You graduate from uni with a Bachelor of Biomedical Lab Technology. Your mum throws a glorious celebration for this milestone. Everything seems in place. You find work in a molecular biology lab. You’re doing a commendable job extracting DNA, running agarose gel electrophoresis, studying those DNA bands under UV light. You’ve even discovered a novel way of extracting DNA. Your boss tells you to follow the methodology already published in journals. You tell him, “But Dr (your boss holds a PhD.), this method I’ve figured out works.” He insists you should do it the way many molecular biologists before you did it. Follow the script.
You work for five months and don’t receive any form of remuneration. You speak to your boss about it. He says he’ll “do something about it.” When you were still getting upkeep from your mother during your days at the university, you bought shares in three listed companies on the Uganda Securities Exchange. That was the best financial decision you made in your early 20’s. You had a combined few thousand shares in two banks and one manufacturing company.
When the buck wasn’t coming for all those months from your work in the lab, you kept selling some shares to keep afloat. You hoped your work in the lab would pay. You prayed your boss would remember you.
Your share count starts bleeding. You were draining it like a tick on a cow’s ear. So you wrote to your boss. You told him using the most polite English you’ve probably ever written that if there’s no dough for you the following month, you wouldn’t continue to work. You explain to him you don’t have the sustenance to keep you going any longer. That month goes by. You are dry. You get no pay. Then you write your first ever resignation letter, hand it to your boss, lower your head, drop shoulders, sigh and walk out. You are 23 years old and after one year and six months in the lab (one year before graduating and six months after graduating), you drop the ball.
You aren’t sure of what you’ve just done. You have nothing to hold onto. And just like a snap of Thanos’ fingers, you become another number to the unemployment statistics of this country.
You apply for other lab jobs. You drop hard copy applications. You send soft copies. You apply for scholarships. Doors keep getting shut in your face. You ask Jesus to open other doors for you. You pray your rosary. You go for mass. You say your divine mercy prayers and go for adoration. You fast and ask for the intercession of the saints. You continue to be a firm catholic.
One afternoon, you get a call from one of those places you applied to. The person on the other end of the line tells you to go back and pick your application letter. “The director says you didn’t address him the right way in your letter,” she says. She hangs up. You wear a blank stare into the sky. “That’s ridiculous,” you say with a cringe, veins popping out on your neck and forehead. You want to swear at the guy but you are prayerful. The spirit of the lord holds your tongue.
You interview with an international medical organization run by the French. You make it to the final stage but don’t get the job. A lady calls you to break the news that you weren’t hired. She was on the interview panel. She speaks to you in that French accent that makes you start seeing the Eiffel tower. She’s good to you, explains why you weren’t hired. “It’s because your experience doesn’t match what we are looking for,” she tells me. It’s a bitter grape to swallow. She recommends you to apply to another medical organization which she believes your skillset would make you thrive in. But that organization doesn’t have any openings yet.
One of your relatives gets you a placement. It’s at a hospital lab. You should be excited but you aren’t comfortable with it. So you painfully turn down the offer.
It’s been five months since you were last employed. Your confidence is at the bottom of the sea. You are embarrassed to answer the questions, “So what are you up to? What do you do?” when you meet friends. You’ve sold your shares in one bank and the manufacturing company. You still have a few hundred shares in the other bank. You hold onto those ones like your breath depends on it. They are your only financial backup. You sell them and use the cash, you remain with nothing. You hang in there.
Amidst the self-doubt and brokenness, you discover a platform called Blogger. So to make yourself useful and to take your mind away from worry and feeling useless, you take a stab at this thing called blogging. Seven days to your 24th birthday, you start your first blog. You call it Every Lessonz with the tagline, Life is a teacher. Learn from it. You type out your first blog post. Why I don’t smoke.
And that’s when it hits you, at the end of this post, that you started blogging because of unemployment.