Do you have to study to become Miss South Africa?
This question came from my 9 year old, listening to a discussion on early morning 94.7, while snaking through Weltevreden Park’s backroads to school. #MyRunnerupCareer. Listeners phoned in about their career changes and the careers they would not mind having. One lady was an engineer who realised her passion was actually in teaching. A friend of mine has, after twenty years, given up her career in tourism to become a swimming instructor, aiming also to spend more time with her young children. My 12 year old’s future career path has gone from actress and waitress (cause actors don’t make money), to novelist. This morning she announced she no longer wants to be a doctor, it is grose to “cut people open”. She now wants to work in an office.
“Mommy, did you go and study?”,
the next question came. And I proceeded telling them about my enticing career as a Public Relations officer. Organising events, dealing with the media, writing articles for newsletters, going on conferences, all the glamorous things I use to get such a rush from doing.
In my opinion, in the 80’s and 90’s, we were very much boxed in by society. Young men joined the army after school, and two years later they studied to become lawyers, doctors, engineers. Girls went to university to study nursing or teaching, those were the main career choices. And that is what my cousin studied – teaching – she lost interest very quickly. Being the creative person she is, she should have become a graphic designer, a make-up artist or a chef. But those careers were not “out there”, they were part of the unknown. They didn’t fit into the “norm” boxes.
Many psychometric tests later, my career guidelines were “to work with people” and “good with languages”. Great, neither my parents or I, were any wiser. One day, in a public bathroom, I said “merci” (thank you) to a french lady I was making small talk with, instead of “au revoir” (goodbye). Ten days in Portugal I managed three Portuguese words, “Ola”, “obrigado” and “tchau”. Wow…. Languages, you said? Apart from English and Afrikaans, which I grew up with, my language skills are shockingly limited. My domestic commented this morning that I looked like a jockey, with my jeans and long, brown boots. That career never crossed my mind?!
My love for writing was always the one constant in my life though. Apart from History, break and PE (no jokes), creative writing was my favourite activity at school. I loved playing around with words and letting my imagination take flight. Making up stories of how certain scenarios in my life, could turn out differently. One of my best friends in high school actually typed up my first novel for me. And an art student class friend, drew the front cover. The fantasies of a teenage girl actually being liked by the boy she was crazy about. In my book I could be anything and everything I wanted to be. It was kind of magical. When I read it now, it is so lame, but it is one of my biggest treasures. Hanli actually spent months typing up chapter after chapter as I completed each one.
I was not able to study Journalism, and in the 90’s GAP years were unheard of. I studied Public Relations instead and I must admit, I did have an exciting career and experienced many interesting things. Sometimes I just wish I could write that naïve 20 year old “me”, a letter.
“You are very junior, shut up and cut out invites and make those RSVP phonecalls with a smile in your voice.
Don’t date anyone from the office in at least the first year
It is probably not the best idea to wear a Wonderbra and low cut shirt to work
Stay away from office gossip, it never ends well
Don’t stay in a job where you are desperately unhappy
Chip sandwiches will make you fat”
Technology has changed our world drastically and it an ongoing process. We have to change the way we think and do constantly. Handing out pamplets at the side of the road advertising your handmade jewellery? Not good enough – you need to use instagram and facebook and create a website and have followers on Twitter. You want to get your singing career off the ground? Youtube is your friend and you need hits and likes and shares to get your name up there in neon lights.
Our lives are filled with many dreams. Some are fantasies and as unrealistic as flying unicorns through marshmellow skies. And other dreams are closer than we even realise. I think most of us have the same challenge though.
How do we actually get there? And often life happens while we are making other plans