What do you want to be when you grow up? This is probably the most common question we got asked as kids; and we would all respond with doctor, lawyer, engineer, biologist, business man/woman. Basically the profession of whoever we looked up to at that point in time.
Childhood is the most crucial part of any individual’s life because it is the phase where habits, mindset and approach to life is formed. Then when you become an adult, it is completely up to you to relearn, unlearn, pick and choose the life you want to live.
I personally think that there is a phase of self discovery between childhood and adulthood. I don’t want to call it adolescence because the phase of adolescence is still too naive and fragile for anyone to realise what how they truly want to live their lives as this phase is heavily tainted with peer pressure. So, I do not believe that self awareness completely reaches a climax at this phase.
I expressed this to my father and he did not take it well…..
For a lot of people, their response kept changing as they got older and I am no exception. At some point I did not even have a valid answer to this question.
The first ambition I remember having was to be a lawyer. I have always been very verbal and as a kid, this made me stand out. The moment I found out the full details that the profession entails (law school, a strong sense of accountability, books and books of different types of law) I completely lost interest.
At some point, I wanted to be a nurse because it is such an altruistic profession and my grandma (may her soul rest well) was a nurse. She accomplished a lot in her lifetime and it was really admirable. I also remember my mum encouraging me to go down this path but I was worried about spending life around illnesses, so I did not really foster my interest in nursing as a profession.
Then it was time to go to university and I had to choose a course to study for my bachelors. If I will be honest with you, I did not do much of a research before settling on computer science. I was really amazed at the power of technology, it seemed like magic to me at that point. Honestly, I just wanted to be a part of the magic.
After my first year I realised that, good knowledge of a few programming languages would be advantageous for a successful and thriving career in the tech industry and programming wasn’t really my strength. At this point, my interests had started shifting towards media and content creation. So I started a youtube channel and was determined to switch courses for my masters degree.
For my masters degree, I chose corporate communications and public relations and I enjoyed every bit of it. I finally felt like I was on the right path. After my graduation, I interned for one year at a reputable PR agency and learned a lot about the industry. Then my internship was over and I wasn’t retained at this company. With pressure from many changes that I was facing in also my personal life, I started to confront all my life choices leading up to that point.
I honestly did not know what to do with my life. When filling out forms, I just leave the ‘Profession’ part blank. I chose to start a small business in event planning and crafts decorations as a side hustle while I continue to push my career in media and public relations. The pandemic hit and events literally came to a halt so I had to go back to my drawing board to be realistic about my career prospects. I have been asking myself “How will I have two solid degrees with ample experience but still be broke and jobless?”.
We are not sure how long our lives are destined to be for, but one thing for certain is that nobody wants to live a miserable life. At some point, I stopped focusing on what I wanted to do for a profession and started to get to know myself better to realise what I enjoy doing and what I do not.
So I decided to open up my mind to as many possibilities, to make a list of the skills and education I have attained so far, where my strengths lie and my requirements for whatever profession I want to settle into. These are five key influences to my decision: It should support remote work. The stress should be limited. It should be a future-proof path (taking into account the new normal based on the pandemic). I should be able to apply my current education, knowledge, skills and strength. It should be a career path that supports growth and promotions.
One thing that I have fully come to realise is that, Life is what you make it and this also applies to building a career. It has to be intentional if not, you will end up moving around in circles like me. After weeks of research, reading articles and all; I chose to redirect my career path. Bold step, right? I know.
I expressed this to my father and he did not take it well, saying that since I graduated “nothing concrete has been achieved”. As painful as this criticism was, I took it quite well because it has a hint of truth to it in terms of accolades and accomplishment. In an African home, from the moment you are done with your secondary education or graduate school, you are expected to start making your way to success in a chosen career. No one is going to listen to anything else that you have to say until you have a full time job that pays.
I turn 25 in a few weeks. I might not be the richest or most accomplished in life, but I am really grateful for where I am at and I am proud of myself.
It is almost like we are sucked into a checklist vacuum of accomplishments that cannot be opted out of. The moment one expresses an interest in following a path of self discovery or anything that doesn’t involve the regular 9-5, they are referred to as wayward and lost. I wish this wasn’t the case, but it is our reality. I have noticed this lack of empathy towards education and career accomplishments among African parents. A part of me thinks that this pressure is passed down from what that they felt in the process of accomplishing their own goals.
Since I graduated, I have not really cared about accolades and accomplishments to be very honest. I have known that I would eventually have to settle into a career but I did not want to make this a sporadic decision as I have done all my life, I really wanted it to be a conscious one. I have been too focused on self discovery as I believe it is a strong foundation to build any accomplishment on. The lack of empathy was a bit disappointing, but what’s new?
I believe that before one can decide what they want to do with their lives as a profession, they actually need to truly know who they are and make a decision based on self knowledge. So in order to know what you want to be when you grow up, you need to fully understand your growth. This is just my opinion anyway.
I turn 25 in a few weeks. I might not be the richest or most accomplished in life, but I am really grateful for where I am at and I am proud of myself. My journey might be different but I accept everything that makes me the way I am and I trust the process.
I am currently self learning Product Design with the hopes of going in the MarTech direction. Right now I am too focused on developing my skills enough to design ample projects for a good portfolio that can support career growth. Hopefully along the line, this would improve my design knowledge to support all my hobbies and side projects in events styling, content creation and arts & crafts.
How did you handle Major Career Choices? What mindset and habits did you use to survive that phase? Whether you have to have not, leave a comment. I would love to hear your opinions.
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