In 2001, in my second year at secondary school, I had an opportunity to stand on a platform and deliver some kind of a speech to my fellow classmate. I started; “My name is Nesta Jojoe Erskine. I…..” Before I could complete the next sentence, all we could hear was kuuum! Somebody had fallen down. Everybody in the hall burst out laughing. I was standing still without a dint of smile on my face. I didn’t laugh. Do you know why?
Because I was the one who fell!
I was raised in Mankessim. I attended primary and JSS there. There was one question my parent used to ask a lot during those periods, the question was, what I would like to become when I grew up. In primary school, I wanted to be a teacher. In JSS, I wanted to be a doctor. By the time I got admission into Winneba Secondary, My mum asked again: “What would you like to be when you grow up?” I answered; “I want to be a lawyer.”
I completed Senior high school with the kind of grades no university in the country was ready to take the risk to offer me admission. I stayed home for four years, wrote resist before I could get admission to study HND Estate Management in Kumasi Polytechnic. Then again, my mum realising I couldn’t become a lawyer while doing Estate Management, asked me; “What would you like to be when you grow up?” This time I only said; “I would want to become an estate engineer”
After my national service in 2010, I had to find a job that will pay me just enough to survive. I couldn’t find any. So, in 2011, I did a four months’ course in occupational health and safety and later found my first job as a Safety Officer.
All this while, I had a deep-seated passion for being a writer. So, I started a blog in 2011. The nature of my job as a safety officer didn’t allow enough space to write as I’d wanted to. I gave up writing. Though I still have that blog running.
In 2012, I had an admission to study BSc. Logistics and supply chain management in KNUST. After my graduation in 2015, I had a call from my mum. among other things, she was sorry she couldn’t attend my graduation, though I didn’t invite her. Then before she would hang up the call, she asked; “Now tell me, what would you like to be when you grow up?”
At this point, I knew whatever answer I give her should be final. I knew also that she wanted an honest answer from me so I answered; “Mum, there is no more growing up to do. I’m a man now. What lies ahead of me isn’t growth—it’s living. Experiencing. It’s accepting whom I’ve come to be and striving to improve the man I was yesterday. you see, there is no more when I grow up because I am.” She chuckled and hung up.
At that point, I knew if someday I should die before my mother, she would walk nearer to my casket, lean closer to my ears and whisper: “What would you want to become when you grow up?”
That woman doesn’t know when to stop.
So Today, I’m going to ask myself the same question but in a different way: “What have you become now that you said you are grown?”
And the answer is simply this;
I am a writer and a blogger at nestaerskine.com. I’m also in the process of completing my first book on a topic that interests me so much; “REJECTION.” Why people get rejected and how you can make rejection a stepping stone to greatness.
Of course, I’m still an Occupational health and safety professional working with various companies to prevent injuries to workers and ensure positive working culture within the organisation.
And today, as I stand here, I can proudly say that above everything that I’ve said I am, I also am a friend to each and every one of you here. Because I’ve delivered a speech and I didn’t fall.
Toastmaster, thank you very much.