Sunday, October 25, 2015

Out of the Box



I spent my first 18 years immersed in an educational (and social) system that did little to encourage creativity. What subjects did I take for A levels? Economics, Chemistry, and Further Maths. That's not to say that I didn't do well in these classes, or that I didn't enjoy them, because I did. Heck, I loved Economics, and that's what I got my degree in, despite having the opportunity to change my mind (and the wisdom to know that it would be okay to).

It was expected that our degrees and the careers we chose would follow certain paths that all those before us chose; thinking outside the box wasn't really encouraged. This wasn't just a problem localised at my school; indeed, it was a problem that was facing a larger community in Nairobi. Looking at my secondary school graduating class, I can't think of anyone who chose to pursue further education in something like art, creative writing, or philosophy. That's not to say that no one was interested in these fields; rather, if present, this interest wasn't cultivated or encouraged, and as far as I know, if people expressed desire to pursue their passions, they were told to pick something more 'realistic'.

How many brilliant creative minds have we shut down because we forced them to pursue maths, sciences, or similar fields? Because art is not a 'real' field? 

I'm very fortunate that I'm still writing at this age. While we didn't do much writing for school, I did choose to pursue it personally, from quite a young age. Was this encouraged by my educators and peers? No, not really. Would my writing be at a different level if it had been? Maybe, but I don't think there's much value to be derived from regret; rather, it's best to move forward and see how we can change.

When I came back to Kenya this year, I had somewhat restricted myself to similar in-the-box thinking. I know that I want to be an entrepreneur eventually, but I also know that to be ready for that, I'd like to have more experience and skills. However, what I wrongly assumed is that those experience and skills would be gained at a typical 'desk job', and so that's what I went and found.

There was nothing wrong with the job itself, but I realised that it wasn't the best fit for me. I was trying to make myself conform to a standard I had no business conforming to in the first place. I was trying to live someone else's reality, a reality that I'd been raised to think was right for me.

It took me a while to make the decision, but I quit. In typical Roshni fashion, I did a lot of thinking about this decision, consulted a lot of people, and tried to listen to my head, which told me that change could always come later. Why rush it now? In the end, I did what was right for me, what I probably should have done in the first place; followed my heart now.

Why is it that we force ourselves into these boxes now, so that we can enjoy ourselves later? Here's something we need to realise (to a certain degree of course); later never comes. The excuses we make now can easily become the excuses we make tomorrow that prevent us from stepping forth confidently in the direction of our dreams. If we keep living for tomorrow, how will we ever enjoy today?

So what am I doing now? I'm working (full time) as a consultant. Primarily for a company in the U.K., but also on some independent projects. The work I'm doing is challenging, but I love it! I can officially call myself an intrapreneur. I have creative freedom, the opportunity to learn a lot, and autonomy over what I do. I have the opportunity to learn from a fantastic and hard-working entrepreneur. I now have the time and the flexibility to do more writing and to travel; two things that are very important to me, that I had told myself I would do 'later'. I already feel like I'm growing by leaps and bounds. Will things change in the future? Most probably; change is constant. But for now, I can confidently say that I'm in the right place, at the right moment, doing the right things. 

What have the past few weeks taught me? It's okay to stand up for yourself, to step out of the box society says you should be in - it's okay to follow your heart.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Beauty, Now

This might be the longest that I've gone (in recent times) without writing. Well, not completely without writing, because then I wouldn't be me, would I? A more accurate thing to say would be 'without writing for an audience'. A larger part of that is due to changes that have been occurring in other parts of my life, and inevitably, everything ties back to my writing. More of that in another post though; today, I really want to talk about beauty. And wonder. And the joy of novelty.

Courtesy of Unsplash

When (and where) my parents were growing up, pizza wasn't really a thing. Difficult to fathom for someone like me; pizza is VERY much a thing in my life. Today at tea time (it's really good to be back in Kenya...), I asked my father if he remembered the first time he'd had pizza. He shrugged noncommittally, and said that he didn't. 

Of course, that led me to wonder what it would be like if he (or I) were to try pizza for the first time ever now. Suffice to say, I'd probably be the more excited of the two. 

Has anybody ever asked you what it would be like if you could watch your favourite movie again for the first time? Imagine the joy, the wonder, the discovery, the gradual (or sudden?) knowledge; YES, I love this! 

Now substitute 'movie' with basically anything around us. A smile, A sunset. Your favourite food. Your partner. Falling in love. The depth of sadness. When did we as a society get so desensitised by all around us that we forgot to celebrate the beauty of simple things? 

Two years ago, one of my best friends told me "You make a big deal out of things others take for granted." At that time I felt a little ridiculous, but now I realise she was referring to my tendency to get excited about little things like a cup of tea.

There's more than enough in the world to depress us, to dissuade us, to leave us feeling that life is pointless. But it takes only a little bit of seeking of the world within us and around us to realise that we are surrounded by wondrous beauty and sheer magnitude. Honestly, who could feel pointless then? 



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