By Penelope Nankuna, WIN Uganda 2019
“I must constantly take a critical look at my life and determine if I am still on track to where I have decided to head.”
I am a deadline-driven, result-oriented communication specialist who prides in delivering quality work.
Over the years, I have chanted this statement so much that I can say it in my sleep. No cover letter has left my email without this phrase. In fact, when I applied to join the inaugural Women In News (WIN) programme, it was easy to jot down my strengths. They were derived from the above statement.
One could say it is my mantra. My mission statement, if you please.
Strangely, these much loved, well-rehearsed lyrics did not stand firm under the intense light of my WIN journey. A journey that has seen me go from nonchalantly filling in forms about the future of my career to tentatively taking a peek into my heart. Answering questions like what am I doing? Is this it? Where do I want to be and how do I get there?
But I am getting ahead of myself. How did I arrive at all these questions?
At the beginning of this year, my editor in chief came out of her office very excited. She had just got news that WIN was finally coming to Uganda after sponsorship was secured from the Norwegian embassy. She then went on to encourage all the women in the newsroom to apply for this opportunity; and apply I did.
WIN was not completely new to me. In 2017, I attended the Women in News Conference, as part of the wider WAN-IFRA Congress in Durban, South Africa. At the time, I wondered why Uganda didn’t have representatives in WIN. So, here was a chance I was not going to let pass.
At the first National Gathering in March of this year, the ground was set for what we were to expect. I met many amazing women in the Ugandan media sphere and was pumped to be taught how to best handle this media world. After 14 years in the industry, one would imagine I’ve got all the bases covered, but like my coach later found out, I’ve been winging it and was ready to have someone finally tell me how to make it in this industry.
As part of the programme, I was assigned an amazing coach – Human rights lawyer and activist Jacqueline Asiimwe. I was also informed that out of this process, I would have to emerge with a career plan.
So, six months down the road, what do I look back on as my WINs?
I know now that it’s not a matter of ticking the boxes and giving “correct” answers that I think people want to hear regarding my career. I know now that I must constantly take a critical look at my life and determine if I am still on track to where I have decided to head.
It’s simple; the career map is not for WIN; it’s not for my employers; it’s not for my coach! It is for ME! It’s my compass; my roadmap that I can always refer to anytime I am burning out or feeling listless about my life. The career roadmap is that aspect of my Life Plan that will ensure that I am enjoying a fulfilled life even as I wake up to go to work every day.
My other WIN is discovering the carrots. Coming from a place where I was chasing so many “opportunities” and hardly catching any, I now realise I was spreading myself too thin and getting frustrated. Now knowing exactly what direction I am going towards; I have learnt to ignore some carrots that are dangling right under my nose in the name of job opportunities or certain trainings and focus on looking out for those carrots that will advance my end goals.
My biggest WIN, I believe, is getting out of the coasting/ floating lane and being excited about finding my true lane; my True North; a direction on which I can focus and operate at maximum potential.
One of the hardest things to do was taking the time to self-reflect and be honest with myself about where I am and where I want to be. It was a big, enormous black hole I was asking myself to step into. But with guidance from my coach, I took the step and WOW! What a journey!
I determined that my life is too important for me to just be blown about by the various “winds” around.
Yes, I am a deadline-driven, result-oriented communication specialist who prides in delivering quality work; but I am also everything else I say I am. No four words can describe me; I am more than 100 words!