Your Life Won’t Change If This Doesn’t Change

by Sylvie Tamanda
Some called me selfish; others referred to me as overly ambitious; and some even went so far as to call me a bad mom.
Hm… What did I do to deserve all of this slurring?
Could you guess?
Well, before your imagination goes too wild, I didn’t kill, steal, or cheat anyone of their property or resources.
What I did was take charge of my own life and destiny and make some uncomfortable decisions. most of which went contrary to societal expectations.
Those who have been following me know that I lost my father when I was 16, and it still remains the one incident that marked me and turned my life upside down.
My decisions, habits, and choices have been guided by that single event.
And on this occasion, I was getting ready to leave my newborn baby with my mom, his grandma in Cameroon, to travel to London for my MBA.
Before I found out I was pregnant, I always wanted to have my MBA under 30—a promise I made to my late father.
I first got admission into the German university of Cairo, where I studied for a whole year.
Then another opportunity came for me to travel to London for another MBA program, and I took it.
While preparing for this opportunity, I found out what we were expecting.
You know the feeling when you find out the last thing you wished for is the same thing that has come upon you?
“Être mouillé, c’est être mouillé, il n’y a pas de mouillé sec,” the Frenchman says.
Despite all the family planning measures, “sir chief” just couldn’t wait another year to meet us. He wanted to do things his way, so he turned up unannounced.
As much as he had plans, I had plans too.
I continued attending my classes at the German University whilst waiting for my visa procedure for London to be concluded.
I literally would have had my son on a plane if not for a 21-day delay from the UK home office.
We got more time because of the delay, and I was able to get a semester extension so I could care for him.
Eventually, time came for me to make the decision to cancel my programme or travel without my newborn.
I prayed, cried, and hugged my baby tight. And off I went!
I arrived at Heathrow with leaky boobies that were full of milk and extremely painful. Yikes!
And the strange thing is that every time my baby cried for my nurturing breast milk, I somehow felt it from miles away in London.
The truth is that the bond was already so strong between mother and son that even distance couldn’t break it.
I am not going to lie; the first two weeks were extremely hard, both emotionally and mentally. I took a couple of his clothes with me to smell him; I would sometimes cry in class and on the bus ride to school.
We found a full-time babysitter to care for him alongside his grandmother.
He was in the company of his big brother, aunties, and uncles.
Yes, my presence would have made a lot of difference, but at what cost?


  • At the cost of my 12-month MBA programme
  •  At the expense of my lifelong ambition?
  • At the expense of a promise I made to my late father, my hero?
  • At the expense of a better future for himself and his brother?
  • At the cost of my own self-confidence, fulfillment, and balance?


At what cost?
Many of us at some point have or will experience a situation where tough decisions will have to be made.
Are you going to fold into societal expectations, or will you follow your heart?
In my case, as you can tell, I followed my heart because I knew that my baby would be better off with a mom who doesn’t resent his birth because she was forced by society to sacrifice her dream.
Some people even said to me… Sylvie Why can’t you wait until the child is grown?
My response to them was this: “There’ll never be a perfect time.”
The opportunity is here now, and I will seize it, because today is a gift and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
I promised my baby before I left that I would make him super proud.
So, I went to school and stuck to my books.
  • No pubs or clubs
  • No gallivanting
  • No sightseeing
  • No parting

just school and work every single day for as long as I was in London.
It paid off big time, because I graduated with 10As in all my modules and a distinction degree.
To make the decision less emotionally painful, I spoke to my baby on WhatsApp video calls daily and flew back home during my Easter break and summer break to see him.
Women in particular are expected to sacrifice and put everything on hold because they’re mothers or because they’re expecting.
That’s an unfair expectation that must be shunned by women who don’t want to put their lives on hold for anyone. not for kids, nor for society.
There’s a healthy balance to be struck, which, although difficult, is possible.
What I always keep in the back of my mind when faced with decisions like this is the quote, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”
My story isn’t to tell you how fantastic I am, but to remind you that you’re stronger than you could ever imagine and that everything is going to be alright when you pick the path that is least travelled with the right motives.
Keeping your eyes on the big picture is another way to cope when faced with difficult decisions or challenging situations.
Whatever the situation you’re in right now, I want you to know that you’ve got greatness in you; don’t wait for the perfect time to go out and live your dreams.

The time is here and now. Pull the trigger! 


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