This is simply the story of how pressure drove me to almost become a quack doctor. I was that child that loved to read. Recently, my aunt told me the story of how, while I was much younger, some guy was utterly convinced and repeated it on every possible occasion that I was going to be a professor. Why? Because I often used words ‘too big for my age’ and my tenses were mostly correct.
Anyway, being ‘too smart’ meant people already decided my future career. While this uncle (am I being mean for picturing him in a dark tan, but slightly over-sized suit and black pointed shoes?) chose professorship for me, many more others concluded I had to be medical doctor of-course. I, however, recall a few people saying I’ll be a lawyer because I was always talking. If only they saw what I did now – very very very little talk.
Anyway, so here I am, done with the compulsory subjects in Junior Secondary School, and deciding what path to take in Senior School. In Nigeria, you typically navigate towards the Sciences, Arts or Commercial class – the first being reserved for the ‘smarter’ kids and the last two for the ‘average’ kids.
Literally, everyone thought I’ll be wasting my ‘brains’ as an Art student studying Government and Christian Religious Studies (CRS). The pressure was real, so I succumbed. And I picked the sciences: Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I stood my ground on my love for Literature though. So I picked this over Geography – one of the few Science students to do so. This decision ended up being such a huge lifesaver.
Biology was cool – I mean we can all relate with the digestive and reproductive system (and the endless giggles during the teachings on the latter topic made the classes less boring). So maybe I could do this doctor thing after all. Surely I’ll get over my fear of blood at some point, won’t I?
Physics: My friends had to use a spoon to practically make me understand the difference between convex and concave mirror. They – Tonia and Shalewa, must have been surprised at the many times I bombarded them with some rather simple questions. You see, these girls understood Physics and Chemistry on a whim. I sorta understood it, but I couldn’t relate. How was the Periodic Table and Law of Thermodynamics adding value to my life?
I got straight As but it was boring to me.
Then, the last term of the first year of senior school (SS1) I got an F in Chemistry.
I was furious.
Imagine looking at your report sheet – ‘A’s all the way down and then an F. To make matters worse that F wasn’t my result. I had in actual fact got an A. But an F had been mistakenly put on my report sheet because the student whose name followed mine on the register had an F. It was a simple mistake.
But I stormed into the teacher’s office and fumed. He apologised and noted that it’ll be rectified when the new session began. I refused to consider the fact that he probably had less than two weeks to mark and record over 200 scripts. He may have been tired, or perhaps in an argument with his wife, when he recorded the wrong mark for me.
And then I dropped the bombshell. “I’m dropping Chemistry, Sir”. “How can you? You are one of our best students”.
But I refused to budge. That was it. My mind made up.
I returned to school over the holidays to purchase my textbooks for the Art courses. The Guidance Counsellor scheduled a session with me to ask if I was going to cope. “I’ll be fine Ma. I’ll catch up on what has been taught in the past year”.
I resumed the new academic year – SS2 and signed up for Government and CRS classes in place of Chemistry and Physics. I was going to be an Art student. Yes. Even with all the brains.
So that’s how I almost became a quack doctor. I may have pushed through high school, cramming and still getting As, get into Uni and eventually study medicine. Still cramming. Maybe even take the Hippocratic Oath, without having any real passion for it.
And perhaps, just perhaps… this lack of passion would have made me comparable to a quack doctor.
I’m thankful for that singular mistake. I’m thankful for that F in Chemistry. I did not bother to have the report sheet corrected, and I still have it that way to this day.
Please, say no to societal pressure in whatever form. Know what you want, and push through with it. Don’t force your kids to get the career that YOU want.
Do you have any similar stories? What kind of societal pressures have you had to deal with?
PS: Imagine if growing up, I told all these ‘career prophets’ that all I wanted to do was be a blogger? Hahaha.
*Quack in this post is used to mean someone who lacks passion. I do not intend it to mean a pretender. I would never condone pretending to be a Medical Doctor.
Folake AdeniyiApril 11, 2016 at 14:36
And you’re one of the most brilliant lawyers i have the pleasure of knowing. This was me. My Dad even refused to attend the compulsory meeting with the Guidance Counsellor because God forbid any child of his became a lawyer. His daughter had medical doctor inscribed on her forehead. So I was forced to stay in social science class. Anything but Art class. I did Chemistry in Ss1 and I hated it. My chemistry note was filled with stencil drawings because that was the only way I could endure the class. I dropped it half way through SS2 when my Chemistry teacher asked me in class one day “Adeniyi, who forced you to be here? It’s obvious you hate it”. I am glad I didn’t succumb to the pressure to do Physics instead of Government. Although I still regret I wasn’t able to do History. I wasted that time in Chemistry class.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comApril 12, 2016 at 09:21
You flatter me Adefola!!! My parents were not exactly the issue in my case. Ok, actually, my dad wanted me to do something more lucrative than law. It’s just a crazy mentality to be honest. Thankful we didn’t waste too many years…
Goodie YaroApril 11, 2016 at 15:01
you lierally picked my new post from my mind. LOL! please be sure to read it would post later on. love this, try and circulate to parents with kids in secondary school. they may listen.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comApril 11, 2016 at 15:43
Really? Great minds then!I’ll def read your view when you post it. I don’t know where I’ll see the parents oh. Please feel free to share on social media or forward as applicable. Lol. Xx
Goodie YaroApril 11, 2016 at 15:04
btw. i just shared the link with a young high school intern working here at Templars. i was sure to emphasise “words from a first class graduate of law”. lol
Kachee || KacheeTee.comApril 11, 2016 at 15:44
Hahahahaha. Thank you so much for sharing. Xx
Paula Olaitan BenedictApril 11, 2016 at 15:36
I have had two societal pressures…First… I have had a love for numbers right from primary school but ended up in the commercial class in secondary school. Nonetheless I maximised the number of courses I had to take in school that involved calculations… so instead of literature I choose geography and instead of CRS I chose Further maths (yes… further maths) everyone thought I was crazy to even register to write further maths in the WAEC exams (we had the option to write 8 or 9 subjects for the exams but I chose to write 9 with further maths being the 9th subject)… thankful for taking the bold (crazy) step of writing further maths in the WAEC (this wasnt normal for a commercial student)… It ended up being the reason I gained an admission into University of Lagos to study Actuarial Science and finished top of my class and department.Second… 2 years after a messy 6 years relationship breakup… I had moved on and was completely focused on career enhancement and writing my professional exams and silently looking out to start a new relationship even though everyone thought I had given up on relationships completely…. and then I was introduced to a young lad based in the states by a friend. Right from the first few conversations I wasn’t positive about the referral and made that very clear but the opposite was the case for the guy. He had made up his mind and was happy with the referral… I communicated this in a subtle way to him and the common friend and somehow the issue got to my parents and everyone started to accuse me of holding on to my previous relationship and being impatient with the new lad… it got so bad I even started to doubt myself, then I gave in to the pressures… traveled to the states to spend some time with him just so I please everyone but myself. It was a complete disaster, we had fights n arguments everyday though it wasn’t violent but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted. I noticed that everyone that wanted me in the relationship thought the best thing that would happen to me was to marry the guy and relocate to the states and I will be happy… they equated my happiness to getting married to someone in the states and relocating … The guy proposed during my stay in the states but then I decided to be true to myself and ignore all pressures… my happiness was the most important here. So I turned down the proposal, came back to Nigeria and ended the relationship. It was a shock as I broke the news immediately I got home from the airport… the guy probably still hates me but I’m happy about my decision and have no regrets at all. I would probably end up being miserable if I had given in and married him and over time he would have to give up trying to make me happy and then end up in a messy marriage….Everytime I think about these two experiences… I’m always so thankful for the decisions I made and the courage to make those decisions.
Folake AdeniyiApril 12, 2016 at 09:31
I admire you a lot. Thanks for sharing. Not everyone is bold or wise enough to shut out voices and make decisions for their own benefit.
Paula Olaitan BenedictApril 12, 2016 at 09:39
Thank you Folake…. It was a big struggle and I imagine alot of people going through same struggle one way or the other… it takes grace my dear.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comApril 12, 2016 at 10:12
I took my time to read this.Further Maths! I did this in SS1 and surprisingly loved it. I liked Mahs, but I think by SS2, it got too tough for me. Lol. You already know I think you are such a GEE. Studying Actuarial Science and being excellent at it.Marriage pressure has to be amongst the worst. I honestly do not get it. It would have been so easy for you to succumb to this pressure and get married, believing that it will get better with time. I’m so proud of you for sticking to yourself and doing what made you happy! Xx
Paula Olaitan BenedictApril 12, 2016 at 17:06
Thanks girl… you know you inspire me … xoxo
NengiApril 12, 2016 at 06:40
You conveniently left out the part where you came first that term, beating all the art students who had been taking classes for a year already!!
Kachee || KacheeTee.comApril 12, 2016 at 09:23
Hahahahahahaha. I’m not sure it was such a vital detail. Lol!!
pagesbyikeApril 12, 2016 at 12:47
Unfortunately the society rewards people who succumb to its pressures. We should just give society a blank stare and do our own thing…… in God’s time. Nice post, Almost-Quack-Doctor.lol :*
Kachee || KacheeTee.comApril 15, 2016 at 14:44
I thought I replied this comment… Hmmm. Thanks love! Xx
KIKELOMO OMOTALADEApril 26, 2016 at 11:19
Well I succumbed but I think I am doing fine with it for now as I aspire to do something entirely different in the nearest future.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comApril 26, 2016 at 11:54
Awww. The future is now babes. Start already! xx
ToyinNovember 15, 2016 at 15:40
I started out telling everyone I wanted to be a judge, then I said a lawyer, then a mass communicator, I was one of the best and looked like the sciences was calling and the love for Medicine came up. I eventually had my first degree in Human Anatomy but I’m back for my second degree in Medicine. In 4th year now. Now I’m caught between global health, family medicine or surgery, though Surgery is my first choice, still yet to full decide though.Let me add that I looovvvvveeee Medicine, can’t figure what I’ll be doing if I wasn’t studying Medicine. Though people still say I’m a talkative and argue a lot lol
Kachee || KacheeTee.comNovember 15, 2016 at 18:53
Hahahaha! So glad that you LOVEEEE medicine! Totally nothing like doing something you didn’t enjoy. I could never be a doctor. Lol! I’m sure your love for talking will still come in handy.
Nifesimi LaniyanMarch 2, 2018 at 09:32
Hahaha,I had a combination of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Government, History, Literature and even scheduled extra classes for Geography because it clashed with Government.Because I overhead one “uncle” telling my mum that I need to stop saying that I wanted to become an actress. I still want to be an actress and I am going to pursue it. This is the year.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comMarch 2, 2018 at 09:34
Whooop! I think you should go for it absolutely if that’s what you want! 💪🏾