Seasons: Part 2 – Purgatory

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In university I took on several jobs to help ease the financial burden on my parents. During my Law degree at the University of Wales, Cardiff, I was a Student Warden at my hall of residence and I had various jobs at the students union.

Between my LLB and MBA I secured a job at the Welsh Office, the Home Office for Wales. It was the time of the outbreak of mad cow disease (BSE). I would liaise with farmers in South West Wales, and ensure their herds were incinerated to facilitate compensation. It was a terrible, hellish time for cattle farmers in the UK, but that is a story for another day.

During my MBA I had a greater finance gap to cover. My office job, even combined with the students union work, was not enough. But a friend told me about a factory where the pay was fairly good, I went and registered immediately for two shifts weekly.

We would go in at 7pm and work till 7am on a production line in a massive bakery. My job was to stack English crumpets on a fast moving conveyor belt. For hours I would stand there, stacking, stacking stacking… if you paused for a moment the crumpets would pile up and the machines would be switched off. No shift could afford that. We had targets. And so we worked, fast, fast, fast, so fast… Mindless work, stacking.

For the first few weeks I had nightmares that I could not keep up with the machine… I would wake up in a sweat, my hands moving, stacking imaginary crumpets! After a few weeks on the job the tips of my fingers became sore and tender, soon after that they were cut and bleeding. We wore gloves but I would buy plasters and wrap my fingertips thick and tight to alleviate the pain and stop the callous skin from developing. When I first got there the shift manager took one look at me and said, “This one will not survive a shift.” Well, I did. And within a couple of weeks I was one of the fastest hands on the deck!

My toughest days were Wednesdays. I would work the Tuesday night shift at the factory and get home at 7.30am. I just had time to shower and have a bite to eat then head off to my Strategic Management tutorial from 9am to 11am. I loved the subject but sitting through that session was agony, keeping my eyes open was so hard!

Looking back on my life I am so thankful for those jobs. Like a gem in the rough that needs polishing, we all need experiences that help shape and mould us…

My work in the students union taught me how to deal with people, all kinds of people… Some very pleasant and civilized, some a little too pleasant (ahem!), others drunk, and some racist and just plain nasty.

At the Welsh Office I learnt how to deal with people facing a crisis. How to convince a devastated Welsh farmer that we are indeed trying to be of help. How to move a person from furious and frustrated to calm and focused on making the best out of a bad situation.

And from that factory job that I loathed so much I learnt an incredible skill… The art of very serious multitasking. Moving swiftly, compartmentalizing your thoughts and actions even as you execute multiple activities. I was always a very fast reader, and clear thinker… now my hands were fast too. I would stand on that production line dreaming of a million different things, mentally walking through statutes, case -law and and case-studies, planning my essays and projects, visualizing my future, and all the while never missing a beat, nor a crumpet.

Every cloud has a silver lining they say, and indeed that is true. In every struggle there is a blessing. There will be a season when you feel like you are in hiatus, everything seems out of reach and life is so difficult. You will ask yourself, “Where will I get my big break?”, but the opportunity will not come to you, you must create it. When in purgatory there is an end game, focus on it and work towards it for your time in situ will not last forever. Like Jospeh and Daniel and Esther in the Bible you must prepare yourself for your purpose and you will rise to it when the time comes.

Be strategic, work hard, and from every experience take knowledge and gain understanding. Your time in purgatory will make your eventual success all the sweeter… for if we have not been drenched in the sweat of hard work and the tears of disappointment and struggle, how can we the truly appreciate the sweetness of success?

Afro-optimist * Wife * Mother * Child of God TV Host * Writer * Producer * Entrepreneur * Philanthropist

28 Comments on "Seasons: Part 2 – Purgatory"

  1. loise says:

    very encouraging Julie i keep saying you are my role model.Truth is at times i feel weary but evry time i look at you and your life i dream again coz you inspire me and many other young women. God bless you i hope i could be half the woman you are.

  2. John says:

    This is quite inspirational. To be frank, I have overheard friend discussing about Julie Gichuru a number of times. However, what catches my attention the most in when they talk about Julies financial status (in a manner suggesting they are sure). Some quote it as 1.5 million, others assert it is 1.8, 2, et cetera. Reading this story has given me what to say when they trigger such debates. That irrespective of the thousands, millions or whatever huge amounts of money Julie gets, there is a price that she paid for it. Doing manual jobs and multitasking in such challenging environments is a wonderful revelation. As they say, Ukiona vyaelea, jua vimeundwa! Julie you are truly an inspiration to many in different ways, keep saying much of ”THE TREK”. Thanks so much.

  3. Duncan gichana says:

    Dats really uplifting…the past is wea we learn the lesson the future is wea we apply it…thax julie 4 sharing ua exeperience.

  4. Komo says:

    truly an inspiration to many in different
    ways, mostry to us yang people

  5. Carolyne Cathy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Reminds me of how long I waited for my ‘Big break’. Most of my college mates got what I considered ‘good jobs’ 2 years earlier than me. I was stuck doing contractual jobs that left me wondering why I had to go through campus. Tarmacking is not easy.It is not fun,but when the good Lord finally decides its your turn…it is surely your turn.
    Thanks once again for sharing this story.

  6. Elizabeth Wachira says:

    for if we have not been drenched in the sweat of hard work and the tears of disappointment and struggle, how can we the truly appreciate the sweetness of success?
    Although at times we pain and wonder if this is really worth,I am encouraged by your Charisma and zeal to be a better person.
    You make mothers proud and aspiring mothers zealous that we can jumble work,friends,love,family and all else that is right and be Successful!

  7. sam says:

    Truly INSPIRATIONAL.

  8. Kanana says:

    inspiring. God bless you as you bless others with your experiences.

  9. Joe says:

    Very inspiring, we need more of such encouraging real life stories from our role models. We may live thinking some people were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, KUMBE wamepitia mengi

  10. Norah says:

    Julie … thanks for sharing. I am wading through the mucky waters of leadership as a leader of an organisation whose staff at the management tier (total of six) are all men, except me – I am the only woman – resistence is high from all directions … but I am hanging in there. Your story inspires courage to find a way to make it work …

  11. Wambui says:

    The importance of having a goal and living it…truly inspirational!

  12. Kellie says:

    A very inspiring narrative Julie. The young people need to hear the stories behind the lives they see on the screen. There’s a tendency to believe it’s all glitz and glamour, but hearing what it takes to get there inspires them to do even more.

    Kudos!

  13. Kimeu nicky says:

    Julie!u really inspire ….God bless …kip dat spirit of lifting us the youth in everyway!

  14. Wema says:

    thanks Julie,sharing such struggles inspires me a young mum,very new at it, trying to create the path my career will take. Truly, its only after experiencing the scorching sun, and the cold biting winters when we can appreciate cooling rains and the joys of summer in life. May u b blessed Julie

  15. Wangu says:

    Inspiration doesn’t come in a better package than this!
    Awesome.

  16. Winnie Cherop says:

    Julie, you truly are God-sent. You don’t how uplifting that is. God bless you and keep sharing.

  17. Esther Wangui Karanja says:

    Julie, I am twenty years old and in law school. I too was not born with a silver spoon and I have had to learn the art of multitasking. I tend to go through case laws and other school-related stuff as I do all of the chores expected of me. My respect for you has risen to another higher level. Now I understand the reason to your high standard in everything that you do. My new hero.

  18. Ngige Benson says:

    Julie,You r such an inspiration.a role model,waoh…God Bless.

  19. Thanks for all your feedback… Ever experience offers lessons, every struggle makes us stronger, every challenge has an opportunity attached to it… If you learn and come out stronger you can conquer the world :)

  20. catherine says:

    Hi Julie,
    Oh, this brought a knowing smile to my face. I worked in a factory making dumplings. some were normal dough, but we did some green ones with spices added that made me sneeze so much my nose was constantly red. It took me a long time to eat dumplings. I did various jobs when I was studying and even after graduating and like you, I am grateful for each and every one of them, for they taught me invaluable lessons. I am a better person for all the loos I cleaned, all the kitchens I mopped and dishes I washed. As I stood there washing endless baking tins, I promised myself a better future. And get it I did and strive everyday to make it more so.
    It always amuses me when some “clever” read ignorant person insults people who go abroad for doing “dirty” jobs. Those jobs are the making of many and the support of countless others back home. However it saddens me when I see really bright and talented Kenyans unable or unwilling to make the transition to better paid positions.
    Thanks for keeping it real.

  21. Steve says:

    inspiring memoir… still remember your talk at our Journalism class ta USIU … you’re an insipiration

  22. Gregory Mabele says:

    I must say this article is very encouraging, especially for those of us who are in a hiatus and have been waiting for that big break – now I realise all I ever needed to do is look for the break myself! Thank you Julie – you’re an inspiration.

  23. Kashu says:

    it is only when a young bird hustles , that it discovers its wings..i believe that we have what we need to create a better future. To experience growth and adventure, we must be willing to leave what we have known for long, be it friends , family or home….success goes a long way…thank you for inspiring young people and for hitting the reality that life is not that rosy…you are keeping the youth on track…..be blessed :)

  24. edith says:

    i am inspired to become a better person..thanx julie

  25. Atei says:

    This is an inspiring story. Success comes with personal commitments.

  26. Sally says:

    Hey Julie, thanks alot for your sharing your experience. its really encouraging to hear what others have been thru to urge us on in our life’s challenges. I now feel charged to tackle another day’;s lessons.
    Asante sana

  27. Matthew says:

    “Ambitions are made of sterner staff”. Thanx so much for you encouragement. God bless you

  28. Rachael says:

    A smooth sea has never made a skilful mariner, neither do uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify for usefulness and happiness. The storms of adversity rouse the faculties, excite the invention, skill and fortitude of the voyager. Thanks so much Julie for the story, its so encouraging.

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