Growing up, all of us had an inner creative and I know for a fact that I dreamed of being a highly paid advertiser the likes of those in “Mad Men”. But in Nigeria at least, most of our parents would hear about these dreams and the speech would start. In my best old-school Nigerian dad voice; “Why don’t you study Engineering?” and I would usually respond with “But that’s not what I want to do” and the diatribe would go on and on about how I want to paint signs on the side of the road for a living and that kind of suffer head is not a good plan (add in a tone my parents heavy sarcasm with added laughter just to drive the point home).
So at the end of the day, we are usually reminded who pays the fees and tend to buckle. We go to Uni and study engineering, medicine, law or for the lucky or hard headed, mass comm, thinking that after all the fuss that was made; a freshly mown career path is waiting for us on the other side…. Oh how misguided our youths were.
We go through Uni, and depending on the person, the reading/playing ratio differs, but somehow we eventually come out the other side. Back in our folks day, it was Uni, Service (which actually functioned perfectly for some), then straight into a career, but us lucky new age, MTV generation (I think d next batch will b the “blackberry/skinny jeans generation but that’s a rant for another day) we came out of Uni at a time when a Bachelors degree was as handy as your Jamb or GCSE result, so you had two options; Join the mass hunt for jobs with overly skilled, better qualified people all around you and hope you’re hardcore enough, or join the mass exodus for more qualifications.
Those that bailed sharply for their masters slowly found out that masters degrees seem to be like pure-water, they come in different types and are very useful, but they really are everywhere. And those that didn’t found out the hard way that unless they had an uncle working in a “conglomo” to let them in or parents to foot the bill for the building of their very own empire, they would literally have to start from the ground up.
Personally I have really seen life, from working in a company that made me do all the work promising me the world and then the MD fleeing to another country without paying me 6months salary, to another company that had me designing their template then hiring a cheaper guy to use it. It’s not easy.
But then who ever said it would be, was lying or just in denial. Life goes on and the hard times continue, we find everyday brings with it a new challenge, and whether you were a 1st class electrical engineer with a masters in business admin or a 3rd class geodetic engineer from IMSU, the working world is bound to throw you for a loop. There are so many people I know that didn’t play at all in Uni and where as focused as a zombie is on brains, but found it hard to find their footing once in the real world. And on the flip side there were some that treated Uni as a 5 year spring break session in Miami and found kick ass jobs right away. So there really isn’t a hard and fast rule these days, although some hard-work ethics may help.
All those creative people that ended up as lawyers or doctors never truly lost sight of that inner creativity, many spent time making jewelry or printing shirts and posters in Uni to make that extra buck and after Uni just left it all behind and got on with life. Some stuck with it, leaving their BSc behind and found themselves in media or art inclined businesses, while others just took what they could get. But I think things are changing, people are realizing the potential of doing what you love. A friend recently told me how her father that used to drive her onto the “big boys” career path had a discussion with her the other day about how if she wants to be a clothing designer, he can hook her up with manufacturers in Paris and that if she has a dream then she should go for it.
This conversation was what spurred me on to write this, because I have been hearing more of the same thing recently; people’s parents who were sticklers for “Study this and, read that” all of a sudden are realizing that the world really isn’t the same place it used to be. Those days’ doctors were one of the most respected and well paid people around, but now I know more graphic artists that are making it big.
The times are changing and I can imagine in the near future when a child says “I want to be a writer” their Nigerian parents will nurture that need and keep driving the child onwards and even if they change their mind a million times (like children do), their parents would be there to guide along life’s crooked and treacherous paths.
Ok, it’s disclaimer time. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are loads of parents out there that nurture their children’s creative talents or even instill some in them but what we have to remember is that we are the future and we will have to make a lot of those tough decisions soon. Most parents that push their children into Law or Engineering are doing because they want what is best for them, but usually the result is children graduating with a BSc in what they didn’t want to do and saying, “Ok so I’ve done what you want, now it’s time to do what I want to do”. It would be a mistake to think that it was a waste of 4 or 5 years in a course they didn’t care much for but they grew up in that time and became who they would be for the rest of their lives, so all in all, something was gained.
Now go on and think about it, what did you want to be and what are you doing now? It’s not meant to be a glass half empty exercise it’s just me trying to let you know it’s never too late. Add aspects of what you like in your job or even in your everyday life, you like creativity, fiddle with power point for the next presentation, design the new company cards, talk to the marketing department about your ideas for a radio jingle, there are loads of ways. With this, you are bound to find more happiness at work and in life and trust me we all need some of that, besides, before you get all complacent or high and mighty, you’re eventually going to be the one with the job of raising a child and then you’ll have to tell your own kids what to do.