I have always been someone who is much better at collecting dreams, ambitions, and wishes than at taking any sort of real action towards making them happen for myself. Currently, I am a little at sea- swimming in ideas, but unable to take in enough air to take action quite yet. Last week, I ended a year-long contract at an international education company as a co-manager of a curriculum writing team- we wrote individual lesson plans, textbooks, exams, timetables, inventory lists, you name it for a chain of low-cost private schools that run in Lagos, Nigeria.
While I often found myself in conflict with some of the business practices that may or may not be necessary to run a massive for-profit education company (company-wide, we run thousands of schools, and serve tens of thousands of children who live in educationally under-served communities), occasionally clashed with some of the managements decisions, and frequently worked 50-60 hour weeks, I do not regret my time there.
I got to work on a small team with some truly excellent people: kind, intelligent, driven and passionate about helping children. I received experience with project and team management and publishing, I researched and wrote textbooks for Social Studies, Science, and French, wrote and designed curriculum for fun Friday co-currics like French and Drama, and I got to have a very direct involvement in improving educational outcomes and learning gains for children in Nigeria, as we expanded from 2 schools to 30 schools: employing hundreds of teachers and teaching 7,000 children. There are not many places that I could have worked less than a year out of university where I could have such a direct and positive impact on the world. For that, I am truly, truly grateful.
Unfortunately, there was very little room to grow professionally without further education or international or teaching experience, so now, after a year and seven months, and a two different positions, my time there has ended. I am once again looking at a road map, unsure of the destination or next route, caring deeply, thinking deeply, but all the same, left wondering what to do. I have been torn in two directions for the past 7 years: wanting to pursue music and wanting to pursue international development. I want to do good work and make good art. My personal struggle is that I find it immensely difficult to pursue one whole-heartedly without feeling like I have betrayed the other, and combining the two feels like a dilution of both. So I find myself again at a familiar fork in the road.
Something that brings me peace is knowing that in times when things often seem the most unsure and lost, the only way to emerge is through growth and transformation. You don’t go from being ore to a ready tool without going through fire and getting knocked about. ‘Quarter-life crisis’ and the millennial refusal to grow up and buy a house (and cornflakes, napkins, golf clubs…) all seem a banal, jaded take on the very real and difficult work of figuring out what dent you will try to make in the world, whether your span to do so is one year or sixty. So I want a record of that; I want to push myself to write and think constructively.
Instead of trying to rush into something else, I want to spend time reflecting, refining, and while perhaps not planning, creating more structure for myself instead of just merely knowing my own ideals and values. It is good and valuable to know oneself. But it is also essential to know how to be yourself and remain yourself in the world and its storms.
For a while, I’ve wanted to create and faithfully maintain a blog of personal writing and thoughts- to colllect these ruminations in a physical form instead of airy wisps of escaping thoughts and to hone my writing skills. It’s been a little while since I have written any prose that wasn’t a work email or designed for an 8-9 year old Nigerian child. Luckily for both purposes, I had learned to cut back on the long-windedness, but it returns fairly naturally!
Anyways, for starters, I will be posting a few reflections on thinking about goals, travel, and music. Probably also posting original creative content like music, writing/poems, and photos. Stay tuned- we will create some sort of meaning out of the mess one way or another!