As children, we were expected to have dreams and goals and this was strongly emphasized whenever a member of the family asked what we wanted to be in the future or when we grew up. The answers to this question were endless but only a specific kind of answers earned you candy or gifts from a visiting relative.
Traditional career interests like medicine or law were met with support and encouragement while the non-traditional ones like music were discouraged & abhorred and I learnt from an early age to immediately say lawyer whenever the inevitable question was asked. Now that we are adults, the pressures of society have not eased up at all and our parents still expect us to develop careers with the same standards as they did even in a world that continues to change everyday.
My father was an accomplished medical doctor growing up so there was a lot of pressure for me to join the medical field or excel in class just like he had and while it seemed like a source of motivation at first, it slowly started to weigh me down. I found myself concentrating on science subjects and ignoring the arts even though I found them more interesting and as this interest grew and manifested in the clubs I joined or the friends I made, so did the feeling that I was a disappointment. My passion for writing and cooking flourished the most but every time I hinted at a career in that direction, my father quickly dismissed it and told me that such jobs wouldn’t pay the bills and therefore could only be hobbies.
At the end of my junior level of high school, I decided to take up biology and chemistry even though I loved literature to death and already craved a career in the arts sector. I struggled in class due to the lack of interest and the growing depression from having to mask how I really felt and even started attending literature classes in the place of chemistry.
After high school, I applied and got admitted for a course in human nutrition & dietetics not because I was interested but because I was eligible for it. I begged my father to send me straight to culinary school so that I could start my journey as a chef but he said he couldn’t let me only have an “informal” education and I would need to at least be a nutritionist first before I ventured into such interests. After several failed attempts at making him understand that a good culinary school would offer me quality education, I decided to get through with the course as it seemed to be the only way to gain his approval. Between the pressure to excel in class and other problems, I suffered from depression & PTSD and dropped out after only two of the four years.
Depression and PTSD are just some of the few consequences that pressure from society can bring about but that it’s how you move forward from the situation that defines who you are. After surviving depression, I decided to give myself a fresh start, picked new interests and began my career as as creative focused on web development, writing, mental health and the culinary arts (by God’s grace the list is growing everyday). Even though this decision cost me both emotional and financial support from my family, I would never take it back because I know and believe that I can make it.
Starting school all over again has been totally worth it and enlightening plus I get to do something I love all day, writing again has also strongly contributed to the bounce in my stride aside from being therapeutical. I now finally have the chance to be all that I can be.
Sometimes it takes a stable head space for one to move forward positively and achieve their goals, identifying and building a career can be difficult especially if its non-traditional but join me this week as I explore the journey of creatives and a lot more courtesy of the Winter ABC festival. I hope that you don’t give up and that my story gives you hope that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Have the courage to follow your heart and intuitionSteve Jobs
Till next time,