If you don't burn your degree certificate in time you won't live

Obed Nyakundi
/By Obed Nyakundi

I was going to die of depression...

Darkness loomed larger than light in my little room. Obviously, I hadn't paid for my electricity bill. But, be it as it was, that wasn't a big deal. Come on, which comrade pays his KPLC bill in time? None that I know of. Not unless he wears a white thong and he walks around with a makeup-kit.

I had barely eaten in two days. My belly hurt; really bad. I felt weak and helpless. I had no money in my pocket. A few days before, I took a KCB-MPesa loan of 200 (I am ever afraid of taking huge loans that I can't repay). On this night, I used the remaining 30 bob, loan money, to pay as bus fare from town (where I'd attended a job interview) to my home. And even then, I still had to bargain because the standard transport cost was 50 bob.

I was the express image of being broke. Being an introvert, there was no one I could talk to easily. Yet I needed someone to talk to!

And it's as if when you're broke, everything hates you. In my case, my girlfriend, for instance, couldn't call me at that time. And when she gathered the courage to call, she accused me of ignoring her for another girlfriend. She hated me bluntly for not calling her. You see? That was my only crime. Not calling your girlfriend = having another girlfriend. Only that this other "girlfriend" was my broke wallet.

My neighbor's cat that used to visit me occasionally didn't want to come close to my room. I didn't chase it away, I think it just thought I had nothing to offer it after all. No fish, no omena, nothing to eat... why could it come? Why?

Even my own sleep couldn't come when I wanted to sleep. The only friend that came to me, and sang me some nice songs when I was broke was a mosquito. God bless that mosquito, even if it had come for my blood too. At least mosquitoes love broke people. A little pint of blood was its salary for the company. Maybe God created them for the task of consoling broke people...

My Upwork account had been permanently limited for three months then. I had tried applying for local jobs without much success. Occasionally, a friend could invite me to assist in his cyber and he'd give you some KES 150.00 (a hundred and fifty) for a day's work. As a writer, I could never take a $5 job that could demand more than an hour. Yet, here I was taking $1.5 for a day's job!

I felt like I was completely finished!

I had drafted and taken my CV and cover letters to at least 20 organizations. In some organizations, I was restricted to using emails. In some, I tried knocking doors. In some organizations, they could link me to some online tools. Tools that demanded that I spend time, money and internet bundles doing tests and filling 10 pages of BS only to be told that message that is so sweet in the beginning but ends with some "unfortunately..."

The blessed curse of social media...
Thanks to the heavens, my unliminet data bundles were still intact. So, I decided to get online and view a few memes as consolation. Getting online, the world looked different. Everyone else was having a jolly great time.

My friend John (my agemate by the way) had bought a new car. A few of my classmates were planning a road trip to Rwanda. Do you know how much that thing cost? I remember reading something like KES 18,430.00 per person. A few other lady friends just had their weddings and they were heading to their honeymoons. Some to France, Some to Comoros, one to Zanzibar, ...

...Aaand lastly, there was me! A broke grad. A debtor to KCB-MPESA, M-Shwari, Tala and a few other "generous donors." There seemed to be no future for me. Outwardly, while I'm with my friends, I could afford a smile, but when we part, reality hit me hardest. My smile faded and I felt weary.

I must admit that during such times, death seemed a bit attractive.

That Degree Certificate Was a Great Liability

I was a graduate of no small course but Computer Science. Mmmh. I am not bragging; I am a scientist! lol. During my glory days, I had earned up to $5K (while a student) writing or programming as a freelancer. But I must admit that I misused much of my earning then. And here I was, broke, rejected and fairly disappointed about my life.

Trying to secure a local job was as hard as finding a virgin harlot. Luckily, most of my village-mates and relatives knew that I was a graduate. They classed me together with people of my caliber like Albert Einstein. So, now they expected me to contribute "something small" to the community. They expected a role model. You know... "Be like Obed!" kinda thing. But there I was. A debt to the community.

And, thanks to that paper, I was a debtor to HELB too. Good grief!

So, I opted to burn my papers...
At that time, I decided to burn my papers. I decided to ignore all my certificates and calls to interview. I decided to call the four years an "accident of time". I opted to assume that I was never in anyone's university and that I was a school drop out.

It worked. I went straight into the Telcom shop in Mombasa, and told them that I wanted to become their salesperson. You know how sales jobs work; they are ever available. And I was hired immediately.

Now I had an excuse to walk around and talking to people who could relieve my depression. But it was much more than that.

I could now sell something. I could meet people. I could enjoy the joy of being seen as a life looser and being ignored or sneered. I started gaining confidence in talking to people about money.

I could now face CEOs as prospective customers rather than employers. Being one who makes friends easily, I now had friends from various clouds and classes. I was soon linked to Generations Kenya training. Here I learned much more than just selling. I learned how to be organized, how to make public talks, and how to make sales.

After GenerationsKe, I joined UAP-Old Mutual as a trainee FA. And I also gave me an opportunity to meet some of the people I feared to meet and sell them "air" (as we used to call it). Basically, Insurence companies sell you promises. There's no tangible product I used to sell, and I saw people who were willing to buy my promises!

Then the jobs I was chasing after started coming. Yes. And I actually now passed an interview. You remember the KNBS stuff? Some people said you needed to bribe to get the job, but I don't think that was true. I didn't bribe a cent. But among the few ICT supervisors that were chosen from Mombasa, I was. It is purported that over 700 of us had applied. 700+ equally qualified graduands. Why did they consider me? God's grace? skills? ...whatever.

Then came the offer from Makers Hub, then the other from YSK, ...name them. Even if they were temporal, they helped me a lot.

The point is that I got my first job when I didn't need it, because I had given up. When I had decided to live anyway. When I had decided to kiss any frog that came my way; I won. What if I hadn't decided to burn my papers? What if I still wanted to "advance my career in Computer Science"? What if I hadn't sold Telcom lines and was seen as a reject? Well, I could have probably been very arrogant and careless in my jobs.

Being Broke is Sometimes Golden.

You might read my post and expect me to tell you that I am now a multi-millionaire. But I ain't going to tell you that. Currently, I'm just a shopkeeper! I occasionally write. But I work in my shop. It's a work in progress, but it's better than having nothing.

So, get silly, and get busy...
Do you have a degree certificate in B.Com., B.Sc., BA or (whichever field)? Have you been unemployed for over 2 months, 1yr, 2 years...? Do you want to find a job? Well, be silly.

burn the degree certificate in your mind. Be silly. Look for any worthy job. In my case, I preferred marketing because it could teach me all the skills that freelance-writing or programming didn't teach me.

You can do it! There's no fixed path. just do something valuable, do anything, and do it wholeheartedly. Money shall come at its time.

Lastly, if you are stressed, delete you Facebook App and Whatsapp (especially statuses). Life will be easier when you know little at a time. Knowing too much information is not good for your mental health.


Disclaimer: Don't believe anything I'm going to tell you! You don't have to. You really don't have to. Except that you can help me to share it if you think it's something close to your own personal experience.
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