I am a person who likes order. I have nothing whatsoever against systems; except for those that I feel do not work for me.
For people like me, deciding whether or not to join a system is usually a very big task. Take for instance joining my current place of employment. I needed to be sure; not that the place was suited for me, but that I was suited for the place. I did not want to be the employee who after one year or so, both you and the employer are wondering what on earth they were thinking. Naturally, I want to make things I come into contact with better. I also did not want to be a disappointment /embarrassment to all those that had pushed the process of getting that particular job along. I wanted to be sure, at least to a certain degree, that come what may, even after time had passed, I would still wake up daily and give 100%. I did not want to fail. So I weighed my options carefully, realistically and rationally and after what I feel was a thorough brain-storm session, it was decided that yes indeed, this employment would be advantageous to all those involved.
There has never been a moment in my life when I have regretted that decision. However, there have been several moments where I have forgotten what drove me to it in the first place. From a young age, it was always clear that I was following a different path in life. For some reason what I wanted was in direct and complete contrast to what everyone around me wanted. I questioned the way of things and I tried to map out my own path ‘too early in life’. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase ‘That is not how things are done’ over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I was absolutely organized, obsessive about it even, just not organized about the things I was supposed to be organized about; just imagine preparing a very exquisite fish dish to perfection only to be told it was supposed to be beef. If you’re a young girl growing up in Africa, you can imagine the chaos that breaks out whenever you stray from the path, especially if it is a path that everyone else has walked with reasonable ease.
Needless to say, it became a recipe for endless internal turmoil; trying to choose between doing what was expected of me and following my gut. I started to wonder if there indeed was something the matter with me. I started to mould myself after those I thought were doing it right. I tried to walk the way they walked and talk the way they talk and be the way they were. We all know how that story ends; major major blow out.
It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that there were other people who thought the way I thought; yes they lived a bit of a distance from where I stayed but hey, I wasn’t crazy, or at least I wasn’t the only crazy one. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that it’s OK to find another way out of the a thousand to kill a rat. I realized that in some places, this was something to be celebrated, it was all a matter of perspective. I also learnt that there is always a place of compromise; a system that could be designed to satisfactorily fit both extremes. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized what exactly it was that drove me to these unconventional ways.
It wasn’t because I didn’t know how to follow the already set procedures. It also wasn’t because I did not think the systems in place would not work. The reason was I wanted something…richer. Something with more. I wanted something that required my full dedication, something that would utilize the raging passion I had. I was curious about life. The more I knew, the more I wanted to know. I wanted something that would acknowledge my growth as an individual, something that would tickle my imagination; challenge me to think harder. I wanted to see the bigger picture, to be a part of something bigger. Something more lasting...
Over the years, I have learnt to harness this energy and turn it into being productive in whatever I am working on at that moment. Sometimes it works; it makes me spring out of bed in the morning and puts a bounce in my step and a twinkle in my eyes throughout the day. On those days, when passion is high and morale is at its best, I could probably sell water to an islander. But I’ve come to realize that there will be other days; those other days when you can’t bring yourself to remember why you started doing what you are doing in the first place. It’s on those days that I have to remember that in spite of everything, I still want to be part of that something bigger; something more meaningful and richer. It’s on those days that I need to remember that I, and only I, can decide whether I get to do that and how I live a life that will get me to that point.