If you were to ask me about my education, skills and aims five years ago, I would have given you the standard response, i.e. Bachelors in Blah Blah blah, well versed in XYZ and hope to change the world by the time I was thirty and retire into obscurity soon after. Idealistic? Definitely. Plausible? Maybe. I’m much closer to thirty today, I still hold my blah blah degree and continued to be well versed in XYZ, my aims however have shifted considerably.
While maturity, relationships and life altering circumstances have definitely influenced my world view, it’s the growing number of horizons laid out before me, causing me to take my original, bullet proof, ten-year plan and run it through the shredder of my mind’s eye. Why would I do something so idiotic? Well, the long and short of it is, my skill set is no longer limited to what I learnt in school and college. In fact, some of my skills are completely outside my original educational background. Hence, giving me the knowledge base, if I so desired, to pursue a completely new career path.
This may not be a new phenomenon. The world is filled with tales of accountants becoming surfers, surfers becoming rock stars, rock stars becoming porn stars and porn stars becoming accountants. However, if these stories were among one in a hundred, twenty years ago, they’re probably one in tentoday. It’s not as if a massive epiphany has swept across the globe, while that would be an awesome prospect, the reasons are much more cumulative.
For instance, I recently completed a stint at a production house start-up. I was hired based on my skills as a writer and because I was annoying enough to keep asking for the job. In the one year I was part of the company, apart from enjoying many afternoon naps, plenty of time on Facebook and increasing my annoying levels from ‘pleasant’ to ‘quite’- I expanded my role far beyond what a writer was expected to do.
This was no accident; the founders were acutely aware to keep up with the competition – you needed to be able to wear multiple hats at a moment’s notice. For this very reason my role was ‘Creative Producer’, a broad term encompassing both the objective and subjective requirements of the advertising film industry.
The internet, the wonderful ever- evolving creature it is, has contributed exponentially to this widening knowledge base of skills. We can sign up for any class, watch any video, read any article and debate with people from half way across the globe. Most of the time to insult fat twelve year olds jerking off in their parent’s basements, but debate none the less.
We’re a global community remember? Everyone has an opinion, some nice, some intelligent, some mean, some down-right hateful, but we have to respect all of them. A company no longer is a cubicle with a parking space. If I want to manufacture and sell highly specialized pink coloured condoms exclusively online, then that’s my prerogative.In essence, the start-up boom has given rise to the ‘Human Swiss Army Knife’.
Companies like the one I worked for are competing with thousands of others just like it. In a world where cost-cutting and high quality innovations are forced to marry and somehow produce bastard offspring of great products with even greater shelf life, leaving little room for failure. Therefore, the human resource element cannot just be educated in XYZ, it needs to be aware, in some cases, even verse in the entire alphabet. The result – a generation of individuals who zip through the system, much more experienced and knowledgeable and most importantly - driven.
Why driven? Because everyone’s a butterfly and they deserve to spread their wings and fly. It’s an optimistic can-do attitude recent generationshave grown up with. So many of us young people are branching off to explore their potentials, teaching and learning over the internet, saying ‘fuck this, I’m going to work from home’ and ‘I can do better’. It’s the reason the start-up boom exists, it’s the reason competition has never been higher, it’s incredibly optimistic and it’s so so dangerous.
Imagine you’re in a circular room. There are two doors, each representing individual career paths. Above the doors is a digital clock, representing your life time. The clock starts to move. A new door appears. The clock picks up speed. A fourth door appears. Soon a fifth. Sixth. Seventh. The clock is moving very fast now. You start spinning around the room trying to keep track of the doors. The clock is indecipherable.
You’re spinning out of control. Dizzy. You fall. Confused. Disoriented. Throw-up. Black out. Spoilt for choice, directionless and thoroughly unsure of where we want to go. A harsh reality of the exuberant optimism plaguing the world. Let’s not forget the lopsided attrition of employability in various sectors, where the over-qualified are underpaid and unemployable, while the under-qualified are switching jobs faster than a game of Chinese Checkers on speed.
Surely there has to be accountability? Checks and Balances? It’s only temporary right? Well… no, not really. We have built a fantasy world of me me me! We are due for a course correction. Whether it’s economic, political or social, it doesn’t really matter. It’s going to happen and it’s not going to be pretty. The only people who are morally responsible enough to see through this mess, is ourselves. We need to understand ourselves for who we are, what we are capable of and what we’re not. Otherwise we’ll continue to spiral into the dark abyss of ourselves. But hey! What do I know, I just quit my job so I can spread my wings and fly!