Thursday, February 12, 2015

Life As I Know It

Imagine if there were no bees for pollination, or no flowers to be pollinated.
Photo: Pexels
I recall having a conversation with a friend about her friend’s sibling who wanted to return to Nigeria to lecture in a university.

“I can’t believe he wants to that. He has no ambition,” she said.

I replied to the effect that there was nothing wrong with his lecturing at a Nigerian university. If anything, he’d transfer his knowledge to people who may never get the chance to attend an American university.”

Similarly, another friend of mine couldn’t understand why a classmate had turned down a seemingly good offer from a multinational company, opting for a job as a teacher.

In both instances, I understand why they chose ‘less glamourous’ career paths. They were looking for something other than a huge pay check. They sought what could bring fulfilment and meaning to their life.

And maybe that’s the problem with us – accepting other people’s definition of ambition or success, and trying to meet their expectations.

My philosophy is this: If people can support themselves with a job that provides them with a raison detre, then that’s a very good start. The ability to buy a dozen houses and diamond rings doesn’t signify happiness, success, and ambition or a wonderful life, though it may appear so on the outside.

Personally, one car, a 2 bed-room apartment, a holiday trip abroad every year and a career that allows me to follow my passions, make a difference and use my talents, are what I’d consider a successful life. Opulence has never been my cup of tea, however, that’s not to say I can’t or don’t appreciate wealth aesthetically. Given the choice of owning the Mona Lisa and admiring it, I’d rather visit the Louvre to feast my eyes.

My last job was mentally exhausting, offering little or no challenges. The ennui crept in six months of my starting the job, and I felt my brain cells dying every minute I spent on the job.

Did I try seek new challenges? Yes. Did they improve my plight? No.

What was even more disheartening was that there was no going up or the down the ladder in the company, you could only stay put and stagnate - and stagnate is not something I do well. My aversion to it is partly the reason I worked very hard in school to pass courses I didn’t really care for, just so I wouldn’t have to repeat the exams.

Despite the soul-destroying drudgery, I rediscovered my talent for creative writing, which provided a sorely needed outlet. Reading and writing are the reasons I could survive my job of almost 3 years with my mind intact; and now I look forward to media job where I can put my talent to use and pursue my passion.

Discovering one’s passions, finding one’s purpose in life and making a meaningful impact are what most want in life. Which is why my next job is going to have to go beyond what it can for my bank account. It has to fill me up in a way that I can wake up every morning with a smile on my face, even when I know I won’t be paid.

Recently, I watched Oprah’s Master class with Bon Jovi, where he explained the meaning of the line, “Like Frankie said, ‘I did it my way’” in his hit song, It’s My Life. He said Sinatra lived his life as he desired. He sang when he wanted to, and when he caught the acting bug, he acted in movies. In other words, that line means dictate your life. Do the things you want to do; don’t conform to the expectations of anyone. Don’t apologize for standing in your truth.

This, in my opinion, is the key to happiness. If we can just accept that we’ve all been entrusted with a unique purpose, and that we as actors are performing different actions in different acts, then we wouldn’t covet the lives of other actors. Everyone deserves the chance to interpret life as they see it, to go through various stages, and evolve into the humans they were born to be.

…As for me, I’m still evolving.