It’s a little more than a month since I finished my undergraduate studies. Life so far has been an insipid mix of sleeping, binge watching series and wondering where the folks at the national service secretariat are going to post you to. Well some of it has not been too drab. When you have a collection of back to back episodes of a good series, the day becomes really exciting. Watching episodes 9 and 10 of Game of Thrones Season 6 was a thrill. Who could have seen Cersei Lannister pull that epic palace coup?
The wait for national service was a bit traumatizing for most people. You either get a foot in the door somewhere good or you feel doomed for life. Four years of our undergraduate studies conditioned our minds for a life of suit and tie and nothing else. You either work in a bank or at the front desk of a “formal” establishment where you can take Snapchat friendly pictures or you have failed at life. That is why most of the seminars we attended focused on teaching us how to write CVs.
But what if that is not the life you desire? What if what you want for yourself is something at odds with the status quo definition of success? Are you free to hawk and market something you created in the market after 4 years of university without being seen as a failure? Can you choose to not go down the conventional pipeline of high school to university, start something on your own and still not be looked at with askance?
Yesterday evening, I saw a mate from high school driving a Trotro. The first thing that popped up in my mind was “he’s failed at life” after all what he was doing was not captured in the things our society encapsulated as successful. Then I thought deeper. His colleagues (myself included) are waiting on government’s 350cedis a month while he can easily make more than a 100 cedis each day.
We talk about entrepreneurship and always imagine a suit and tie life or worse, a Mark Zuckerberg ash tee shirt routine running a tech startup. But what’s not entrepreneurial about running a bus business and living life on your own terms? After we are done running errands under the guise of serving our nation, he will still be driving his Trotro and with fiscal prudence, might even be on his way to owning a car or two while more than 90% of us will identify as Unemployed Graduates.
What impressed me the most was the joy with which he went about his work. Not bothered by the shame others in his shoes would have cowered under after seeing a mate from high school, he went about his work without a bother. I have never been so proud of a Trotro driver like I was yesterday.
Dreaming big does not necessarily mean envisioning a life at the top of a Fortune 500 company. I think it is really cool to aspire to such heights but it must not necessarily be in a suit and tie setting. For this mate of mine, aspiring to be the owner of the biggest transport company in Ghana is equivalent to dreaming big. The one wanting to head Deloitte & Touche has nothing on him in the regard.
We cannot all be the movers and shakers of industry. For every Carnegie or Rockefeller, there will be an equally hardworking and successful Jon Doe whose work is very essential to everyone’s life but does not get celebrated enough.