Closing out another semester trying to figure out if this is what I need to be doing with my life, where I need to be doing it, how I need to be doing it. In the the throes of my weekly existential crisis I remembered these tidbits of my career trajectory. I’ll tell y’all about how I painted piggy banks and growth charts for money some other time.
**Side Note: As I’m typing this I get a text message that my contract has been placed in my campus mailbox. Oh Universe, I see you got jokes.**
When I decided not to take a job at Virginia Tech, I questioned myself. To be “titled” at a brand name school with a real office, real salary, potential for advancement, and colleagues that seemed to think I farted rainbows throughout the interview—yes please. I turned down the position anyway because it didn’t feel right. Single black woman in the mountains vague and flimsy as that was—was an excuse the chairperson personally called to tell me she expected before I ever acknowledged it even to myself. A month later I got offered another position that wouldn’t require me to relocate. And even if it didn’t offer the potential for advancement, it offered the same salary (money the likes of which this then adjunct and nonprofit employee hadn’t seen before). About two years later, the shootings at Tech happened. The assassin would have likely been in my class—he was a creative writer and my gen ed course assignments, I had learned, would be thematic. My theme: creative writing.
When I decided not to move to northern Nigeria I was upset with myself but convinced I was doing the right thing. To finally live a dream I’d had of living abroad and at a brand name American school no less, making more money than I had ever made in my life (not that that was hard to do) it was a no brainer. I spent my entire summer planning. Yet by the time I had a plane ticket in hand, my competed visa application, and a personal check from the president to cover my vaccinations I walked away from the opportunity. I questioned the check; the contract whose addendum came only after I protested missing facts and then via email (email?!) when I complained word-of-mouth was insufficient. And there were the monkeys—could I deal with the monkeys?
I ended up completely unemployed for 2 years when I tried to renew my American contract too late after making my decision not to go to Africa. Lately, I’m reading like much of the world about Boko Haram, the Islamic extremists who believe Western education is an anathema to Islam;
in Hausa their name literally means, “Western education is a sin.” In northern Nigeria where I would’ve lived, they claim attacks on churches, public places like bus stations and markets, and schools. Most recently, they’ve kidnapped almost 300 school girls.
My entire career trajectory is a clumsy picture; hell, my life. All I can hope is that this is not the Universe’s way of punking me but rather, of protecting me.