Since returning from travelling, I have been doing a variety of things with my time; buying and selling items on eBay, making and selling bhangra props, and I have now tried my hand at blogging (thanks naujawani!) My biggest commitment though has been to join my friend’s startup company, Impulse. My role there is heavily linked to social media and so I have been gaining an understanding of the different tools, embarking on learning how we can utilise each one to help Impulse grow. We are still awaiting a full working platform for this, but the upside is I feel less like a number and more like somebody who has a real purpose with the hope and ambition to persist with the idea when it finally launches. In the corporate world, if the project you’re working on doesn’t come to fruition, you just leave it and move onto the next one. I don’t have that luxury anymore!
In the meantime while Impulse prepares for launch, I am looking to gain experience in the social media world and have been searching for internships or temp jobs. This is helpful because through each job criteria, description and experience wanted, I am discovering what I need to attain. And encountering people currently working in this realm has helped to make my concerns about the risk of going into something new a whole lot smaller. Compared to when I jumped into the corporate world previously, this has helped me to decide if this is what I really want to do, and so far I like what I see thankfully. Acquiring numerous skills and a better understanding has been eye opening from learning how video editing works to the surprisingly deep and far reaching extent of social media (it’s not as easy as posting a few things on Instagram or Facebook and people come flocking towards you!) There’s really hard planning and strategies deployed to gain people’s attention, making the job more challenging than ever as everyone seems to be throwing their brand into the social media pool. It’s all about how creative you can be with your ideas and executing it in such a way that reflects this.
But how do I articulate these changes and developments in my career to the elders in my family? I highly doubt they can envisage a job where I work from my laptop all the time, and not for an actual full time employer. I think the lines became blurred when I said I’m not in a paid or stable job and that my hours are sort of when I want to work and how long I want to work for (as it currently stands, although this will change eventually). I no longer wear a suit and tie for work, I dress very casually when I’m out and about and it just goes completely against the grain of what a normal job looks like in their eyes. I will admit that I have found it difficult talking to my nani or dad about what I am currently doing; I feel that they only see success as being in a job which is well known and steady. It’s tough talking to them when they don’t understand what you do day to day. They keep asking “why haven’t you got a job yet?” and I reply, “I do, but it’s not paying yet, and may not be for a while, if ever, if things don’t go to plan – money isn’t everything.” So why doesn’t that seem to mean anything to them? I suppose this boils down to the migrant mentality the elder generation has. Speaking from a very broad perspective, brown families left their own village or home and built a new life in completely new surroundings, thousands of miles away from home. They moved over here with the hopes of more financial gain and a better way of life for their existing and future family. A job was a job and as well as building a life here, money was sent back to their home village. You would be grateful to take any paying job that would have you and become a cog in the machine where needed. If someone asked us Millenials to do the same today, we would perhaps either laugh openly, or drop a few bricks out of fear of making a life changing decision of that magnitude. This could be why my nani or dad don’t understand the decisions I have taken, but also why I don’t think their questions come from a bad place. They can only draw on their own experiences and how unforgiving the world was for them, and I really appreciate their concern even if they show it in a less than obvious way. I think it’s fair to say that sometimes elder members of the family find it difficult to express the emotion they actually want to convey in the moment.
In terms of a job I feel it’s right to ask yourself: “is what I do defining me?” Thinking back on how I was in the corporate world, I saw the person I had become and didn’t want that to be a true reflection of who I am. And if you have to be that persona every day or put on an act to be someone you’re not, then inevitably those habits will become part of your everyday social persona away from the workplace. If you’re going through the same thoughts and trying to find out what you want to do, I really encourage you to take the risk and make a change now. Honestly. Time is of the essence. Maybe I kept myself in my old job longer than needed, but there was rationale behind it – I needed enough money to go and see the world, come back and still keep myself ticking over. That being said, please don’t leave it all without a plan or idea of what you want to do next. I came back knowing that there was this and that I could do to keep me occupied. However, it was only until very recently (as recently as September perhaps) where I have solidified what I want to do, planned out short and long term goals of how I want to get it, and now I can truly go after them. I initially went through a rut, but I wasn’t sharing this weakness with many people because I always wanted people to perceive that I knew what I was doing (a by-product of my days in the corporate world). It was only because I am fortunate to have some fantastic people around me that helped pull me out of my poor mind-set and uplift me to remember that I hold all the cards. It’s not a weakness to show your concerns or to just say, “Help, I don’t know what I’m doing. I think I’ve made the wrong choice”. This thought hounded me for a long time, but when I faced up to it, planned some stuff out and gave myself some deadlines, goals and direction, questions began to fade away. Self-doubt will always arise, but I think it’s normal and it shows you’re on the right pathway from doing something completely out of your comfort zone or skill set.
I hope that this post has empowered you to actually go out there and make a change to do what you love on a daily basis. I think it’s fair to say I am still trying to find my own feet and belonging in what I truly enjoy, but I can say hand on heart I am happier than I was in the corporate world. It’s more about working for myself instead of working at a desk for a company which can easily replace you if needed. You can sit at a desk for 8 hours and do nothing, but still get paid a salary. But now it’s all on me to decide what I want to do, and only I can blame myself if things aren’t working out. I don’t want any regrets later on in life about not taking a risk to do something like this now. A normal 9–5 job will always be available if I want to get back into it. The impact on your mental health and why happiness is crucial to figuring out what you want to do next, is an important discovery I have made on this journey. In my final piece I’ll be sharing my thoughts on that along with why it is such a taboo subject in brown communities, along with a few experiences shared from my travels.