Friday, November 14, 2014

Preparing for my Toastmasters Icebreaker challenge


Words are significant to me. They have always been, and I knew this as early as elementary school, when I had started to self-publish my writings. I liked to read and write, and I would sign up for extracurricular activities that allowed me do these, even though they somewhat hampered my participation in sports, outdoor activities and general interaction with people.

As I got older, I have come to discover that at different phases in my life, a single word could define the common thread holds the activities of that phase.

For example, in 2007, one defining word for me was “Balance.” I was seeking out mentors and started to spend a lot of time in pro-female circles, not necessarily “feminist”,  listening to women from all walks of life speak. From this, I began to understand that women were struggling. They desperately wanted to succeed in their careers and family lives but had to keep making trade-offs and sacrifices. I would attend events where women would speak about these challenges and seek/give counsel, secrets and advice from/to those who seemed to be on their way or getting it right. I wasn’t necessarily there yet but I knew for sure that it was a matter of time before I embarked on a quest to find balance.

In more recent times, one of those words would “Bridge.” Around a milestone birthday, I unwittingly made trips to cities where I was drawn to their monumental bridges. Before long, I created a checklist of other bridges to visit, But more significantly, I was looking to bridge gaps, both mental and geographic, in defining areas like education and career choices. I was also evaluating my progress by asking myself existential questions like, “Where am I?”, “Where do I want to be ultimately?”, “How do I get there?” Clearly, the underlying issue was trying to define my direction and understand how (to build a bridge to) get there.
Still in the same mental space and time, a recruiter asked me, “Are you Sales or you are Technical?” and my reply was along the lines of being a hybrid that bridges between business and technology.

And these days, the word is “Home.”
My last name originates from the Ibo tribe of Southwestern Nigeria, and it means Child of the City. Small wonder, I love and live to travel.
Three weeks ago, I was en route Los Angeles, making small talk with the stranger who sat next to me about this book he was reading called “Game of Thrones.”
During the conversation, he asked where I was from and even I marveled at the reply that I gave:
I was a Lagosian living and schooling in Georgia, interning in New York and attending a conference in California. He replied, “Boy! Are you miles away from home!” But I love it, and I have come to make peace with wanderlust.
As the year 2014 comes to a close, so does my internship. I am evaluating my goals and actions, and getting ready to leave New York. And then, I get an offer for a job in another city, and I realize it’s always going to be like this. I’m a child of the city, and anywhere is home.