Excelling in a corporate career that had the potential to elevate her even more positionally, Ciku shares with us how she broke out of the mould of social expectations towards designing and walking her own path.
I chose to defy the set path and find my purpose in God and the reason for which I was created. I began by walking away from my corporate job to discover what I was meant to do; where I fit, so that my life could have impact. That one decision has led to many other adjustments in my thinking and belief system, in different parts of my life and relationships. I made that choice because I began to feel like there was more to life than what I was experiencing at the time. On my birthday 9 years ago I remember being extremely discontent and despite being in a job that had great career prospects for me; being surrounded by an amazing family and close circle of friends; despite being at a point in my life where everything was looking bright and prospective, I began to question whether that was all there was to life. Was I meant to just go through the set system of school, employment, marriage then die? I began to question a God I didn’t even have a relationship with at the time. I began to have a very strong conviction – an unexplainable one – that there was more to life. That conviction and the hope it brought to me is what led to the choice I made.
Initially, to my family and friends, my choice looked like a decision to leave one job in search for a better one, so everyone (while apprehensive at how I left without a plan) was enthusiastic in their support. What they didn’t realize (and to be honest neither did I at the time) was that what I was doing was committing to a new journey, one that was undefined. All I knew is that I wanted more, and to discover the more, I needed to find and have a relationship with God. I did not have a defined end in mind; I was submitting myself to God’s leading. Now, when you begin to talk and think like that people get really uncomfortable. The lack of certainty caused a lot of strain with my family, with some thinking that I was being irresponsible with my life, despite getting a good education. It was not easy managing some relationships and getting people to understand why I had taken the position that I was quite set on. Frankly, I can’t blame them because it was all so new to me; I did not know how to explain it.
But over time, my family came around and I have seen how powerful it is to walk in the truth of God’s word and leading. And I don’t mean in religious activity; rather a walk that is relational, personal. It’s interesting that today my family can say that the position I took has made a difference in our home and inspired them to discover their own purpose. I have friends who have taken similar routes and began to defy paths they have been on that don’t serve them or bring them any satisfaction.
When I began to receive this emerging support from my family and response from friends, I felt awesome! And very “Maverick-ish”. Then came all the doubts and questioning because suddenly all the attention was on this girl who decided to “quit work and sit at home with God”. I spent a lot of time crying. I isolated myself and I cannot tell you how broken I was initially. Did I make a mistake? Was I a crazy person for thinking I could defy the mould? Was I lazy?! My goodness! The emotional cocktail inside me! Before I could understand how to calm down, I was quite torn up. I realized then, how powerful words were; I say first-hand how they can break you. I am now very deliberate in how I deal with people.
With regards to what price I may have paid for making that choice of abandoning the well-travelled path, allow me to first say that looking back whatever price I have paid was worth it. Of course, the first thing that changed was my financial capabilities because all of a sudden I did not have the security of formal employment, and my social circle became even smaller. But then I found freedom! It is liberating to walk your own path, the one ordained for you by your creator, rather than walk a path because of social expectations. I now have a self-awareness that is enlightening and gives me confidence. I have had the privilege of working in spaces that enable me to use my life and lessons to empower others – young girls especially. I have met friends walking similar paths of self-discovery who have become family. I have seen mind shifts in my family. My newfound relationship with God helped me greatly overcome the initial backlash; the more I got to know God the more I understood, the more I was able to handle. I began to see the bigger picture about my life and that helped because even though the times were uncertain, at least I wasn’t crazy! I also allowed myself to feel and deal with what I was feeling.
Now I live by these three core principles:
Faith: I live by faith and not by sight. What I mean is, the word of God to me as Ciku is what shapes and guides my life. I am learning more and more everyday how to surrender to God’s leading. The beauty about living by faith; you get to see more than the naked eye has ability to see! There is an unseen spiritual realm that shapes what we see in the natural. Your mind just opens up to possibilities you never thought were there.
Truth: Truth is an anchor. It gives you principles and patterns to live by that make it easier to walk with God. Truth changes your inside; the way you think, the unhealthy reactions you have to people or circumstances. Truth never ever fails.
Love: I have experienced a love in my relationship with God that has changed me. I now choose to operate in that love and learn to give it selflessly more and more each day. Love has the ability to change you. And where love abides there can be no fear; “Perfect love casts out all fear”.
I am living proof that it is possible to choose the path less travelled and live a life of purpose (not to mention excitement)!
We’re grateful to Ciku for sharing HERstory with us. Travelling the common path, thriving in it and then rejecting it for one’s authentic path takes courage – we celebrate her courage! Ciku Mbugua, from Kenya, is currently a Public Policy and Development Consultant.
If you’re interested in submitting a story of an African woman (you or an interviewee), please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.