If my life was to be a TV series, up until some time ago, I would have been living solely from season to season. If it were a book, from chapter to chapter. Inevitably, as each new interval loomed, an eager/anxious curiosity on the main character’s fate would become more present.
Before joining the workforce, all my chapters revolved around schooling timeframes and its finite features, punctuated by (what now seem long) holiday periods – trimester, year, new school, high school, all the way to university.
Completing my degree was not (initially) a personal goal but rather something that I was supposed to do. I knew that I would eventually join the workforce and apparently having a degree in engineering would make the life of my future self “easier” and more comfortable.
And so, after 1999’s summer holiday, my 5 year, higher education season started. During that period, all my learnings and experiences turned civil engineering from curiosity into an interest that eventually developed into a passion – without a doubt, one of the best periods of my life. That said, the last year was quite intimidating.
When the end of the last semester was nigh, it meant that the schooling master season was up. It meant that the grown up world was knocking and I was definitely scared of the light at the end of that tunnel.
Once again, I did what I was supposed to… I got a job.
Coming out of Uni to start writing my first working chapter was quite the experience. It was daunting to make the switch from a mainly ‘open schedule’ to a cultural/collective/industry “mandatory” 10-12 hour working day. My time studying had been character formative, exciting and challenging. And it was easy – made easier by my colleagues turned friends, without whom I would have had to work thrice as hard to get that personal minimum requirement of 10/20.
I never ambitioned to be a manager, coordinator, director or any of the C-level Officers in an organisation. In a corporation sense I always aimed to what’s perceived as ‘low’ and with that metric as the baseline, I was extremely successful. I always strived to do the best job possible and without any false modesty, I was quite good at it.
Many months into my new status as a tax-payer, my next chapter still wasn’t discernable. Maybe it was the socially accepted and promoted ones: wife, work, car, house, kids, vacations and ever continuous upgrades (apart from the kids – “wink, wink” Cat).
And so, unaware of what to aim for, I carried on stretching a boring plot on autopilot, eager for Friday night to arrive and shunning away from Sunday afternoons.
After a few years into the job, I started being responsible for the work of others – people, who had just completed their schooling chapters, were now reporting to me. This, more than any other initial working experience, made me stop and take stock of my professional season. New chapters were being laid out before me, unannounced and unrequested.
Either performing minor or major roles, we are characters in the books being written around us, but for the very first conscious time, I was a producing episodes in other TV shows. It felt like a big responsibility, and it was. I felt I was being pushed up the professional ladder because I was, once again, supposed to – I won’t deny that it inflated my ego though.
By the end, before meeting Cat and moving to London, I was feeling that my TV Series was a remake of thousands of others before – each one is unique but at the same time, ours is just like so many others as far as episode naming goes. I felt like a cliché and I wanted more, I wanted different, I wanted inimitable, I wanted HBO, I wanted and I wanted… and so was my desire and pride.
Looking back, I DO NOT regret any of the chapters – without them I wouldn’t be here. I only wish I had been writing them more aware of the pen scribbling away, more deliberately and less going with the ‘supposed to’ flow. I now know that I was living in a bubble, with my eyes closed and reluctant to open them, not contributing to anyone else but myself and my comfort.
Anyway, I cannot do a remake of past episodes nor print a revised edition of those chapters. What I can do however, is to write the next ones more purposely and ever more mindful of all the books being printed around me.
I am very grateful for the experiences in my past chapters. It’s amazing to think that all the decisions and actions in my life led me here. Just like you, each choice you made in each of your past episodes – from what job to apply for, what book to read, who to ask on a date, when and where to go on a vacation, to what to have for lunch – led you to this moment. This one right here where you’re reading the word ‘word’, and now this one, and hopefully taking some value from it.
There’re no waves, so I’ll go for a swim and see where that takes today’s episode and the remainder of the series. What will you choose to do next?
TO BE CONTINUED…