“How much did they first pay you to give up on your dreams?” – the courage to pursue your passion


Clooney: “Your children’s admiration means a lot to you, right? ”

Newly Fired Guy: “Yeah?”

Clooney: “Oh well, they shouldn’t.”

Fired Guy: “Hey asshole, aren’t you supposed to be consoling me?”

Clooney: “I’m not a shrink, I’m a wake-up call……you know why kids love athletes?”

Fired Guy: “Because they get to bang lingerie models?”

Clooney: “No, that’s why we like athletes. Kids love athletes because they follow their dreams. What happened to yours, Sir?”

Fired Guy: “What do you mean?”

Clooney: “I checked your resume, and it says you can cook. You once ran a French fries cookout so you could pay your way through college. Tell me, HOW MUCH DID THEY FIRST PAY YOU TO GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS?”

– Excerpts from the indie movie “Up In The Air” (2009).

In the movie, one-time-perennial-bachelor George Clooney plays the role of a “corporate downsizer”, who helps chicken-hearted bosses tell selected employees the three magic words “you’re fired”, but with a sense of empathy. You know, kinda like caressing a stab wound. The movie in itself is an absolute beauty, different from the “kpishaun kpishaun” in Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve. But the conversation above from one of the earlier scenes gripped me in particular. I first saw that movie five years ago, and it makes even much more sense to me now.


N80k/month? N230k/month? N400k/month? I know, I know. “Na Naija we dey o! Recession, ehn, you nor see wetin MTN do the other day? All these banks nko”

But what sets us apart from other mammals is our ability to dream! We aren’t just here to get up by 4am, hit the road, keep our heads mentally bowed, smile because it’s the routine, live in fear of making errors, and then have our eyes brighten with credit alerts on a certain date in the month before returning to zombie-esque, I-must-please mode.

Forget all that talk of building a career with X and X Plc. If it isn’t in line with your gifts, you will never be truly happy. You will be average at best (if not winding up a total misfit), and you will forever be deemed expendable. Remember Boxer from Animal Farm? How about D’Artagnan the slave from the movie Django Unchained?

Let me chip in this real-life instance: Valerie and Imade were both graduates. They both knew how to make magic with pieces of fabric. They were both rookies, however, but while Imade stuck to what her hands could create, Valerie got a job as a Customer Service Officer in a first generation bank whose name I am not about to mention.

16 months down the line, Imade now has a thriving client base. Heck, she even made a dress for Valerie’s sister. Our lovely Customer Service Officer not only lives in everyday fear of getting chopped off the roll of employees, she is also losing her sewing abilities slowly, but gradually.

Now ask yourself: what are you frickin’ good at? Trust me, Mama Ekene the akara seller and Iya Sikirat whom you enjoy barking orders at just so your belly gets some amala and gbegiri, make more money than many of you 9-5ers per annum!


I’ve seen doctors out of work, lawyers hungry as heck, engineers languishing on their mothers’ couches. And I’ve seen people dying slowly from depression on pay cheques of N3 million naira per annum. Simply because they traded their souls for some adjustments in their account statements! I am probably not in the best position to spew out all this but these heads of ours were made for dreaming, and that’s what they should do. Go out there, be broke, be shunned, be laughed at, but it’s alright, way better (ultimately) than catering to and damaging your spine for another man(or woman, or group of men)’s life goals.

And oh, I forgot: to your worried father and braying mother, let them know that you’re within your rights to be selfish with your aspirations. And the next time you intimate them of your desire to walk away from that slave plantation where you’re reminded every other hour of your inadequacy; slam the phone on them, change numbers if you have to. Yes, the cold will be hard-hitting, and there’ll be stomach-biting evenings laced with sore feet, but you wont die!!!
After all, it’s the same parents who contributed to this mess: always placing us out like school was a horse race, lecturing us about sizes of contemporaries’ heads and assured futures of certain routes, instead of allowing us to find our own paths. This is why in many places today, fishes will spend 25 years trying to fly, and elephants will see out 30 years trying to climb trees.
No disrespect, no ingratitude, but we owe them nothing, really, and we deserve to step out of the tracks. To try and fail on our own terms. To Live! To Live!!

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