They say that clever people are cursed by the expectations of those around them. They are convinced by parents and teachers that any other career apart from Medicine or Engineering (and a fancy type at that-not the ‘common’ engineering courses, no; the aeronautical, or the biomedical, or spatial), is a meaningless endeavor.  When I was young, I was told, with brains like mine, I should become a neurosurgeon ( oh, the beauty of pun). I was thrilled; I mean, who doesn’t think a neurosurgeon is super cool? I knew nothing of the demands of the course, but I did get stares of admiration from my classmates in Standard 3 when I solemnly declared that my future career plan was to get a PhD in Neurosurgery, and then start my own practice to rival Agha Khan Hospital. And then, of course, I would be swimming in money.

But time passed, and I immersed myself in activities that I found a genuine interest in, I discovered that there was so much more to life than neurosurgery. I grew to love Music, Physics, Literature and art. When the moment of reckoning came, I informed my parents that I didn’t want to pursue Neurosurgery- in fact, I didn’t want to do Medicine as a field.

Anyone who has ever had such a conversation with their parents will understand me when I say that they  reacted as if I had told them I wanted to drop out of school. I was coaxed, threatened, lectured, and advised before they gave up on me. “Fine,fine, waste your grades then, go do whatever you want, and tarmac forever. Go become a pauper.”

Now, my parents are not bad people. They only want the best for my future. But the thing is, should we have jobs solely because the chances of becoming unemployed are low? No career is financially safe in Kenya, after all. Junior government doctors earn about 10000 shillings per week, and by the time the ‘good’ money comes in, they will have to have worked relentlessly. And not every doctor will begin a private practice. So if you go into a career with only salary and prestige on your mind, you are in for a rude shock. About 100 students either repeat or drop out of medical school by the end of the first year. Why not then, pursue what you truly desire, and make a career out of it? If we all decided to play safe, what would life be?

So I decided to become a pauper. I am going to pursue Music, and computer technology, because that is what I enjoy. I am not saying that I will disregard all advice given to me and only ‘follow my heart’. With the unemployment rates peaking at almost 40% in Kenya today, I cannot afford to slack off in my fields. But I can’t ignore my heart; it protests.

In 10 years time, I might be ridiculously successful, or a spectacular failure. But I’m not going to willingly to let the latter possibility become a reality. And  I know I won’t regret my decision.



  1. Halima · October 14, 2014

    *trumpets and fireworks* you go girl!! I am all for what u say in this post. Plus,what our parents and most people fail to understand is people should go to university so that they create jobs when they graduate. Thats the only way to combat unemployment.
    P.s you should try telling people you want to do psychology. Its like i suddenly sprout a third eye…smh 😟

  2. thatkenyanchick · October 14, 2014

    I feel you Halima! The only way to move forward is to get rid of the bias and ignorance at large in Kenya, about University courses.

  3. Adima · October 14, 2014

    This is really good work Borus! I badly wanted to be a journalist in my yester years, only for my uncle to tell me that I was wasting my dreams. That killed me and I actually found something I loved and pursued it, despite my parents telling me the exact same words, “Go be a pauper!”
    I love your blog. Continue writing

    • thatkenyanchick · October 14, 2014

      Thanks! The problem with us is that we assume the only way to succeed in life is to follow a specific career path..We don’t realise that a career is what you make it. 🙂
      You can still do freelance journalism Adima 🙂

  4. etta · October 14, 2014

    well put borus… by the end of the day you have yourself to account to oohh n u only get one shot at life why not make the most of it…

  5. Kipish (@IamKenei) · October 15, 2014

    The face my dad made when I said no to medicine…..I am happy now I get to play around with computers and math as much as I like!….. go be what makes you happy 🙂

  6. Karen · October 21, 2014

    This is the best thing I’ve read Borus! yes.. I am doing engineering because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.. though my ultimate aim is to become a venture capitalist but of course almost no one knows that.. 😀
    let’s all become paupers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s