If you remember, in one of my recent blog posts, I told you that one day I decided to change my plans and listen to an inner voice – the one telling me to follow my hidden talent that would take me away from engineering and propel me towards something that could make me genuinely happy: languages and, in particular, English.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I made that decision 30 years ago. Getting to where I am now has not been easy, and it has not been the only result of following my heart's desire at that time. Switching university degrees was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and lots of people told me things I didn't really want to hear. At university, I was studying alongside future doctors, economists and engineers. And I also had to put up with their jokes and comments, which were sometimes quite inappropriate. I had even heard people say that my degree was a Mickey Mouse course, and they were being given away! (I am sure I am not the only one who has heard that.) Clearly, to obtain an engineering degree you have to be -at a bare minimum- mathematically minded, but this does not mean that everyone else is stupid. We have to debunk the myth that science degrees are for intelligent people and arts degrees are for everyone else. In fact, nowadays, people talk about multiple intelligences, something that could open up another debate entirely. But that is not today's topic.
In an ideal world, choosing a profession that gives our lives meaning, beyond status or social position needs to be our starting point. I am certain that if we all chose to do what we do best and what makes us happy, lots of positive things would come about for everyone. I will illustrate my point with three very different examples:
- Imagine a doctor who only wants to be a doctor because of the prestige and status associated with their profession. Would you trust them with your health?
- I bet you would be horrified to know that your children, in their first and formative years when they are so receptive to learning, are in the hands of someone who decided to be a teacher purely on account of having long summer holidays.
- What future would we have with a politician who only shaped policy to better their own personal gain instead of acting on behalf of the people who elected them and pay their salary?
Going back to my own story, each time I was greeted with negative comments, my response was always the same, "I won't be just an English teacher. I will be the best English teacher!" I am not saying that I have achieved this, but I have spent years aspiring to be the best and battling to get there. I have realised that happiness is less about achieving the goal you set yourself and more about the process of getting there. I know that I haven't invented the wheel, but not one day goes by when I do not feel immensely fortunate to be able to do a job that I love. And it goes without saying that seeing those people who were once children at Kids&Us growing up into adults, and seeing that their English has grown as much as they have, is the icing on the cake. Because of this, they will have more freedom to achieve the goal they choose.