NEDDY Tanga is a young Zimbabwean career coach and motivational speaker. An engineer by training, Neddy shares a part of her life’s story that should help youths make informed career choices. READ ON…
HOW did you end up in the career that you are in today? Given an opportunity to change careers, would you do it?
Many people find it difficult to believe that I never wanted to study engineering in the first place; that was never my intention to enter into Sciences in the first place.
I grew up in a family where my elder sister was and still is extremely intelligent. Second-borns and and last-borns can relate how big achievements by older siblings often cast a long shadow on the younger sibling’s life.
In my case, the problem probably started when I went to a school that she also attended for her Ordinary Level education. That meant there was a constant comparison with my sister.
To make things worse for me, she nailed her O Levels, setting a very high bar for me! So everything I did was always going to be compared against her achievements.
The unintended effect of all that was that she dwarfed me, and everyone around me appeared never to see my efforts. Everyone was too keen to use my sister as the benchmark.
The final blow was when, at Advanced Levels, my sister passed with 15 points (3 straight A’s). That was the moment I chose to delve into the Sciences, probably to avoid the inevitable comparisons and parallels people were prone to draw.
Despite the pressure I was in right from secondary school, I had my fair share of successes and achievements even under that otherwise self-inflicted pressure.
I admit the way I chose to pursue Sciences even when my strength was in Commercial subjects was not the best way to make such a lifetime decision. However, the choice still helped me discover myself through the journey of being an engineering graduate.
I figured I loved women empowerment. During my days at the Harare Institute of Technology, I met my mentor who gave me access into a world I never thought existed.
I was active in Science and won an award by Next Einstein Forum (NEF) in partnership with Purple Future Trust in 2018 for my effort.
The whole experience taught me that maintaining a positive attitude is important. It made me realise I had to choose to either swim or sink. I could be bitter about everything and complain and become a toxic person, or I could stop whining and start finding purpose and opportunity in a life of crisis.
In the end, I figured I had a choice and I’m glad I made the right decision. I also became open-minded to various opportunities and widened my viewpoint to new ideas as I was now on a journey of discovery.
As I reflect today, I do regret studying engineering sometimes, if not most of the times. I do have some triggers – those incidents that throw me back into regrets.
Amidst all that, I have cultivated on my strength such as public speaking, which comes to me naturally. I was introduced to radio in my final year. Now and again, I do get the feeling thay if only I had studied media, maybe my life would be a piece of cake!
My heart drops when I see social work and commercial job ads circulating. I cannot escape the thought that that could have been my dream career, only if…
Apart from the love for radio and women empowerment, I am passionate about community involvement and find such activities more fulfilling than what I majored in at university. Truly speaking, the struggle with career choices made years ago is real.
Along this self-discovery journey of picking myself up, I have different people and they would promise life changing opportunities. However, the promises more often do not materialise, sometimes leaving me hanging dry and find a way to navigate down from my hopes high.
I have managed to turn my pain into purpose. I am now actively involved in career guidance and encourage young people not to make the same mistake I made. I work to keep the young people mindful of what is needed in their professional journey and how they can avoid distractions along the way.
I have mastered the art of focusing on what i love: charity and empowerment events. Hiding and self-blaming won’t solve a thing.
The big lesson for me is that it is never too late to do something fullfilling. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.
- Neddy is the founder of Connect With Mentors, an organisation geared towards helping young people from the age of 13 to connect with mentors and choose career paths after making informed decisions.