money (but which you dislike); And your passion is left to fantasy because it does not seem realistic (in money terms). I felt that way for along time until I decided to commit to do both. I do what I can do to earn my daily bread and I find time to do what I am passionate about. Let me see where this will take me, God being my help.

  • Lillian A. A

    I think you've got the writing, so that should be a close comfort. And there must be something that you love about your job ... cherish it, polish it, love that one thing till you can afford to get out

  • Benon

    Very many newsrooms could do with your writing. They don't pay as much as lawyering does but if writing offers some kind of temporary escape route for now, you could pursue it and see if that's where you want to go. Nation Media Group takes writers to horne their skills for a year in Nairobi and then give you an opportunity to write for one of their products. Or, if you are willing to bite the bullet and start from scratch, we can talk.

    • Andrew

      Benon not all writers should end up in newsrooms or newsmedia...there are lots of others places where creative writing can be put to use...yes they dont pay as much as law firms or even newpapers but are a great way to horn your skills...

      • Zakaria

        I agree with you Andrew. For a creative writer, a newsroom could even be more depressing than a law firm. I have been there and I know what it means.

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