The last few days have been exciting. I’ve been learning something new but not in your conventional classroom. One step out of many on my way to being a better me, it made me realize just how much I miss venturing out into unknown territory.
Someone said that for my generation, it is hard to pinpoint what or who we are. It is difficult to use the word “profession” or “career” to define us. Our portfolios are full and diverse. What worked for our parents isn’t working for many of us.
It’s true that we went to school.
We had high hopes for the future.
We were psyched to work, to get jobs, to “make it” and be happy.
And then we graduated. We realized that the jobs were not there. We still hoped that we would fit in somehow. Surely, there must be one job, just one, for us somewhere. So we struggled and hustled… until it was obvious that unless we reinvented ourselves, we were going nowhere. So tired and heartbroken, we became entrepreneurs. Not a good way to start anything. But then, something had to be salvaged. Because meager incomes, sun-beaten brows, babies and families did not make a good combination.
One by one we also realized that going back to school was one way out. No matter how long it took, we went back. Professional and vocational certificates, master’s degrees and doctorates, we became academicians, plodding our weary way through research, all for the sake of Human Dignity.
Once we understood the pathway that led through books, the race began again in earnest. Looking on were our siblings and cousins still treading their way up the academic ladder. They saw and learned. The prudent among them, don’t even bother to live the lie – that there is life after school. Because in the economy that is ours, school is life.
So I found myself at a precarious place. I have had to reinvent myself and for someone who had no entrepreneurial inclinations, it was an uphill task. Still is. I consider myself to be hard working. I want things but I don’t want them desperately. What makes me happy hardly comes in wrapped packages. But I do like to work for causes. Is there a bit of irony in that? I suppose I need to get motivated, driven by some selfless goal to push me out of my state. Don’t get me wrong. I am not satisfied with things around me but for myself, well, do I need the world?
So instead of designing open spaces and hosting public meetings as Urban Planners should, I dig deep into a decade ago, commercializing dreams and natural talents that formerly lay dormant. So I’m now an artist, an educator and everything else in between. I am now the cause that I work for. So I know I’ll be just fine.
Things do not always have to fit neatly into a box. We are dealing with different scenarios from decades ago where now you’ve got to fit into something more complicated than a box. In a way, it’s liberating to be able to brand yourself in a manner that is unconventional.
But seriously, if you can condense what I do into a business card, then call me. I’ve got a job for you.
By Grace Ecklu