Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.
The subject of today’s What She Said is a 22-year-old who wanted to be a lawyer but studied nursing because of her mother. She talks about being involved in her parent’s interests as a child, choosing sciences for her mother and the challenges of nursing school.
What’s your earliest memory of childhood?
It’s memories of my sister, cousins and I playing games in the evening. Those evening games that included clapping and dancing. We’d go to our neighbour’s and ask him to give us money. We didn’t need it; it was just fun.
Free money, nice. Did you have just one sister?
Yes. I am the last of three children. When people talk about last born privileges, I can’t relate. I did the work. Everyone did house chores and everything equally.
The only privilege I had was being able to eat my parent’s leftover food and follow my parents everywhere. But it wasn’t special treatment. I was the one who always asked and showed interest. If my siblings showed interest, they would have taken them.
What other things were you interested in?
Books. I started writing as a teenager and used to read everything and anything. I also used to write poems. My father even gave me a collection of 17 books of Shakespeare he got from his dad. Everyone at home knows the book is mine. He was surprised when I decided to take science classes. Especially since he thought I was going to study the Arts.
Why did you end up in science then?
My mum. She decided I was good for science classes when I was younger, and that’s how it has been since then.
Why didn’t you tell him it was because of her?
Because my mum was there when he asked and was giving that African mum look.
My dad wasn’t home and wasn’t working in town then. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I chose science class because of my mum. Then I found out I loved biology.
Was there a reason you did?
To be honest, the teachers. In secondary school, I had two biology teachers. They weren’t harsh like other teachers and were extremely lovely.
The second one was beautiful. She’s the first person to make me realise or become conscious of what it means to be beautiful. I also understood her lectures. She’d explain in detail.
So now that you were in science class, what did you want to do?
In secondary school? I was just moving along with everyone else. I was brilliant, so I knew I couldn’t fail. The only subject I didn’t do well in was further maths, and that’s because I didn’t like it enough to try. My parents didn’t bother me because I did well in other subjects.
When it was time for university, I picked pharmacy.
There’s this daughter of my mum’s friend that studied pharmacy. I loved the girl, so I wanted to study pharmacy.
I’m somehow glad I didn’t. Thinking about it now, everything I did back then was because someone wanted it or did it. The only thing that was me was reading books and writing.
So, what did you end up studying at the university?
Well, since there was no pharmacy in the school I wanted to go to, my mum said I should study nursing.
Did you like it?
I didn’t at first because I thought nursing was just about nurses being by the patient’s bedside and administering injections. I found out it’s more than that.
Nursing school was challenging, fun and filled with tears. Days of stressful clinical postings, writing professional exams, travelling for postings. There are a lot of fields in nursing.
What’s your favourite thing about nursing?
The respect accorded to you by people in other departments and outside of school.
As a nurse, do you have any advice for female patients?
Do not think any difference you notice in your body would just disappear or that it’s a part of growing up. Really get to know your body so that if you detect any changes, you can quickly seek medical attention.
Also, for women who are sexually active, you should have a pap smear every three years.
If you couldn’t be a nurse, what’d you think you’d be?
A lawyer. I toy with the idea of actually going to study law. I’m still young.