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.
The subject of today’s What She Said is a 24-year-old woman who talks about studying pharmacy to please her parents, getting withdrawn from school after failing a semester, and finally studying what she wanted.
Let’s talk about your childhood
Growing up, I was a very shy child. I wanted to be noticed and to also stand out, so I decided I would be either a journalist or a military woman. However, as I grew older, that changed.
When I was 12, I fell in love with agricultural science when I was taught in school. Seeing green leaves and plants made me feel excited, so I told my mother I wanted to study that.
What did she say?
She actually didn’t say anything. What she did was to tell my dad. There’s nothing you tell my mum that she won’t relay back to him.
One day, while my dad and I were out, he brought it up. He didn’t tell me directly to study medicine instead, but it was there.
When I was 13, my brother wrote JAMB. My dad wanted him to fill medicine as his course of study, but he refused. I remember seeing the hurt in my dad’s eyes. In that moment, I made up my mind that I’d study medicine and please him. My plan was to farm as a hobby once I made money.
So, you studied medicine?
I actually didn’t, but I didn’t study agricultural sciences either. I applied for a medicine related course – pharmacy instead. I felt I couldn’t do medicine because I wasn’t exceptionally smart. Plus, since it was a medicine-related professional course, I’d still work in the hospital.
How did your dad take it?
Initially, he was annoyed when he found out that I didn’t choose to study medicine, but I explained to him that although I had a high chance of getting a good jamb score, it might not be good enough to get me medicine because of how competitive the course is. It’s funny because I was actually right. All the people that got around the same score I got were given either veterinary medicine, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology or microbiology.
How did studying pharmacy go?
It started off sort of well. I had one carryover in my first semester and I doubt I ever recovered from it. I got the carryover because they had changed the test format. I thought the test was objective, and so I read for that, only for them to make the test subjective. I cried so much when I saw the result because that was the first ever major failure I had gotten in my life.
I was determined to bounce back in my second year, but it was hard because I couldn’t take some courses until I passed my carryover. From my very first year studying pharmacy, I knew I was going to have an extra year.
Omo, that’s tough.
It gets worse. In my third year, I carried over almost all the courses I took. There was no definite reason why. It was rather, a combination of a lot of things. I was sad, tired, and exhausted. I had a lot of clashing classes because of the courses I was still taking from my lower class. Studying got even harder to do. There were back to back tests and I was extremely anxious because I was scared of failing again. It was a really difficult year for me.
I’m so sorry. Did your dad know?
He didn’t. I was too ashamed to call home. I wanted to fight all on my own, so I decided to repeat the entire session so I could retake all the courses I failed. To my surprise, I failed again. This time, it was because I fell sick during exams. My test results were good, but the exams were awful. It destroyed my CGPA, and I was placed on probation by the school.
Honestly, I should have applied for a deferral. It’s just that the thought didn’t cross my mind until one of my lecturers saw me repeating a class. When I told him I fell sick, he mentioned the deferral, but it was already too late. I was on probation.
It was after being put on probation I decided to tell my dad what was going on. We spoke extensively, and I still convinced him I could do it. So, I pushed on to year five, with courses from year three and four still on my neck and a probation.
I managed to pass, but my overall CGPA was not enough to get me out of probation. I was constantly praying for death. I’d rather die than see myself disappoint my father.
Having pcos didn’t make it easier for me. The increased anxiety and depression PCOS brings made everything even harder.
I’m so sorry. PCOS too?
The first time I had my period was when I was 11, and it was absolutely painful. Since then, it comes about once or twice a year. Nobody enjoys seeing their period, so I wasn’t bothered because I felt I was God’s favourite.
In 2017, I went to see my gynaecologist to complain about my lack of a period. After some tests and ultrasounds, I was diagnosed with PCOS. However, I only decided to get treatment for it in 2018 because the people around me were worried by the fact that I hardly ever saw my period. When I went to the hospital, the doctor told me that I didn’t need to worry about it and should come back when I want to have a baby.
Do you intend on going back?
Not really. The fact that I don’t see my period regularly doesn’t bother me. I even prefer it this way. What does bother me is the other side effects like anxiety, depression, weight gain, acne and a host of others. Even the infertility aspect doesn’t bother me as much. I’m a muslim woman, and if my husband marries more than one wife, I could help take care of my stepchildren. Also, I’m very open to the idea of adoption.
When was the last time you saw your period?
In March, after my gynaecologist placed me on some medication. I bled for 20 days consecutively and decided I didn’t want to do that anymore, so I stopped taking the medication. I can’t be dealing with school and never ending bleeding.
Yes, about school. What now?
Well, because my CGPA wasn’t enough to get me out of probation, I was withdrawn from the faculty of pharmacy in my final year. Then, I reapplied for a change of course to the agriculture department.
How is that going?
They haven’t approved my application yet, so my parents are still trying to convince me to study pharmacy again, but I don’t think I can. If my application is denied, I’d rewrite JAMB next year and apply for agriculture.
Do you think all of this could have been avoided if you just studied Agriculture from the beginning?
Honestly? Yes, I do. Agriculture is a four year course. It doesn’t have a schedule as tight as pharmacy, and I genuinely enjoy it. They also wouldn’t have asked me to withdraw from the faculty because I have a CGPA that’s less than a 2.4.
Does that make you resent your parents?
No, it doesn’t. Why will I resent them because I failed? I wouldn’t have if I had passed and gotten good grades.
What’s next for you now?
Trying to get my life together again. I don’t sleep as often at night anymore because I keep thinking of how I can no longer be dependent on my parents. I also worry about failing agricultural sciences. What then will I do with my life? It’s only book I know; I’m not a business person. I just need everything to work out for me.
I hope everything works out well for you.
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