The last thing I would ever do is belittle anyone’s profession, unless, of course, it involves vices like stealing or killing people. I have no idea, then, why someone thought I did so last week. It made me wonder why we are so vulnerable to the slightest whiff of criticism of our careers.

At this stage in my life, I’ve picked a job that people make fun of all the time, including my dad. Am I insecure about it? No. Do I ask myself whether what I do helps anyone anyway? Yes, I do. When it’s all said and done, whether you are passionate about what you do or not, whether you make a lot of money or not, it should boil down to whether you are actually helping advance a cause that makes life better for someone out there.

I remember back in campus, students would mock each other’s degree courses all the time. For instance, Bachelor of Arts (BA) was dubbed “Being Around”. (Before anyone assumes I am hating on it too, I will be pursuing a Master of Arts next year.) When you were in a certain school, people had certain expectations of you. I am sure it is the case everywhere else. Just like people have certain expectations of you depending on what high school you attended. But you know what? In the end, it is not even about what you pursued in campus or whether you even went to campus. It does not matter what school you went to. Yes, they may say that simply because you went to Alliance you have a better chance getting a certain job because “Busherians are everywhere” but that’s not the case. Yes, there’s a joy in familiarity but if we really are being honest, you only get the job because of who you prove to be, other than the school you attended.

I started this piece, as with many other pieces, days ago in my head, immediately I read a pseudonymous comment I did not approve on this blog. I cannot afford to allow that kind of negativity embedded here. The guy with the pen-name decided to bash me last week for mentioning Land Economics in my Work Wednesday piece. Of all the bits that could ruffle anyone’s feathers, he saw the bit I wrote that I picked Land Economics as my first choice with no interest or information about it. He decided I was hating on the Land Economics fraternity and hence proceeded to hate on what I do.

I decided I was going to write about what it means to achieve something in the world. We all think of achieving different things. What I may want to achieve is totally different from what you may want. I have a quantity surveyor friend who I chat up daily and 99% of the time, I have no idea what he is going on about, but I just pay attention. My parents are teachers, but I have never pictured myself as one. My brother is a budding electrical engineer and every time I look at his notes, I wonder how in the world we were raised in the same house.

The other day I was seated with my special friend in one of those buses to Kikuyu. We sat patiently, waiting for the bus to fill up with passengers at the Westlands bus stop. The driver kept swerving and reversing the bus in all kinds of dangerous ways. He did this with the bus so close to other wobbling buses I got a little piqued. I told my friend that I could understand how skilled you had to be to do this to a bus and not collide into something or someone. I am yet to learn how to drive, you see. And then he said it. He told me that it is the same way a typist types without looking at the keyboard. It’s the same way my QS friend deals with those Microsoft Excel circular references. First time he told me about them I was like “Wharathoz?” with an I-couldn’t-care-less attitude. I only Googled the function after he talked about it again, hours later. It is also the same way I know about stuff in the social media world before he does. We respect each other’s territories like that. I send him trending links, he sends me links to architectural wonders and real estate affairs (and Bored Panda. SMH.)

I know another person close to me. Brilliant dude. Not brilliant in books or spelling or anything but he has a significant amount of knowledge in film. I have laughed him off many times. In my head I thought that he was not being realistic. But then I began to see how he can put together short films, script, direct and all and I began to take him seriously. Of course they may be juvenile ideas (the same way I may look at this blog when I am old and grey and think to myself “Shiku, you had no idea what you were talking about.”) but he knows what he wants and he will get it. All I can do is advise him, perhaps edit his scripts and urge him to seek internships in relevant places.

You will achieve whatever you will yourself to achieve in the vocation you chose. Maybe it chose you but whatever the case, only you can do what you need to do to get to where you want to get to. No one has the right to tell you to be what you don’t want to be. Not even KNEC or JAB. (What is it called nowadays? Yes. KUCCPS – Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service. Thank you, Google.) Even as you sit there for your KCPE or KCSE, remember that and do your best. Yes, those bodies have the power to shake you up real good and you need to accept what they give you as results, but don’t let it chart the course for your entire life.

Don’t drown yourself in a pool of despair when you can self-learn, as my friend put it so well here. You can also repackage yourself. One of the lessons I learnt after I thought my dreams of ever becoming ‘someone’ were dashed is that you need to repackage yourself in line with changes in this dynamic world. If your parents want you to be something you do not want to be, talk it out with them. Maybe they have a point, maybe they don’t but you will never know if you do not talk it out.

Respect a man’s trade. Love your trade. Stick to your lane. Spread the love.WDYDWYD - Why Do You Do What You Do?

Written by Shiku Ngigi

Mum and dad’s daughter. Shouting big sister. Learning to listen. Jesus freak. Recovering tomboy. Mouse potato. Bass addict. Waking up the writer in her.

    5 Comments

  1. Hannah Akinyi October 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm Reply

    Nice 🙂
    Well put.

  2. Samuel October 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm Reply

    Always a pleasure…

  3. mbugua October 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm Reply

    Well said

  4. Billy Adera October 28, 2014 at 10:33 am Reply

    I like

  5. Njeri November 21, 2016 at 11:36 am Reply

    Well, I am in what is known as an ’emerging field’ thanks to the digital world. Many people think all I do is bullshit my way to the next pay cheque because most people do not have a clue on digital marketing yet so I know what it feels like to have people look down on you since my BA days and I have mad respect for every one’s career choice because we all occupy different spaces in this world.

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