Our guest speaker at the 2013 ChanSea Hall Dinner was Kenrese Young, motivational speaker and health and lifestyle coach. She spent her allotted time preaching to our young, impressionable minds about the importance of dreaming big and not letting anyone tell you “You can’t”.
Her most shining example of reaching for the stars despite the odds was her personal story of quitting her comfy job at a communications company (after years of making money) to become a motivational speaker. She extolled the virtues of doing what you love.
All of which rubbed me the wrong way.
I think it’s wholly impractical to be telling a roomful of university students to switch majors just so they can do what they love. This economic climate and this job market are too unstable to be telling anyone to dream big and ignore reality. Because she never once mentioned any kind of practical advice about getting a job after university, even though more than 75% of our graduates will remain unemployed after they graduate with a “sensible” degree. Even medical interns – a post that used to be guaranteed once you left university – are having a hard time finding jobs.
Her speech was full of catchy phrases like “Dream big!”, “Don’t let anyone bring you down!” and “Work hard!” but I think in the midst of all the hype, she failed to bring across just how hard you have to work. And that sometimes hard work alone will still not cut it. There is luck and knowing the right people and getting the right opportunity – which, statistically speaking, everyone will not get.
She didn’t tell them that the world is unfair.
Telling lies to the young is wrong
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong
Her own story isn’t an ideal example either. We don’t all come from the same background or get the same chances. She had built herself a stable, practical career out of university degrees that she probably didn’t love studying for in the first place. But they made her financially secure enough to be able to quit her job and jump into a profession that is iffy at best. Could she have done that – would she have wanted to do that as a fledgling university graduate with loans to pay off and rent overdue? I doubt it.
She was a complete one-eighty from our guest speaker last year who had told us straight up about the raw deal we’d be facing as university graduates in a global society where graduates are a dime a dozen. He told us to be trailblazers, yes, but when he told us how hard blazing the trail would be he didn’t pull any punches. He didn’t sugar-coat our future because the future shouldn’t be sugar-coated, or viewed through rose-coloured lenses. Times is hard and they’re only getting harder. How many of our young people are unemployed? Across the world? How many businesses have failed in the last few years?
It is not from lack of passion that these pursuits have withered. What our young people lack is direction, not drive. We are so eager to make our mark on the world but no one’s there to help us navigate the treacherous waters. And today’s world is a much harsher one than the world of generations past. Prices are going up, including the price of mistakes, and we are struggling to find our feet in an ever-shifting economy, an ever-changing society. The kind of advice we need is not going to be found in fortune cookie fold-outs, can’t be given in clichés or anecdotes about one-in-a-million chances.
Be careful with whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is like a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it, like fishing the past out of the garbage disposal and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
Mary Schmich/Baz Luhrmann
But it is too easy to talk about what we don’t need. We know the wrong way all too well. The hard part is figuring out what we do need, and which way is the right way, and we should be busy trying to work on that. So far all we’ve got is trial and error and we don’t know the answers to any of the questions.
If anyone does, please write.
Sunday evening was my company’s dance show. I’m sorry you missed it, but I did warn you.
The journey to staging the seventh installation of Bricolage was a special one. I had only just joined arabesK Dance Collective around March this year whereas most of the members had been there for a while. I jumped straight into learning choreography and enjoyed meeting the multitude of new friends. There is something to be said for finding the right fit with a dance company, like finding the right fit with jazz shoes: when it’s good, it’s great.
We spent the ensuing months getting to know choreography and each other, coping with our crazy/wonderful artistic director’s tendency to start and finish a dance in the same day, learning our strengths, and shoring up our weaknesses. It was a work-in-progress, and we grew together.
Time passed. Issues cropped up and were dealt with, or fretted over. We cried, we laughed, we learned to breathe. We made sacrifices and in between we found moments to shine, feeding off each others’ energy through the sweat and frustration. It is humbling and gratifying to be a part of this close-knit bunch of wildly different people, all here for various reasons, but who are all determined to show up and try.
Our once a week rehearsals weren’t ideal, but we played the hand we were given without losing. Time not spent rehearsing was spent bonding, or in deep discussion about some aspect of performance. It was always time well spent.
So of course our production, with all its flaws and foibles, was a crowning achievement. And as our artistic director beamed with bashful pride in the heat of the stage lights, I reflected that we had really struggled though challenges and broken out of the confines of our day-to-day existence to give this moment of our lives to this bricolage. Her bricolage. Our bricolage.
And I’m looking forward to doing it all again.
For all you patrons of the arts out there who happen to be in Kingston – or who will happen to be in Kingston in November – arabesK Dance Collective will be hosting their season on Sunday, November 17 at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts (UWI, Mona) at 6PM.
It is aptly titled Bricolage (from the French le bricolage) which means:
Bricolage (n): the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process
It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. Kyisha Patterson (artistic director) is a brilliantly inventive choreographer, and she constantly pushes her dancers beyond our boundaries. The result is a collection of choreographic works of unparalleled spirit and touching emotion.
I know November is the month of dance seasons, but all the other shows cost more. Really, you’d be saving a fortune just coming to see us dance. Because of course you were already planning to support the Arts. Weren’t you?
If you weren’t, come anyway.
Tomorrow and Friday I have the worst exams of fourth year (Pathology aka The Balls Buster – they used to use this exam to kick people out of medical school. Now we just do a bunch of resits. Not that I intend to resit this exam though given the fact that I’m writing this instead of studying who knows?).
But to take the stress off, I am celebrating my 100th follower. Not the actual follower himself, see, just the number 100. It’s so nice and round (but still pointy!) and triple digited. And I always said that if I ever got to 100, I’d make a nice celebratory post. So here it is.
This kitten is too excited for words. Or maybe having a petit mal. I have no real life experience with kittens.
Housewife (n): a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework.
What is the deal with people hating on housewives? Feminists especially seem to see the designation as a kind of personal insult. As if the business of running a household is a demeaning occupation that all women everywhere should try to rise above.
May I be the first to disagree?
I’ve had this argument with my classmates, mostly because everyone has the same stereotype about housewives. You know, the desperate type; the dependent ones; the gold-diggers. If that’s what you’re calling a housewife, then no wonder there’s so much disdain for them. But that’s not really what being a housewife is supposed to be. At least, that’s not the way I think about it.
To me housewives don’t just spend their husband’s money and do nothing all day. They’re the backbone of the home. They cook and clean and make sure things run smoothly. They stay home with the children. They greet their husbands at the door. They write and blog and have interesting hobbies like hand-making DIY crafts out of mason jars. For the most part, they’re happy and fulfilled.
I do realize that my idea of housewives is a little idealistic but I just don’t see them as depressed or useless or boring. I don’t see why a woman who’s a housewife is any less of a woman than a woman who’s a doctor. Or the other way around.
People find fulfilment in different ways. You might feel a soul-deep contentment when you’re elbow deep in resecting someone’s colon cancer; I might get the same feeling from knowing my family is happy and well-fed. The goal as a woman – as a human being – is to find what makes you happy and do that, regardless of stereotypes and expectations*. We shouldn’t fight to fit into some predetermined mould at the cost of our peace of mind, and we ought not to judge someone whose source of happiness is different from ours.
I realize this is difficult and, again, I’m probably being idealistic. This is a world of compromised values and hurt feelings. Some of us like to think we’re a little better others and judge them accordingly but that isn’t what we should be doing, and it isn’t making us any happier. We strive for ideals everyday; we try to achieve perfection in a million different things. Why can’t happiness be one of them?
And while you’re off learning to be happy, try not to judge people who are doing the same.
*Although if torturing puppies and small children makes you happy, I would strongly encourage you to live up to society’s expectations of not being a sociopath.
My mother’s ears aren’t pierced. Neither are my aunt’s, nor my grandmothers’. I don’t know if all the women in my family planned this, or if there’s a legacy behind it, or if it’s just a random coincidence, but it seems like a significant trend.
My ears are still not pierced either. Which wasn’t a dilemma for the last 21 years of my life, but now I’ve been thinking more and more about getting it done. Why am I so reluctant?
I’ve always associated pierced ears with mainstream society, and I. Do. Not. Like. Mainstream. The idea of being lost in a herd unsettle me. And yes, you may argue that I am lost in the herd of unpierced ears, but I may argue that it’s really not that big a herd. In my rotation of 70 students, there are maybe 10 people without pierced ears and most of them are for religious reasons. I am probably the only person I know who refuses to pierce my ears out of sheer stubbornness (and I am proud of it).
(Side note: I’ve always toyed with the idea of a helical piercing without piercing my lobes, because who does that? NO ONE).
I feel like my unpierced ears are a part of me, like my name, that I’ve only just started to appreciate. Do I want to give that up for the sake of accessorizing? Yes? No? HELP. They’re a part of my identity, but not a huge part. And it’s entirely possible to retain my individuality with pierced ears – hello, TARDIS earrings.
And since writing the opening line of this post, I’ve realized that I will stand out among the women in my family as the only one with pierced ears. Does it matter?
. . .
Dear mainstream, I may be joining you.
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