I have recently read the article “We the restless” by Fatima Avila and it speaks very closely of how I feel: Restless. I wish to tread a path similar to Fatima: have 2 years of work experience in my country, take graduate studies abroad while traveling a lot and then eventually work with an international and multi-cultural group of people. Right now I’m just soaking up all kinds of opportunities to build a resume of experience but I always have that general kick of wanderlust. I want to travel. I want to meet strangers. I want to discover all the new things. All these things come with the pressure to be among the best in the field I want to specialize in because merely “graduating” is no longer the key to my dream career. My undergraduate degree is a starting point but there’s so much more I need to achieve before I get there.
“The youth of today knows the world’s current expectations and we find ourselves packing in more and more activities into our profile. We do studying, part-time jobs, voluntary roles, sports, society membership and travel simultaneously. After all, so much is expected of us so soon and we give our best to comply. And sometimes, even if you fulfill all that, you still might not get the job if you do not have the right passport.”
– We the restless, Fatima Avila
I feel restless because in a way the world is also ruthless: the career path I’ve chosen caters to an audience wider than the local scene thus the competition is greater. It’s a global competition out there and there’s no room for mediocrity. I need a global perspective. But for that I need to be well-traveled and have a lot, lot of experience. Oftentimes education or exposure abroad is a requirement. It’s the world setting our standards now: Facebook, Mozilla Firefox, Google, Apple — these are only some of the many companies that started out small but by young people who were either still in college or who have just graduated that it feels like I should have had achieved something great by the time I’m 20. But I’m 22 already with no awards to boast of and oftentimes I just feel like I’m not good enough; that I have to reach a certain level fast.
I know I’m from a generation that is used to instant gratification but when it comes to building my career, I know it takes time. I’m currently working on the usual two-year experience requirement for most graduate schools but some days time feels a little slow. I guess I’m just excited to get there. There’s so much to do though and much more to learn.
The projects at my 8-5pm job are no longer enough as work experience. Trying to get involved with local groups and meeting up with new people, partnering with them and helping out towards a common cause is only one of the ways in which I can constantly learn about other disciples of design and even other industries related to it. I go home and then continue interacting with other people online through twitter, discussions, Facebook groups, meet-ups and all these things. It’s a digital world and everything is so fast-paced that I need to keep up with a myriad of topics, news, and my friends’ personal lives. Connecting with people from different countries has become so important that keeping to my office desk and to my city seems to be limiting myself. Networking (and a public display of skills) can really bring you to places and as exciting as the possibilities are, the path to my “dream career” is tougher. Ruthless, yes, but exciting. “Be more and do more” might sound cliche, but it is the kind of expectation that hangs over our generation.
Despite the pressure though, I think what I should focus on is to simply exceed myself. Not anyone else. I don’t have to feel so down when I think about what others have achieved at my age. After all, we all work on a different pace and “being great” might not be happening to me now, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen to me in the future. The year is still young. It’s only February and there are much more things waiting to happen. The global pressure is an effective driving force for me to do my best. Guess what, world? Challenge accepted!