I remember when I was 21. I just lied, I actually don’t, at least not so vividly. I have had to scan through many files in my archive to retrieve that memory. And considering I am just 29, I don’t know what will be of my memories when I am 50. But what I remember so well is that I was in the final year of my under graduate and I was worried about the future. I mean, from lecturers trying to give us a glimpse of how the world of work is, with the tough projects and assignments, and the threats attached to not delivering them before the deadlines or failing the course work if you hadn’t read or attended class.
I thought life was tough then, and the future gave me the creeps. I wondered what kind of job I will do – I mean, then I was deep in the Information Technology (IT) zone – Networking and Project Management. I thought I have to stick to what I have studied. And so to the insistence of my parents (God bless their hearts), I even did additional certificate and diploma courses to just ensure I was ahead of my game. And to some extent I truly was. It bored the hell out of my mind, but I had stick to my guns. Although honestly, I couldn’t see my future in the field, despite me having put so much effort in being educated in that field – and it scared me. If at this point you asked me where I saw myself in 10… actually, let’s even reduce it to 5 years, it was quite bleak.
I thought life was tough then, and the future still gave me the creeps. On one end the world was telling me that you can always change your mind when it’s not working for you – and then, it clearly wasn’t. On the other end, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do if that wasn’t it – education had given me a cushion. I knew I would be good at it because I had learned it, but it didn’t make me feel like I was doing something fitting, at least for myself. And so one day, I started blogging, just for kicks. And because I enjoyed it so much, I worked towards developing authentic read-worthy content and maintaining consistency in my postings. And through the blog, a former colleague and friend introduced me to a new work opportunity that had me using skills I never even knew I had in me – “creative writing” and content development.
I was so excited about it, but at the same time, so scared because it put me in a vulnerable place. First, it was something I hadn’t done before. Second, it was a new and empty space and I was trying to fill it up with my greenness. My education played a great role, because I would apply a lot of the fundamentals I learnt there. When you write anything for the public – whether for work or personal consumption, you could easily face criticism for what you’ve have created, or your opinions could be disapproved or misunderstood – and it scared me to put my thoughts out there especially in writing. I mean people were going to read what I write, and I have no control over what they think about it.
I voice my opinions on different things. I revel in having disagreements and amicably arguing them out based on our beliefs and knowledge on the said subject – and sometimes we end up agreeing to disagree. But there’s something about writing it down. No one budges in, no one has a reaction of it up until the moment they’ve read it and consumed it. And that’s what scared me the most, because I wondered (I still do), what do they think? What’s their take on this and that? And I don’t know, until someone mentions it or we have a discussion on it. Gradually, I could see a future in this. It gave me some sort of inexplicable fulfillment. And by then I was 23.
I thought life was tough then, and the future still gave me creeps. Since I had found “my thing”, I still wondered how it will translate into my workings, which is what I’ve been exploring. I wondered how I’ll take it to the next level, and how it will enable me to grow both in my career and in my personal life – because in essence, it’s my life. It’s now a part of who I am. I still wondered about the places I would work, the people I would work with, how much I would earn, where I would live, what car I would drive (I still don’t have a car by the way, with no good reason, hangs head in shame). And in time, everything just falls into place, and it always finds me working. I put my mind, my heart and my soul into it. Because if you don’t do it well or if you don’t put everything into anything that you do, who will?
And now that I am 29 (gah!), I look at my grandparents, my parents, my older relatives and friends, and I think they have been so blessed to see life in its full cycle. See it for what it is – the deep struggles, the joys, the tough times, the good times and the in betweens. And it’s thorough these journeys that even if the future gives us the creeps (more often than not), we see that if they made it through the various stages of life, and they’re still going strong and they’re so positive about their experiences, regardless of the outcome, then we can also do this. And for that reason alone, I know that it’s hopeful, accommodating and achievable.
Well, today I’m here to tell a 21 year old somewhere, who’s so worried about the future that,
Most of us don’t have it worked out. We didn’t (and still don’t) know what it holds, but we just do, and we keep going. We do what we can with what we have, and then the future meets us while we’re at it.
Grab a mentor, whether it’s a sister, a brother, a parent, a relative, a colleague or someone you look up to today and have them share with you their stories – ask them to tell you about their youth, and how they treaded through it. There’s some comfort in hearing people’s stories, they keep you going. They show you that you’re not alone in the journey of life – some things they’ve gone through, some they haven’t (most times they know someone who has). When you have a shoulder to lean on, it becomes somewhat manageable. Try it out and you’ll see.
Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*