“A Week in the Life“ is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
After failing to get a job with his pharmacy degree, Nicholas* switched to content writing. Now on a ₦135k monthly salary, he’s tired of doing the same things every day to put food on the table. What’s an ideal future for him? To get crypto writing gigs that’ll make him a millionaire.
Every day, I wake up between 6 and 7 a.m. to do the same things: devotion, and meditation, and then I resume work at 9 a.m. I work remotely, so I only have my bath after my team’s standup meeting around 10 a.m. Then I ask my assistant to run me through my to-do list, which typically doesn’t have much to excite me.
I’m the head of communications at a company that creates courses for professional development to help people get into crypto. My job is straightforward: I manage all public relations going out of the company, including content writing and design. And even though the marketing team handles social media, all their content still has to go through me to ensure they match our brand tone and voice.
After work, I close my laptop and either pick up a book or watch TV and sleep. The next day, I do the same things all over again.
In 2015, I graduated with a pharmacy degree, did my internship in 2017 and served the following year. But when I tried to get into the job market, I realised, omo, e be like this thing no too pure. From hospitals to institutions in Ebonyi and Abuja, where did I not apply to? My dad even sent my CVs up and down. After a few months, I told myself, “It’s like I will use what I have to get what I want o.”
I used to write stories before I graduated, so I decided to try content writing in early 2019. I worked for someone in the United Kingdom for six months. It was hell. The man was supposed to pay me ₦80k, but I was doing everything in the company: manager work o, designer work o, even personal assistant. But he had the nerve to still delay my chicken change salary every month.
Before my birthday in June, I begged this man to pay me my money on time. He said, “Okay, I’ll look into it.” Oya now, birthday came and passed, and man did me “Aired DFKM” on top money I worked hard for. He paid me for June in July, and delayed my August and September salaries. By October, I couldn’t take these delays anymore, so I quit.
I was out of a job until the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, doing odd freelance jobs and collecting small small money. Then the CEO of my current company reached out to me to join his startup. I’d edited his pitch deck for free a while back, so when he reached out to me, it was to offer me the job.
I started in the company as a content writer, and after 10 months, I got promoted to head of communications. My job is pretty monotonous these days, but I prefer it to when I worked as a pharmacy intern.
As I take my bath after morning stand-up today, I think how different my current life isfrom when I was practising pharmacy. Before, I’d have to be at work attending to patients from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. It was stressful as fuck, and I always returned home drained. Now, my schedule is flexible; I work from home, lead a team and delegate tasks.
When I get back to my work table, I dive into monotonous work for the next six hours: planning webinars, editing course content and looking for ways to improve the company’s processes for external communications — same old, same old.
Omo, they’re dragging my boss today. The thing about startups is we make mistakes and learn as we go. In an ideal setting, the marketing team should involve me in their projects at the planning stage, But omo, these guys just created briefs, wrote up documents, got them approved by management and brought them to me to edit at the 11th hour. I was like, WTF? But management pressured me to just do it like that and keep it moving.
There was a backlash when the information went public, just as I’d warned. And as things heated up on the TL, I advised everyone to not respond to anything until we figured out damage control. But the CEO entered the dragging, and things got messy on Twitter, Facebook and in our Whatsapp community groups. I was so pissed because we could’ve handled the situation better, but this man no dey hear word. Omo, they ratioed his life so much I had to involve the company lawyer.
It’s been a long day, and I just want to go to bed. But I check the time. It’s still 3 p.m. Why does time crawl when you’re not having fun?
I just mute my Twitter app and continue working on the document I’ve been drafting for the past week. It contains the plan to help smoothen the flow of information across teams to prevent stuff like this from happening in future.
After all the drama of yesterday, when I woke up this morning, my body kind of refused to get the memo that work continues, but sapa is always a good motivator.
During today’s standup meeting, I ran through my plan for improving communications, and it hit me that I don’t have regrets about switching from pharmacy to content and PR sha. I sabi work; it’s just I’m not where I want to be.
These days, my life is a blur. There’s no passion. When I wake up in the morning, there’s no ginger, nothing to look forward to. I’m tired of writing just to put food on the table and pay bills. Between 2017 and 2019, I used to write stories to submit to journals and magazines, and there was always something to look forward to. I miss the thrill of getting acceptance letters and the heartbreak of rejections, for example.
Now, I’m just tired of the monotony of corporate daily life. I’m doing the same things every day and not earning enough.
My company currently pays me ₦135k net, and I get an extra ₦100 – ₦120k from freelance work. I want to earn millions, so I don’t have to take on so much work in my spare time to make up for my salary. I need to have time to create content I love.
I can’t wait for the weekend sha. I took this gig recently, writing about crypto stuff for a guy who pays me ₦8 per word. For him to be able to pay me that much, he probably earns close to a million naira monthly. He’s a middleman who gets contracts and outsources them to me, but I found someone who gets gigs from a direct source and has promised to link me up as long as I can build my portfolio and show workings. I plan to do just that, so help me God.
*Subject’s name has been changed to protect his identity